A blog by Dr Lin Day

New Baby and Sibling Rivalry

It is perfectly natural for an older child to be jealous of a new baby brother or sister. He or she has always been the centre of attraction.

The following can make a huge difference to your child’s behavior and emotions when your new baby arrives.

  • Being involved in the pregnancy.
  • Helping to pack your maternity bag.
  • Attending antenatal appointments.
  • Visiting the maternity unit.
  • Choosing baby clothes, nappies and equipment.
  • Selecting gifts and toys for the new baby.
  • Deciding how the nursery will be decorated.
  • Visiting friends and family who have new babies.
  • Looking at pictures of babies in magazines and books.
  • Sharing photographs of your child as a baby.
  • Discussing potential baby names.
  • Bathing, changing and cuddling a newborn doll.

Despite all the planning and preparation, your child may react by ignoring the baby or by demanding more attention. Rest assured that this is perfectly normal behaviour. After all, bringing home a new baby is a major life-changing event.

Any change, especially one that involves a different routine, will be very disorienting to your child. Where possible, keep set times for meals, play, reading, bathing and bedtime. A familiar routine will give your child the security that he or she still needs.

Even if your child appears to love the new baby, he or she needs to learn how to touch, where to kiss, how to play, and when to stop. If interactions go beyond the expected norm, getting cross will only make your child feel left out and unwanted.

The following can make your child feel loved and ensure continued cooperation:

  • Let Daddy hold the baby so that you can cuddle your child.
  • Spend quality time together after nursery or school.
  • Spend one-to-one time together when your baby is asleep.
  • Provide plenty of cuddles and expressions of love.
  • Snuggle up with your child and new baby and watch a DVD together.
  • Give positive praise when something has been done well.
  • Take an interest in nursery or school activities.
  • Point out all the things that your child can do that the new baby can’t.
  • Share a favourite story together at bedtime.
  • Have toys on hand so that you can feed your new baby without feeling that your child is being neglected.
  • Involve your child in changing and entertaining the baby.
  • Ask your child to help push the pram or rock the crib.
  • Take your child to the park or somewhere special on his or her own each week.
  • Ask family or friends to take your child out for a fun activity.

If your child becomes aggressive or acts up, encourage him or her to express feelings when safely tucked up in bed. Don’t be surprised if your child reverts to baby talk; it is part of the adjustment process.

Adjustment to a new baby will depend on pre-planning and preparation, your child’s personality, age and stage of development, and his or her relationship with you. Ultimately, your child needs to know that he or she is still loved and wanted. Cuddles are important at any major life-changing event, and also throughout life. They can make a real difference to how your child feels and behaves and to relationships in the future.


Visit: www.babyfoundations.com to discover more about you and your growing baby.

New Baby and Sibling Rivalry – By Dr. Lin Day (www.babysensory.com)