How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby

Naiya has officially fallen in love with her baby sister, Sadie. The only problem? Sometimes, she loves her TOO much. Naiya has a tendency of leaning into Sadie to give her big hugs and kisses but within seconds, she ends up getting too aggressive.  I end up having to watch Sadie like a hawk because even though she doesn’t know her own strength, I know Naiya could accidentally hurt Sadie. Naiya loves going in for her face and head (cue the new mama heart palpitations!). Figuring out how to get through to Naiya in a constructive way has been a big learning curve for us but we’re getting closer! For other mamas and mamas-to-be in the same boat, I’m rounding up a few ways we’ve been combatting sibling rivalry that have worked for us so far.How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby How to combat sibling rivalry with a new babyHow to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby

1) Bring Gifts To The Hospital “From” Baby

Throughout my pregnancy, I dreamed of Naiya meeting Sadie for the first time.  But since I knew Naiya would only be two years old at the time, I wondered how she would react. Would she understand what was happening or would she feel jealous? Prepping her for the occasion wasn’t always the easiest but we stayed positive (more about that here).

To help out with the transition, Phil and I decided to come to the hospital pre-armed with gifts for Naiya. We told her these gifts were “from Sadie” and she seemed really excited. The gifts included play dough set and a big pack of Naiya’s favorite fruit snacks that she could open right after she met her (video here).

In the end, we really do feel like these gifts helped us out big time! Naiya went right over to Sadie to thank her and she gave her the biggest hug. #Missionaccomplished.

How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby

2) Create One-On-One Dates

Once we brought Sadie home from the hospital, Naiya started to show signs of jealousy almost immediately.  It broke my heart to see my first baby feeling like someone else took her place. I had to think fast about what would make Naiya happy and realized that we needed one-on-one time.

Ever since, Naiya and I have taken “Mommy Naiya” dates at least once a week. I prep for this by nursing Sadie and having Phil watch her for a bit. Timing is of the essence! From there, I let Naiya choose where she wants to go–to the park, out to ice cream, etc. Since Naiya is head over heels obsessed with ice cream. you can often find us on ice cream dates above anything else (photos from exhibit A all over this post!).

Our dates have proved to be extremely helpful. Naiya gets the one-on-one attention she so wants and deserves. Whenever we come home, Naiya kisses Sadie and isn’t as aggressive with her (at least right away)! I find that our dates buy us time where Naiya’s  not acting out as much which is helpful for the whole family.

How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby

3) Baby Doll

When we got first got home from the hospital, another gift we had Naiya open was a baby doll of her own. My thought was that if Naiya was able to have her own “baby” to take care of, she’d be able to participate in all of the things I’d be doing with Sadie. She’d be able to put her baby in her stroller for walks, help to give her baby a bath, feed her, etc.

Naiya loves to feel involved and helpful and this keeps her excited. In addition to her doll, I’ve even noticed her swaddling some of her favorite stuffed animals before bedtime. It’s so cute!

How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby

4) Big Sister & Big Brother Books

In preparation for Sadie coming into our family, we read books about big sisters to Naiya every night. I wasn’t sure if these were really sinking in but Naiya seemed to enjoy them and it was worth the try! Eventually, she asked for us to read them on special request!

Some our favorites included:  this one here, here and here. We fell especially in love with the beautiful book called “Hello In There” by Christine Roussey which is all about a big sister waiting for the arrival of her sister as she grows in her mommy’s tummy.  It’s broken down into 9 months and kids can open up a little circle in the mommy’s belly to see the baby grow on every page. It’s beautifully illustrated and so cute! Such a great gift idea!

How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby
How Did You Prepare For A New Baby?

Mamas: How did you prepare your older child or children for a new baby? How is or was the transition for you? Do you have any tips besides the ones listed above? Since we’re still in it, I’d love to hear! Please leave a comment below! As always, thanks so much for stopping by!

XO, Arielle

How to combat sibling rivalry with a new baby    Photography: Azusa Takano