Caring for Family

Make Time for Every Child

Make Time for Every Child

Your new baby may be the apple of your eye — but that doesn't mean he's necessarily the only apple under your tree. If your little one has siblings, you're not only learning how to take care of his needs, but also learning to balance the needs of multiple children — not an easy task!

One of parents' key concerns when adding a new baby into a household with older siblings is making time for each child. The idea of shortchanging any of your children of your attention or focus is simply painful! Efforts to avoid it not only can help you feel like a better mom, but also offset any sibling rivalry — which can include jealousy, regression or acting out — that may have developed after the new baby's arrival.

With this in mind, here are some ways to make time for each of your children:

  • Set aside small amounts of uninterrupted time — even 10 minutes — for your older child while the baby naps each day. Let the child choose what to do, whether read a book, talk or play together on the floor or in the yard.
  • Give your older child special jobs they can do with you that help the family or the baby's care. These tasks can include sorting laundry, taking out trash, dressing or diapering the baby, pushing the stroller or cleaning up toys or clutter. Praise your child for contributing in a "big kid" way.
  • When you're alone with an older child, ask what they like and dislike about having a new baby in the house. Listen carefully and don't dismiss any serious concerns — this is your chance to hear what's really on their mind! Similarly, affirm the positive things they observe about life in a newly larger family.
  • Take each child on simple errands, such as picking up the dry cleaning or a buying a gallon of milk. If you have time, throw in a "bonus" stop at the ice cream shop or library for a treat.
  • Spend a few bedside moments with each child every evening asking the best and worst things about their day. If they're pre-verbal, cuddles are always welcomed.
  • Walk your pet around the neighborhood with your child while other children are being cared for by another adult. Point out the flowers, the neighbor's new house color and the kinds of cars and trucks whizzing by.
  • Plan a "date" with each child just as you would with your spouse. Mark your calendar, hire a sitter if necessary and come up with ideas for special day-long activities that your child will anticipate with glee. These activities might include lunch at a favorite restaurant, manicures at a nail salon or a trip to a nearby amusement park.
  • Make time with just baby while older kids are at school, play dates or with other relatives or friends. Activities can be simple and include a lot of eye contact, singing or looking at board books.