Cultivating Bonding Between Siblings: 5 Ways to Get it Right
As mothers, we dream of cultivating deep and loving bonds between our children. It is never too soon to begin building healthy bonds between your older child and your baby—in fact, the work can (and should) begin long before baby arrives.
If you are expecting a new bundle of joy, or if you’ve recently delivered and want to start fostering a healthy relationship between siblings, we’ve created a list of 5 tips to help you help your children grow a beautiful relationship with one another.
Begin Before Birth
It’s never too soon to introduce older children to the new baby. As soon as you’re ready to share the news of the new arrival with big brother or sister, you can begin creating a bond.
Share ultrasound photos with your older child. Encourage them to cuddle your belly and talk to the baby. Reading books about the upcoming arrival can also be very helpful. We love the baby series by Rachel Fuller, including titles like Waiting for Baby and My New Baby, which help older siblings make sense of the very big feelings they experience as
they wait for their baby and their family expands.
Let Your Older Child Help
It may be tempting, when you arrive home with your new baby, to keep older siblings away to protect your infant. While it is well intentioned, such actions can quickly build resentment in older children.
Encourage your older child to take on the role of Mom’s helper. Let him or her feed the baby if you’re using bottles and hold the baby (under careful supervision). As the baby begins eating solid foods, have your older child pick out what the baby will eat for a few meals.
Make Use of a Baby Sling
A good sling is a mommy life saver—from infancy up through the toddler years! Having your baby snuggled next to your chest fills their natural need for human contact and reduces bouts of fussiness and interruptions, two things that can frustrate older siblings.
Wearing your baby also frees up both of your hands, allowing you to read a book or play a game with your older child while keeping your baby close to your heart. If you’re looking for a well-constructed, breathable, and comfortable sling, check out the many sling options available on our website.
It’s easy to blow off the words of a toddler or child—particularly if they are delivered in the form of a tantrum—but it is terribly important to listen to your older child’s complaints about the baby. What is he or she trying to tell you? Do they want more time with you? Do feel as though you only care about the baby? Even if their statements seem irrational, it is important to listen to what they are saying and help them make sense of their feelings.
Take time to celebrate all the ways your older child helps with the baby. Acknowledge the instances when they show patience (“I saw how kind you were with the baby when she took your puzzle piece”) or empathy (“I can see that hearing the baby cry makes you feel sad for him”) or healthy interactions with the baby (“You were so helpful getting me a fresh diaper for the baby”). Your words matter to your older child, and hearing you acknowledge their efforts will go a long way in building a healthy relationship between
Conflicts cannot be avoided—they’re just part of being a family. But, by intentionally taking steps to foster a strong bond at the beginning of a sibling relationship, you’ll be setting your children up for a lifetime of friendship with one another. What a tremendousgift…well done, mama!