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The Postpartum Experience: Siblings

If this is not your first baby, you still have a new experience to contend with: introducing the new baby to your first baby. The experience of siblings, and parents, will differ depending on the age of your older child(ren), but there are things to keep in mind regardless of age.


Even the most mature of children will struggle with the short-term loss of access to your time and attention. Many children will act out in order to gain your attention. Ensuring that you set aside time to have one on one with your older child may help to alleviate some of these behaviours. This time can be reading books, doing crafts, going to the park, or other favourite activities.


Be aware of the language you use around regarding the baby. It can be hard to not say “I am feeding the baby now, I can’t.” However, this can cause older children to blame the baby for your sudden busyness. Try using phrases that leave the baby out, “I’m sorry, I am busy right now.”


Feeding an infant can take a long time, try setting up “busy baskets” for siblings. These can be small toys (the dollar store is great for this), books, snacks, and drinks. Nothing is more predictable than an hungry toddler just as you sit down to feed the baby.


Some older children are fascinated by their new sibling. They want to help. Let them! Give them jobs such as bringing you diapers, putting bottles in the fridge, or singing songs. They can even hold the new baby with supervision.


Other children will completely ignore the new sibling. And that is okay too. As the baby gets older, your other child will be more interested.


Just as the postpartum period can be hard on new parents, it can also be hard on older children. Changes to their routine, a crying baby, busy parents, and distracted grandparents can upset any child. Things will go back to normal as long as you remember to have patience.

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