Babies are cute, there's no question about that. They are cute, cuddly and smell good - most of the time. They are also notorious for being poor sleepers, loud and disruptive. No one could tell you this more than a brand new Big Brother or Big Sister. Often, they can't quite understand what has happened; they've been the focus of all of the attention for quite a while, and to have to share the spotlight with a tiny baby who doesn't even DO anything - well, you can almost understand why an older child might feel slighted, couldn't you?
Child psychologists often recommend making a fuss over the newly inaugurated older sibling. Playing up the strengths of the older child, focusing on their fun and downplaying the baby are actions that many of us have done - but are the best ways to make sure the new big brother or sister doesn't feel left out when new baby arrives?
In our house, each older sibling was the recepient of a new toy, game or article of clothing that had been coveted - it's just amazing that the new baby knew exactly what to bring the siblings! A new Lego, a book or a doll can go a long way towards softening the blow.
Try to put the older child in charge of something - maybe he could be the person who brings you a cup of water every time you sit down to nurse the baby, or she could fetch a new diaper for you. Everyone loves to feel important and necessary.
Play up the strengths of your older child. Can she ride a bike? The new baby cannot. Did he recently learn to read? It'll be years before the baby can. Tell your older child that he was sent first, in order to teach the baby how to do things; and remind him that baby will look up to him for the rest of his life.
We always made a special effort to have "Big Brother/Big Sister" and "Little Brother/Little Sister" t shirts on hand, and we allowed the older child to pass out candy that proclaimed his newly minted status.
Encourage visiting family to make a fuss over the older sibling. Have Grandpa take him out for ice cream while Granny gets to know the new baby. Then when they return, maybe Granny can read or play a board game with big Brother. Everyone loves undivided attention, and a little will go a long way to helping to smooth out hurt feelings.
What are some ways that you have helped older siblings be comfortable with a new arrival in the house?