Combating jealousy between siblings

Finally, you and your new baby are on your way home. Your older child is expecting you and everyone is excited. Fast-forward 2 weeks and now things have changed.

Your older child is crying all the time, cranky and hostile toward the baby. She was so excited while waiting for baby, why the change? Welcome to sibling rivalry—even at a very young age.

Taming Sibling Rivalry

Look at this from your older child’s perspective: Before baby, she had all of your attention. You were waiting for the new baby together; you were making plans together. You were a team. Now you’re spending your time holding and feeding the baby, and to her, you’re so busy that she feels left out.

Even if you are doing things to include your older child, from their perspective they are now an outsider in this new relationship. Follow these tips to pull them back in and let them see how important they are to you:

Think about positioning: When your older child comes to visit you at the hospital, are you waiting for her or holding the baby? If you are holding the baby, your hands are full and you can’t hug her. This sends a negative visual message to your child. The same goes for when you arrive home. Plan to have your hands free so you can welcome her with open arms!

Cut jealousy off before it begins: Be mindful of jealousy and deal with it proactively. Include your older child in activities with and around baby. Give her simple jobs, like getting a diaper or choosing an outfit. Make choices simple: ‘Should Ariel wear the yellow or the pink shirt?’ Follow what your older child advises; children pick up more than we give them credit for.

Acknowledge their feelings: When they say, “Mommy, I wish the baby would go away now!” Respond positively, “Yes, the new baby is a lot of work! She’s part of our family and she needs us to take care of her. We both have a big job to do; I really need your help now!”

Make special time with your older child: Do things you love together: Go to the park, read books, bake cookies—whatever you have always loved to do together. Tell her how important she is for the baby. She is one of baby’s first teachers and first friends. Show her how by example she can help teach baby to smile and to laugh.

To learn more about jealousy when baby comes home, read The Toddler Rules and How to deal with a New baby


Alicia Berberich BA, CIC, is the creator of the Unleash Your Child’s True Potential workshops.

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