top of page

4 Tips on How to Parent Siblings.... who won't hate each other

OK so you're parenting a tiny human and you (finally) feel like you're getting the hang of it! You got their schedule down, you're starting to feel like yourself again (albeit a new version) and you and your partner decide "You know what? Let's have another one!"

First off, congratulations! Whether this was you right now or sometime in the past, I am so excited for you. Parenting siblings is more than twice the work BUT I think it's more than twice (or three or four times depending on how busy you get) the love and fun! That said, parenting siblings comes with new challenges so I wrote this article to try and help you along the way. PLEASE NOTE: this is not an article on how to parent a second (or third/fourth/fifth) child. This is an article on tips on how to parent SIBLINGS. This is all about the interplay between your kids (and you!)

Tip 1: Let the older child(ren) dictate the relationship.... at least at first

This might see obvious but I assure you, no matter how much you repeat this mantra, it will still be hard to implement. Your older children may want NOTHING to do with this newcomer. They may want to ignore them or pretend they don't exist for a week or even several months. They may say mean or hurtful things about wishing they didn't exist. They may not say they "love" their sibling FOR YEARS. All of these are normal but they're going to be hard for you to sit there and take in the moment.

Let me paint you a picture, you introduce your brand new baby (who you are TOTALLY obsessed with) to their older sibling(s) whether at the hospital or at home and the older sibling looks right past the baby as if they're nothing but a crumpled blanket and and starts telling you excitedly about what treat Grandma got them while they were on the way there.

Are you hurt? Are you sad? Are you worried about their future relationship? Those are TOTALLY VALID EMOTIONS but in that moment, what your older child needs is mom/dad to act like "pre-baby" mom/dad and respond excitedly, also effectively ignoring the BRAND NEW HUMAN IN THE ROOM!

I'm not saying that all siblings, universally behave this way. Many seem to be very "team baby" initially and sour to the relationship when the novelty wears off. Some siblings never go through the "baby jealousy" phase at all.

The key here is to let the older sibling come to the baby when they are ready and on their terms, whether that is in the first moment they meet or literally 7 months down the road (seriously for my oldest it was 7 months). That way sibling-hood isn't being done "to them", it's something they are deciding to own... and that can make ALL the difference.

Tip 2: Don't Blame the Baby

One of the facts of adding a family member is that your older kid(s) are going to have to wait a little longer, be a little more self reliant, and generally surrender your attention to the newest member. When that happens, it is never "baby's fault"... even when it is baby's fault.

The more you shift the blame onto the newest sibling, the more potential for resentment exists for the older kid(s). Again this one might feel like "duh, I would never blame my baby" except... I've never once met a parent who didn't slip up and do it sometimes. "Your brother needs to be changed right now I can't get that for you," "You need to calm down, your sister is sleeping," and "Just wait a minute, your brother is hungry" are all typical ways "baby blaming" occurs. These are all NORMAL sentiments but you can reframe them for better impact. For example, it is YOU that needs to care for your new baby, just make that clear! "I have to finish what I am working on. Count to ten and I'll be done."

This might seem small but its impactful. EVEN to your partner who obviously know that it isn't some manipulative effort to steal your time and affection, it can feel like "baby is taking all of you," so be on the lookout and change your language to help smooth things over.

Tip 3: Speak to the baby as if they were their siblings age

Can your 6 month old baby understand "No, we need to give that back to your brother, it's not nice to take things" or "I'm sorry, just stay there, I have to help your sister," obviously not. But speaking to your youngest the same way you speak to older kid(s) makes it clear that you're not playing favorites or replacing them.

Will this feel profoundly silly at times? Absolutely. But this simple action can cut through a whole lot of sibling jealousy. Your kids will understand that baby cannot be held to the EXACT same standard as them because baby is too little but that doesn't change the fact that they want them to be held to SOME standard. Older siblings like knowing that their parents will put them first at times and baby will have to wait (even if its only 1 out of 10 times). They like knowing you will stand up for them. So do the silly charade. It's not going to hurt you.

Bonus: Talking to your baby above their developmental level will actually help them to develop language and social skills more effectively too. In fact, some studies have shown that talking to babies as if they were adults (with big words and proper sentence structure) is the best thing you can do for their speech and lifelong vocabulary.

Tip 4: Have 1 on 1 "Dates" with your Older Kid(s)

You know what I tell couples to do when they're feeling jealous and disconnected from their partner? Go on a date, just the two of them, no phones, no kids, and just talk. Why? Because human social relationships are complicated things! We need 1 on 1 time to reestablish them sometimes when they get too complicated.

Your older kid(s) relationship with you just got COMPLICATED. They need time for it to be "like it was." So you know what you can do? Hire a sitter or recruit your partner/family to watch your other kid(s) and take the older one(s) out on a solo date. Go to a movie or to a fun restaurant or just go on a walk in the woods. Whatever you do, as long as it's just the two of you, is going to make them feel loved, cared for, and connected.

And don't end this practice when baby gets a little older and everything is "going smoothly." Having 1 on 1 time with your kids is a super healthy rhythm to set for your life. Set down a schedule every month and make sure you and your partner are each having 1 on 1 "dates" with your kids (and make sure there is at least one for you and your partner with one another too). This will help everyone feel seen and heard and loved.

Those are my tips!

I hope you found this article helpful. If you are expecting soon make sure to check out my other posts about Newborns: The Dos and Don'ts of the Newborn Phase and 6 Things You ACTUALLY Need With a Newborn

218 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page