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Family Medical Associates is a multi-specialty group located in Lebanon, Tennessee, where we have proudly served our community since 1975. Our experienced group currently manages all aspects of family practice, total pediatrics from delivery room through adulthood, internal medicine, and general surgery.


Sibling Rivalry Toward a Newborn


     Sibling rivalry toward a newborn is a natural jealousy of older children toward the new baby in the house. Siblings may be jealous up until the age of 4 or 5. Obviously, most children would prefer to be the only child and get all your attention. They may regress during this time and begin to wet themselves again or start thumb-sucking.

To help prevent this problem, use some of the following tips:

Before birth:
     *Talk to your older child about the new baby and let them feel the fetal movements
     *Find a hospital that provides sibling classes and enroll your child, if possible
     *Move the child from the nursery or crib (if still there) several months before the baby’s birth
          so they don’t feel pushed out by the newborn
     *Talk to them in advance about your hospital stay

While in the hospital:
     *Call your older child daily
     *Have your older child visit the hospital
     *Encourage Dad to spend extra time with him/her

At home:
     *Spend the first few minutes with your older child, and let someone else carry the baby into
          the house
     *Give him/her a gift from the baby
     *Give your older child extra attention at home
     *Encourage him/her to help with the baby as much as they would like (within reason), but
          don’t force interaction
     *Don’t scold older children or ask them to “be quiet for the baby.” Newborns can sleep fine
          without perfect quiet.

     Remember, accept regressive behavior, but promptly intervene if aggressive behavior occurs. Time-out is preferred, since spanking or hitting your child may encourage him/her to hit the baby.
     These suggestions should go a long way in helping your older child accept a new baby, and, hopefully, prevent sibling rivalry.


Submitted by Benita Qualls, PA-C


Sources:  Instruction for Pediatric Patients, 2nd edition, by Barton D. Schmitt, MD and Family Medical Associates Pediatrics Handbook.