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Babies Close in Age: Best Friends

Katlyn Joy |29, August 2011


Babies Close in Age: Best Friends

While there are pros to having kids close in age, such as built in playmates and closeness, and cons such as jealousy and time issues, once you're bringing home baby the advantages and disadvantages are unimportant. What you need to know is how to ease potential envy or resentment and build a positive relationship between siblings from day one.

During Pregnancy

  • Let the big sibling feel a part of the planning. Let the older child help decorate the nursery, fold new baby clothes and pack the bag for the hospital.
  • Show your child pictures of babies growing in the uterus to help connect the abstract idea of a new baby to the reality of what's happening in your blossoming tummy.
  • Don't let all the conversation and activity of the family revolve around baby.
  • Give your child plenty of special attention for himself or herself, not just as big brother or sister.
  • Let your child attend a new sibling class at the hospital where you'll be giving birth.

At the Hospital

  • Let your child visit with Mommy, Daddy and the new little one as a family. Don't involve anyone else for this time period.
  • Let your child have a moment with Mommy alone while Daddy cares for the baby.
  • Involve your child in holding or talking to the new baby.
  • Give your child a special gift as there will probably be little gifts for the baby accumulating.
  • Outfit your child with a kid friendly camera or disposable camera and let him or her take baby pictures for a special sibling photo album.

Bringing Baby Home

  • Give your child a chance to welcome baby to the nursery.
  • If your older child is moving out of the crib for the new baby, do this plenty of time before the baby's arrival.
  • If your children are sharing a room, make sure the older child has an area just his or her own.
  • Give the older one special one on one time with Mom and Dad throughout the week. It can be an outing for ice cream, or simply story time without feeding or diapering interruptions.
  • Don't let guests push the older child into the shadows. Make sure they know you don't want the big sibling left out.
  • Don't take away treasured items from big brother or sis to give to baby. It's too much to expect from a young one. Sharing is a touchy issue at any child's age, but really young children can't really understand it.

New Relationships

Never force a child to share, and be aware when hand-me-downs seem like backstabbing events to the older child. Yes, he might have been sick of that baby toy but that was before you gave it to his little sister. Now it's priceless and a favorite.

Expect some regression from the big sibling. Some potty accidents, thumb sucking or even experimenting with sucking on a pacifier or bottle are normal. Don't overreact and just give everyone time to settle into the new family constellation.

Similarly, don't be surprised if your older child voices some less than loving thoughts regarding the new baby. Telling the older child that it isn't nice, or plain denying, "You don't hate your baby brother!" are not particularly helpful ideas.

Rather acknowledge the emotions and explain possible reasons the child may feel that way. Tell your child you know sometimes people have frustration or bad feelings even about people they love. Let your child know it's OK to talk to you about those not so good feelings.

Sometimes when children are especially close in age, it means a premature end to the older child's babyhood. Don't let this happen. Don't fall into the trap of expecting the older child to act older than is reasonable. One of the best ways to build a close relationship between stair step siblings is to preserve the older child's baby and toddler-hood. Don't rush the oldest to be a big kid.

Like all of parenting, raising a baby and toddler at the same time takes incredible balance. You'll find it falls into place easier on some days than others. The best way to insure this is to find time for each child and never force children to behave emotionally in ways that they don't feel or understand.

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