It’s Friday night and you are at the dinner table with your 3 week old baby boy and 5 year old daughter. After taking a sip of water, your daughter looks at you and says, “Mommy, I need a diaper.” Because your daughter has been potty trained for 2 years now, these are words that you never thought you would hear again from her. Before you scream, take a deep breath and RELAX. She is simply adjusting to the new little one – this is normal. Since the new baby is taking up a lot of your time, your 5 year-old is going to act out (or act younger) to get your attention, especially if you are feeding or spending time with the new baby. The best thing to do is give your 5 year-old special “big sister” or “big brother” roles. The following are five roles you can assign to a sibling when you have a new baby:
5 Roles To Assign a Sibling When There is a New Baby:
- Baby Watch – Put your older child on “baby watch”. While you are still in the room, ask him or her to make observations about what the baby is doing and let you know. Ask your older child what he/she and the baby have that is the same and what is different.
- Night time reader- Let your older child tell the baby a story. Engage him/her in making a picture book with you that includes all the fun things that you have done together, so the new baby can learn about activities you do in your family. After you have finished creating this book, tell your older child that he/she is on “night time reader” duty. Explain the importance of reading this story to the baby and how important it is that the baby gets to learn who everyone is. Stress how great he/she is with learning who everyone is and how you want him/her to teach the baby BECAUSE HE/SHE IS THE BEST TEACHER!!!
- Special jobs helper- When you are giving your baby a bath, ask your older child to help. He/she can get the soap and help wash the baby’s legs. If your baby needs a new diaper, you can ask your older child to go get it. You can ask him/her to help rub your baby’s back to calm her down when she is crying. Remember to praise your older child when he/she is able to soothe the baby!
- Advice helper- When you are dressing the baby, ask your older child what he/she thinks the baby wants to wear. If the baby is crying, ask your older child if he/she thinks the baby is tired, hungry, etc. You may already know the answer to this question; however, asking your older child for his/her advice makes him/her feel very important.
- Creative helper- Ask your older child to think of a creative nickname for the baby to help establish a special bond between them. Helping create that bond and relationship is one of the toughest tasks. Creating a close bond at an early stage will ensure that the bond will last a lifetime.