Since Zuri arrived, I’ve been trying out different strategies to build the bond between my oldest children and the baby. My oldest (bonus/step) son, Yasir is 16 and now my 3 year old son, Samir is the middle. Beware of the middle child. At least that’s what they say, right? However, I don’t take any stock in that since I’m a middle child. Heh.
When she was first born, and all
the help my family left, I had a tough time transitioning with Samir, and the baby.
Post partum hormones can create a whole new outlook on things, for better or for worse. Managing the whole with an adjusting toddler, and a new baby was frustrating at times. Even though my husband was there, Samir still wanted to be around me, Mommy, all the time. ESPECIALLY now, with the new baby because he wasn’t trying to miss a thing.
So, how do you build the bond between older children and a tiny human being that can’t even laugh, let alone say a word?
Here are a few strategies that have been successful for our family from 0 to 5 months of Zuri’s life.
Light tickling, holding, and kisses. This is the obvious and most important strategy to building the bond. I will tell you that it can be tough to “hand over” your brand new baby to an older child (and I didn’t for the first month), but once you have seen them interact and feel comfortable, you can gradually allow the older child to touch. Because as you are building a bond with your new addition, it is extremely important for the children to build a bond as well.
Use the baby as a puppet. I mean, they’re small enough. I know this sounds weird, but I mean this in the sweetest gentlest way of course. Talk to the older child like you’re the baby.
Plus you need to make up for the all the
funny stuff the baby will do on accident like kicking the older one in the arm. This works for toddlers and even teenagers!
Putting the baby in your lap or on the bed (when older) while you read them both a bedtime story is a great way to introduce the baby into an already existing routine with the older child.
When I was struggling to find a routine with our new addition, my mom (mother of 4 girls) told me:
It’s never too early to start the bedtime routine.
Seeing both my kids in the bed together while I read to them is still the sweetest thing.
I know this is a controversial topic in America, but I truly attest to co-sleeping, and will forever more.
In the first weeks of life especially, a baby needs to be close to her mommy. Also in the first weeks, the mommy is exhausted, so what better way to better prepare for your next day taking care of your baby than by getting more sleep the night before?
You get more sleep because the baby is nursing/bottle feeding multiple times a night and she is right there next to you while you sleep. This means you don’t have to get up to get her every time she cries because she’s hungry.
[Tweet “Co-Sleeping allows for more sleep for Mommy and baby”]
It also strengthens the mommy/baby bond and trust that both need so desperately, especially in the first few weeks of baby’s life.
So, you may now be able to see how co-sleeping with the older sibling can be beneficial. Now, I don’t mean letting the older child sleep in the bed in the first weeks after birth because the baby is just too delicate at that point.
And anyone who has seen a 3 year old sleep knows they are just the wildest! Nor do I mean allowing the older sibling to sleep in the bed all night, although it did happen sometimes. Exhaustion is real.
Seeing is believing
Record the kids together then show them the video. The older ones get a kick out of watching their own reactions to the baby.
Alone time with each child separately is crucial. I knew this was important, but it didn’t register for me until I was finally ready to get out of the house after giving birth (about 4 weeks) and I left a sleeping Zuri with my husband and wanted to also get Samir out of the house.
All we did was pick up a few items at the grocery store, but that bit of time that we shared, just the two of us, was golden. He needed that one on one attention. And after that, I noticed he had a bit less attention seeking behavior and more accepting of his new sister.
You know…less “I hate my baby sister” and more “Can I hold her?”
Every day, with my actions and words, I instill the message to Samir that he is Zuri’s brother and that he should always love and protect her. And when Zuri’s older, I will do the same.
PIN IT, PIN IT REAL GOOD
Have I missed any? What do you do or say to help your kids become closer?
*Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I’m just sharing strategies I use in my home. Please consult with your doctor for more information as it relates to this topic.