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One night about 6 months after my second daughter was born, we were all sitting at the dinner table and the baby started tilting her head to the side and smiling.  It was so cute, and the grownups were all just smitten.  We cooed and fawned over her for several minutes, and then I looked at my 5 year old.  She tilted her head to the side, made the exact same smile, and it just about broke my heart.  My big girl needed some of that love and attention, too.  The thing is, it’s really hard to compete with a baby.  They are so darn cute, it’s just not a fair fight.

So what can parents do to help our older kids feel just as loved and not so jealous of the new baby?  Counter-intuitively, the first thing we need to do is to give them permission to feel upset or jealous.  Those feelings are normal and completely understandable.  We also need to acknowledge the truth about how many negative side effects a baby creates for an older sibling.  Yes, both things are true: babies=positive and negative changes!  We need to say things like:

The other thing we need to do is to create experiences that balance out the negatives.  You can:

Validate and empathize with those upset feelings, and try to create plenty of good feelings—with and without the new baby—it will help!