Behavior Problems After Bringing Home New Baby


We recently wrote about how and why toddlers act out. It is fairly normal behavior during those infamous “terrible two” years. Now, let’s add in a major transition like a new baby sibling into the mix. You can prepare your child as much as possible for your new addition but you will probably still encounter some tough moments.

What should I do if my child begins to misbehave and act out?

Remember, that most behavior at this age and especially in this time is for attention. Your older child is afraid that they are being replaced and struggles with a way to handles and/or communicate their feelings. He might start breaking rules even if it means being punished. Praise your older child when she is behaving well. You can try ignoring the behavior, especially is this has worked in the past. This might encourage your child to look for a more positive way to get your attention.

If your child is older, talk to him. Ask him or her how it feels to have a new sibling. The just listen and love.

Older siblings sometimes regress after the arrival of a new baby — toilet training accidents or baby talk. There’s no need to punish this type of behavior. Instead, give your older child love and assurance.

How can I encourage gentleness with the baby?

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Sometimes older children take out their frustration on a new baby. If your older child tries gets rough or tries to hurt the baby, talk to them about appropriate behavior. Also, give your older child extra attention and include him or her in activities that involve the baby, like bathing or changing diapers or even letting them hold the bottle. Praise your older child when he or she acts lovingly toward the new baby.

Even if your children seem to get along, supervision is essential. Do not leave your newborn alone with a young sibling or other young child.

How will my older child react to seeing me breastfeed the new baby?

If you plan to breastfeed your newborn, you might wonder how your older child will react or how to keep your older child busy while you nurse. Explain what you’re doing and answer any questions your child might have. If you breastfeed your older child, explain that you once did the same thing for him or her.
Create a breastfeeding routine that involves your older child. He or she can help with a diaper change before the feeding or getting you a pillow or water. To keep your child entertained while you nurse, set out special toys beforehand.
Children’s Medical Center has a lactation consultant on staff that can also help you with this and any other breastfeeding concerns you may have.