We recently brought home baby, and everyone is thrilled that he’s finally here- including my toddler son, much to my relief. We braced for jealousy, regression, and anger. We read parenting books and heard horror stories. But in the end, were lucky to find that our older son is super excited to have another small one in the house.
Our primary worry was jealousy: that our older boy would feel replaced or outshined by his new brother. We tried to head this problem off at the start by choosing a small but important gift for him - his first watch, so he could help us tell when it’s time to feed the baby. We wrapped it and gave it to him in the hospital, as he first met his new little brother. Since then, we’ve tried to involve him in marking important times for the new baby. When taking monthly progress photos of the small one, we'll include a few snaps of the two brothers. When friends ask about the baby, we’re sure to mention (within earshot) what a big help his big brother has been.
An unexpected problem is some over-zealous helpfulness, which has resulted in waking the sleeping baby, or handling him a bit too roughly. We’ve tried to focus that enthusiasm, rather than discourage it. We give big brother very specific baby-helping responsibilities such as the time-keeping mentioned above, but mostly involving fetching things we need to care for the smaller one. We also gave him a doll (much more resilient than the real thing) to feed, diaper and rock to sleep as much as he pleases.
We’re all adjusting to this new person in our little family, and as with any adjustment there are some rough patches. But, there are bright, happy moments- like finding the boys holding hands, or watching my older son sneak a kiss on his little brother’s cheek. In those brief times, it seems my hopes of happiness and harmony aren’t too far off.
About Liz Moorhead
Liz Moorhead is a high school teacher turned work-from-home mom. An illustrator and writer, she blogs for a top wedding site and shares her own personal experiences on her blog Happy Sighs in between walks to the park with her toddler son - all just outside of Philadelphia.