Parents adopting a baby who already have an older child need to make sure they do everything they can to help their child adjust to the new baby. It is completely natural for your older child to be jealous and/or act out when a new sibling arrives. Here are some tips on helping your older child adjust to a new baby.
Older Child Age: Under 24 Months
Many psychologists say this is the hardest time for your older child to accept a new baby sibling at home. Children at this age require full and constant attention, and it can be hard for them when a new baby arrives since they may feel like they’re losing your attention. Toddlers often don’t show jealousy before a new child’s arrival, but rather when your younger child becomes mobile and starts to grab your older child’s things. It is best to tell your child before a new baby arrives and get them excited about the prospect, even if they don’t quite understand what you are saying. When your new baby arrives, don’t fall into the trap of negotiating with your toddler. If he or she wants something while you’re taking care of your newborn, just say that you’re sad you can’t do it immediately. Try asking him or her to help you with the baby and promise you’re going to play when you finish.
Older Child Age: 2–3 years
Most children at this age feel very conflicted and jealous about a new baby. Sometimes they will resort to acting like they are babies as well. The best solution for this is to play with your older child like he or she is a baby again. Try this game together and while you do it, explain to your child why it is important to take care of a newborn baby. At this age, a good idea to prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby before he or she arrives is to transition him or her to a toddler bed. This has the added bonus of freeing up the crib for when the baby arrives!
Older Child Age: 4–6 years
Kids at this age are often more understanding of what’s going on with a new baby in the home, but they can still get jealous. You can invite your older child to a trip to the grocery store or run a special errand of some kind so you can have some alone time together separate from the new baby. Show your child you care about his or her emotions by acknowledging them and talk about them with an understanding tone.
Older Child Age: 7–8 years
It takes more effort to get children of this age to open up, but you can find some perfect moments to talk about your child’s feelings, like after a snuggle before bedtime. Ask your child what changed with the arrival of a new baby. The answer might help you understand the situation better and get ideas for what you can do to help ease their anxiety. Also, do your best to engage your older child in taking care of the baby, like asking him or her to read a story or sing a song to the new baby.