Sibling Love

“Do you want a baby?”

My 20-month-old son enthusiastically nods his head up and down as he lovingly clutches our friends’ newborn in his arms. kara, G, and baby

“Well, Mama has a baby in her belly,” I tell him. He looks at my stomach and laughs. I can tell the connection is lost on him, but at his young age I’m not surprised. Even if he did understand that I’ll be giving birth to his brother or sister in just two short months, I highly doubt he’d be able to grasp the huge changes coming his way.

Still, my heart sighs as he smothers the baby’s wrinkly head with kisses. It’s reassuring to see my son so loving toward a little baby, reassuring to know that yes, he will be a great big brother. Yet, I know it won’t be this easy; it won’t be kisses and cuddles all the time. There will be clawing and hitting and jealous outbursts and I don’t even want to think about what else. There will definitely be struggles ahead as he adjusts to a new baby in the family, but through a few simple preparatory steps now, my husband and I hope we can smoothen our son’s transition come November.

  1. We make it a big deal whenever we’re around little babies. We’re quite fortunate to be surrounded by many families with babies under a year, so this is quite easy. We encourage our son to hold the babies (with our help), give kisses and use gentle touches. Hopefully he’ll not only be used to babies come November, but he’ll also have an idea of proper behavior around a newborn as well.
  2. We talk to him about his baby brother or sister. Now, he probably has no clue what we’re talking about, but hopefully once the baby is born the terminology of his “brother” or “sister” will make more sense since he’s familiar with those terms.
  3. We plan to move him out of the nursery a few weeks before the baby is born. This is to avoid making him feel “replaced” by his sibling and to have him feel settled in his new environment before the baby comes.

What about you? Have you done this before? What works and what doesn’t?

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4 Comments

  • Good advice! I have 3 boys; my oldest was 18 months old when his first brother was born, and then my second son was 21 months old when we welcomed our third. Even with very young older siblings, having a job and “helping” with baby (even if it’s throwing away a wet diaper or fetching a burp cloth) lets them feel more involved with their new sibling. Jealousy happens, but you will become an expert at balancing two kids on your lap, reading a book to your toddler while nursing the baby, and cooking dinner with one hand. I also found wraps or baby slings very useful when the baby needed to be held, but my older ones also required my attention. Good luck!!

  • I need this advice! I’m due in March, and my almost two year old son is already jealous when I hold newborns. Thanks, Kara!

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