Mommy, Put That Baby Down And HOLD ME!

big sister and newbornEvery kid in the world seems to know that when the new baby comes home, her new job is to do whatever it takes to GET MOMMY’S ATTENTION!! Especially when she’s feeding or changing the newborn. Ever notice that?

Baby number one (who suddenly looks like she’s 18) may have been playing happily across the room with her Little People Schoolbus but the minute she senses that you’re about to nurse or change a diaper, she’s in your face, talking too loud, kissing you, hugging you, trying to get in your lap or just flat out pleading with you to hold her.

Basically, big sisters and brothers are often pretty threatened by your intimacy with the new baby and sometimes it’s simply more than they can handle.

Desperate times call for desperate measures … and the bottom line is that they are desperate to know that you still love them best and that this little interloper can’t really hold a candle to them. Without question YOU have won the family popularity contest and they are not going to give you up without a fight. So when it comes to Mommy, sharing is not going to be something that comes easily.

But never fear! I’ve got a little pearl that worked like a charm for me after the birth of my second chid and then again after my third one was born. It’s totally easy and they’ll never know what hit them.

Here’s what you do: when the older child starts circling and getting ready to jump on you and “accidentally” smother the baby, you maintain eye contact with the infant and start talking quietly in that high, cootchy-coo voice reserved just for him. No I’m not crazy, there’s more.

The pearl part comes in when your older one notices that you’re talking to the baby about HER. And saying the most amazing things, like, “Oh you are soooo lucky to have Mia for your big sister. She is the best big sister in the world and she’s going to teach you everything because she is so smart and so talented and knows how to do it all! She’s going to teach you how to talk and walk and and even ride your bike when you get big. How did you get so lucky?”

Then you can tell the baby a story about Mia, like “And do you know what she did today? She was so clever! She….”

Most kids cannot resist stopping everything to get a load of all these compliments and will sit, mesmerized and flattered, at full and quiet attention for as long as it takes. Next time nursing or diapering comes along you may find them sitting quietly next to you, waiting to hear more. Make sure you give it to them. They need the extra attention after being dethroned and love to hear how much you like them.

The baby hasn’t got the slightest idea of what you’re talking about and couldn’t care less. But he loves all the focused, loving eye contact and attention and the cootchy-coo voice. And you can swoon and stare at that beautiful little bundle and babytalk to your heart’s content without feeling guilty about making the older one jealous.

What’s not to like about this plan? Everybody wins! Go ahead and give it a whirl.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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