Families often worry that when a new baby comes into their family, their toddler or preschooler will be less than welcoming. Siblings can often exhibit a great deal of jealousy when a little bundle of joy takes over the spotlight that they previously enjoyed.
But what about the child who shows no interest in the new baby and basically ignores them? It happens more often than you think. It’s normal to envision your little one with a heart bursting full of love and affection for the baby but the reality is that many siblings don’t find the baby terribly interesting for the first few months at least. Toddlers and preschoolers are generally pretty active and babies just don’t have much to offer as playmates.
There are some things you CAN try to spark some connection between siblings. It’s sometimes helpful to give the older child a baby-related job. Depending on the age of the older child, they can be asked to count how many diapers you have stocked in the diaper bag for an outing, fold the baby’s washcloths when you do laundry, or pick out the outfit the baby will wear from a few you have pre-selected.
Some parents also find it works well to compliment the older child, such as “The baby LOVES you! Look how you can make them smile/laugh. “Children often take pride in being the chosen person the baby responds to.
It goes without saying that it’s important to find one on one time for the older child to remind them how important they still are. Children are less likely to resent a baby brother or sister if they still feel they are a key part of their family. It can be useful to show the older child baby pictures of themselves and talk about all of the things they can now do that the baby can’t yet.
Lastly, and most importantly, don’t push it. Be understanding that it’s a big adjustment and it may take time. All siblings have their ups and downs but chances are, you’ll see very strong bonds build over the years.