How to Encourage Sibling Bonding from Birth

How to Encourage Sibling Bonding from Birth

Bringing home another baby changes your family dynamic drastically. Depending on the age of your first-born, this transition can be easily handled, or it might take a little effort. Regardless, don’t worry—it’s not as scary as you might think. There are plenty of ways to encourage sibling bonding from birth that will help your children develop a thriving, loving relationship that they grow to cherish. Here are some great ways you can encourage sibling bonding from birth that lasts well into their toddler, teenage, and adult years.

Be Strategic About Introductions

It’s important to be strategic about that first introduction as it will set the stage for their relationship to come. Introduce your newest to your oldest, not vice vera. This helps your firstborn feel important and valued in the family unit. Let them climb into the bed with you and hold their new sibling. While it’s a great way to encourage early bonding, it can often get overwhelming quickly. If your firstborn starts to get fussy, have your partner separate them and do something without the baby like playing with a toy or starting a puzzle. 

Never Compare Your Children

One of the most important things that you will need to do as a parent is to avoid comparisons at all costs. Your children are completely different people, and those differences should be celebrated, not discouraged. When you compare your children, you’ll create resentment that drives a wedge into the relationship. This resentment can carry on for years and create serious problems within the family dynamic.

Instead, honor your children’s individuality and respect each one’s needs on a personal basis. It can be a little difficult at first but is well worth the effort. Tune into individual differences and allow your children to grow up independently of one another. If your firstborn loves soccer but your youngest wants to participate in ballet, great. They don’t have to have the same schedules to have a close relationship. Use these opportunities to teach your children to respect each other’s differences as well as the differences of their friends or classmates.

Involve Older Children

One of the best ways to start sibling relationships off on the right foot is to involve the older kid(s) with the pregnancy. This helps them feel important and essential in welcoming the arrival of your newest family member. Involve them in picking out clothes, nursery bedding, toys, and even the process of naming your upcoming child or babyproofing the home. Just the simple act of involving them will help them begin to form a bond before delivery. It gives older children a sense of pride about their new siblings and helps to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, any signs of jealousy or resentment.

Encourage Hands-On Helping

In addition to involving older children in the planning and preparation, encourage hands-on helping throughout pregnancy and after you bring home your second baby. If they helped pick out toys or nursery furniture, let them help you assemble it. Give them a role in decorating and encourage them to make artwork that will be hung in the baby’s nursery. Once the baby comes, allow them to help with tasks like holding the bottle during feedings, changing a diaper, participating in bath time, or folding clothes. While it might seem like you’re putting them to work, they’ll appreciate the inclusion.

Teach Respect

One essential building block of a strong bond is mutual respect. Teach your children respect between siblings, friends, family, classmates, teachers, and anyone else they encounter. Respect should be a universal rule to anything they do, and you should encourage them to treat others as they want to be treated, regardless of the circumstances at hand. During this lesson, it’s important to also show them how to respectfully disagree so that they don’t ruin a relationship over differing points of views. Tell them that while they may think differently about a topic, it does not warrant name calling or rudeness.

Foster Compassion

When your children begin to appreciate each other, they’ll strengthen their bond. Throughout this development, try to foster compassion in the relationship. Compassion can help your children be more in tune with other people’s feelings, struggles, or vulnerabilities. When you foster compassion between your children, you’ll notice that they begin to help each other when they’re struggling. Having a soft heart is not a sign of weakness and is a beautiful way to create a family dynamic that brings each other up rather than puts them down.

Model Positive Relationships

Children are like sponges. They take in everything they see, hear, touch, and experience—especially during the early years of their lives. If they notice that your relationships are all strained, filled with arguments, or include rudeness and name-calling, that’s exactly how they’ll treat their siblings and even friends. If you want to encourage sibling bonding from birth, you need to model positive relationships regardless of what’s going on in your personal life. If you have a disagreement with your partner, talk about it in private and avoid fighting in front of the children or raising your voice so that they can hear you. This is arguably one of the most important aspects of building strong relationships and is a huge precursor for problems in the future. While it might be difficult to co-parent, think about your children and do what’s best for them.

Don’t Leave Siblings Out

If you’re playing with one of your children, make sure that the other knows that they’re invited to join. If they seem hesitant, put in some extra effort to include them in whatever you’re doing. Don’t leave siblings out of any activity. When one sibling feels like they’ve been neglected, they won’t get angry with you, they’ll get angry with their sibling. While this can be hard during the first few months of a newborn’s life, there are ways to include everyone. Have your firstborn read to your newborn, hold them, or even help in the bedtime routine. As they get older, include everyone in playtime and family activities.

Get to the Bottom of Conflicts

If something happens that results in a fight, don’t favor one child over the other. Get to the bottom of sibling conflicts by taking the time to actively listen to both sides of the story. It can be easy to believe what you hear without asking for the other side, especially when you’re busy. However, if you don’t take the time to listen to both of your children, you’ll set the stage for problems in the future. The best way to handle conflicts between siblings is to let them fight their own battles. Encourage them to talk to each other and act as a mediator to make sure they both get to say what they’re feeling. This not only strengthens communication; it helps children bond and understand the impact of their actions on others. 

Encourage Communication

While actions might speak louder than words, communication is still an essential. Encourage communication between your children by giving them team chores, practicing group exercises, and providing them with tasks to do together. When they have to work together to accomplish a goal, they’ll naturally develop their communication skills. Make sure that you support this development by being a positive role model in communication with your partner, friends, and family.  

Listen and Build Their Listening Skills

Listening is another important part of communication. If your children don’t know how to listen, they won’t be able to genuinely understand what their siblings are trying to tell them. Actively listen to what they’re saying and then work on building each of your children’s listening skills individually. This will help them learn to empathize and see things from other points of views.

Participate in Activities Everyone Enjoys

A great way to encourage bonding amongst the entire family is to establish a new family tradition. Some great options are family meals like taco Tuesday, baking cookies once a month, holiday decorating, planting a garden, taking a camping trip in the summer, and more. Find something that everyone enjoys and then make that a priority amongst your family. By giving everyone something to look forward to, it builds excitement and helps to create lasting memories that can be re-visited year after year. Keep an eye out for any activities that your children enjoy doing together and then strengthen those through family play.

Growing your family is exciting, but it can be tumultuous with one or more children. To help make those first few transitional months easier, make sure that you have everything you need. Secure your insurance covered breast pump before your delivery date to give you more time with your family when the big day comes. Byram Healthcare has a wide variety of options for you to choose from.