How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New Baby

Anxious about how your eldest might take to a new sibling? Learn tips on how to help your child adjust to a new baby and build a strong bond.

How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New BabyI underestimated the effect that bringing two newborns would have on my three-year-old.

Sure, the first day was fine—the twins seemed like a novelty, and we had fun hanging out with visitors.

But then he realized that the babies weren’t going anywhere and that parents had less time for him. His life was changing, from having to be quiet to learning how to do tasks on his own.

The result? He started acting up.

I kept telling myself his behavior was temporary and normal, but my waning patience coupled with sleep deprivation didn’t help. Where had the little boy who would kiss my pregnant belly gone? The boy who looked forward to being a big brother?

I often heard that regression and acting up were normal for older siblings during this transition. Many told me he’d accept these new changes in his life and love and enjoy his brothers. And so, my husband and I did our best to do the things that helped him adjust to a new baby:

1. Show empathy

Your older child might test your patience, especially with such a big change in his life.

It can start as early as the last few months of your pregnancy when you’re extra tired and changes in the home are more apparent. And it can peak during the early weeks with the baby. I lost my patience more during those short few months than I ever did all three years prior.

How can you manage caring for the baby and meeting his needs? Show empathy.

Yes, it can be hard to do, especially when he disobeys, regresses, or says outright hurtful words. It’s easier to react and tell him to stay in his room.

But as challenging as adjusting to life with a baby is for you, it’s even harder for him. He doesn’t know how to manage his emotions as well as you and I do, and the defiance and regression stem from his own vulnerability and confusion.

So, when he misbehaves or shows aggression, don’t think of it as another hassle to solve or a personal attack on you. Instead, remind yourself that he needs you to help him manage his emotions. Just as your newborn needs you to hold him when he cries, so too does your older child when he’s upset.

It’s tempting to want to stop his outburst as fast as possible, but by showing empathy, you can curb the behavior in the long-term. And most importantly, you’re letting him know you’re still his mama, regardless of the baby.

Free resource: Grab The Power of Empathy and learn how to prevent power struggles and better connect with him, all by understanding his perspective. Get it below—at no cost to you. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:

“These emails are so helpful for us. We are learning a lot. Thank you!” -Cristina P.

The Power of Empathy

2. Pick your battles

Most children’s antics are impulsive. No matter how annoying your child’s latest skirmish may be, know that he isn’t always doing so on purpose. He’s responding to the changes in his environment in ways he can.

Don’t expect him to articulate his frustration, jealousy, and hurt feelings. Instead, expect outbursts, whining, and plenty of attention-getting behavior.

That said, you may want to loosen up a bit on the rules around the house and pick your battles. Stand your ground and provide boundaries, but pick those limits so that only the most important rules are enforced. It isn’t pleasant hearing “no” or “be quiet” all the time.

A warning though: this takes a lot of patience. Many times, I wanted to—and sometimes did—snap at my eldest. I had to put myself in his shoes and realize that he’s being a real trooper taking all this in.

3. Spend one-on-one time with your older child

Here’s the rough part. As limited in time as you already are, it’s still important for you to spend alone time with your older child. Connecting with her for as little as 10 minutes can prevent whining and tantrums.

She needs to feel like she still has you in her life and that the baby hasn’t usurped her special place in your heart. A simple game, cuddles on the couch, or a quick trip to the park can do.

Take advantage of the times your baby is napping to be with her even for just a few minutes. These special times, short they may be, could be all she needs to know everything is still all right.

I noticed a difference between the days when I was able to spend one-on-one time with my eldest and the days when I couldn’t. Since I breastfeed the twins, I wasn’t always able to be with him as much as I’d like.

But even a few minutes of one-on-one time helped. We’d take a quick walk around the block, or I’d bathe him and put him to bed.

4. Find things for your older child to do while you’re with the baby

One challenge with balancing your older child’s needs with the baby’s is what to do when your hands are tied.

Let’s say you’re nursing or feeding the baby and can’t be up and about with her. Put together a few toys and activities she can do on her own. Then, when it’s time to feed the baby, give her a toy to play with or a book to read while you sit nearby to feed the baby.

5. Highlight the cool things big kids can do that babies can’t

Your eldest can start to believe that being a baby is the way to win people’s hearts. After all, visitors coo over her new baby sibling while she gets less time and attention. Everyone seems to ignore her needs.

That’s why it’s important to remind her how awesome it is to be a big kid over a baby. Big kids and toddlers get to run and play, talk, draw, and eat yummy food. She can sleep later (or not as often), go to fun places, and otherwise get to do so many things her new sibling isn’t able to do yet.

6. Encourage your older child to help with baby duties

One of the best ways to help your older child feel involved is to include her in baby duties and routines. As a big sister, she can feel more responsible, independent, and proud of contributing to the family and helping out. She can:

  • Get the diaper
  • Fetch towels
  • Hold a toy for the baby to see
  • Get a burp cloth
  • Put bottles in the sink
  • “Push” the stroller

All these tasks can remind her that she’s an important part of the family helping in her own way.


Sometimes, bringing a baby home is difficult not because of the baby, but because of your older child’s behavior.

Start by showing empathy so he feels heard and understood. Enforce boundaries, but pick your battles as well. Spend one-on-one time, even as little as 10 minutes. Give him fun things to do while you need to be with the baby.

Remind him about the cool things he can do as a big kid that the baby can’t do yet. And finally, enlist his help with duties so he feels like a contributing part of the family.

My older son made tremendous strides in welcoming not only one but two new siblings into his life. He no longer minded when the babies cried—even as he realized they weren’t going anywhere.

How to Encourage Siblings to Get Along

p.s. Check out Eat, Sleep, Poop by Alexandra Penfold to help her learn more about what babies do:

Eat, Sleep, Poop by Alexandra Penfold

Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab The Power of Empathy below—at no cost to you:

The Power of Empathy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I just stumbled on your blog today and have really enjoyed reading your post. I have a very similar family; a now 4.5 year old daughter and 1.5 year old boy/ girl twins. I felt very very similar to the post you wrote about concerning your twins. After the first 3 months of the twins life it got much more manageable and sane. Then at 6 mths of life we could breath easier. I am a stay at home mom, who has a very active husband when he is home, but no other outside help. I fully breastfeed both my twins and am really passionate about it. it sounds like you are attempting the same. I loved the help i got from other multiple moms. feel free to message me if you have any questions. Props to you for a vaginal delivery I tried and ended up having the first vaginally and the 2nd emergency c section. It was aweful! We love our life with twins now and we have all adjusted beautifully! Good luck to y’all!

    1. Thanks for the reassurance annalisa! We’re still in survival mode over here but I’m looking forward to when things become a bit more normal again 🙂 and thanks for reaching out for support; I agree that relating to other twin moms even digitally has helped me a ton! Glad to hear that you guys are doing well; it gives me hope lol.