By Nicole Pelletiere
New baby jealousy isn’t uncommon in older siblings, but that doesn’t mean you’ll feel okay when your toddler starts looking at your newborn with green eyes. Happily, there are ways to help your older child feel better about her little brother or sister.
New baby jealousy can take a few different forms. Toddlers will sometimes say things about being tired of the baby or wanting you to send him back. Other times, they might get too close to the baby or hug him too hard, says Leon Hoffman, M.D., Director of The Pacella Parent Child Center at New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute.
To keep envy at bay, it’s important that your toddler doesn’t feel replaced by the new baby or left out of the picture. Here’s how to make your older child feels just as loved as the new baby—and nip new baby jealousy in the bud.
Explain the new baby’s needs
Up until the baby got here, your toddler was the center of your world. Now, he has to share your attention with someone else, which is (understandably!) frustrating. Let him know you love him and the baby exactly the same, but that babies need their mommies when they’re so tiny (just like he did when he was smaller!). Make him feel extra special by pulling out his own baby pictures and pointing out the similarities between him and the new baby.
Sometimes older kids can be a little rough with babies, simply because they don’t realize how fragile newborns can be. Help your toddler understand that his sibling is too little to play right now, but that he can let baby hold his finger, introduce him to soft toys, and count his toes. You can practice with your toddler on a doll first, and repeat thewords while you do so, “Gently, nicely, that’s how we can touch him.”
Make him feel important
It’s essential to let your toddler know how important being the big kid is. Have him help with the baby when he asks to or let him help hold the bottle during a feeding, and always tell him how lucky his baby sibling is to have such a great big brother. When he needs it, baby your older child by snuggling together on the couch or letting him sit on your lap.
Plan one-on-one time
Your tot most likely misses that special time he used to have with you before the new baby came into the picture, so try and split time among the children. Plan time to spend just with your older guy, like snuggling and reading together while daddy feeds the little one.
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