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5 Ways to Keep Older Siblings Happy While You Care for Baby

Thanks to Vtech for sponsoring this post. Click here to see more of the discussion.

A few days ago, I had one of those moments that every parent of multiple children has experienced and probably dreads. I was home with all three of my kids and everyone was doing their own thing. I sat down to nurse my 4-month-old baby and had just gotten him latched on when, instantly, his two older siblings were in “dire” need of me.

“Mom, can you tie the sash on this princess dress right NOW?!?”

“Mommy, I just spilled da LEGOs. ALL DA LEGOs.”

OK, so obviously my definition of dire and their definition are really different. But it’s no coincidence that as soon as I engage in a baby care activity that involves any focus, my older two kids come swarming and want my attention. I can even vaguely remember pulling these same hijinks on my mother when my little brother was born. It’s natural to want to garner attention from mom, especially if you’ve been getting less than you’re used to.

One of my first challenges, after bringing home my second and third babies, was navigating those times of the day when my hands were just full. When bathing a newborn you cannot do anything but that. Same goes for diaper changing and feeding time. You are not available to fix snacks or help look for missing shoes. I quickly learned that the best way to keep the vibe happy in our house (and save my own sanity) was to keep those big kids occupied. And yes, throwing on the TV is always an option, but my second baby nursed so frequently that the TV would have been on for 12 hours straight every day if I had no other strategies in place. Instead, I came up with a few tried-and-true methods for keeping older siblings happy while caring for a new baby.

  • How do I keep my big kid happy while I care for my newborn? 1 of 6
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    Let's get started!

    Photo credit: Claire Goss

  • Get Some NEW Toys 2 of 6
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    You know nothing keeps your big kids busier than a brand new, shiny toy. Some people were super thoughtful and included toys for my big kids with new baby care packages and, wow, did that make for some happy big siblings (and peaceful nursing sessions). When my kids got this VTech 2-in-1 Shop & Play Cookset they were downright gleeful. I passed it off to them and within seconds they decided to make a grocery list, go shopping and cook the meal--all from this one toy. They were totally engaged in an elaborate imaginative role play and I loved it because I was also very much involved in the play, too, from my nursing chair--I made some grocery requests and got to "sample" their creations from the Playset. 

    Photo credit: Claire Goss

  • Craft It Up! 3 of 6
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    I am probably the least crafty mom on the planet. Really. But for the sake of my sanity I bust out some simple crafting supplies before I know it's going to be baby's bath time. Heed my advice and choose wisely. You don't want to give your big kid anything too frustrating or it will just result in more stress for both of you since she will need help and you won't be able to give it. I'm a big fan of Play-Doh, new coloring books, foam stickers, or pipe cleaner sculptures. These are all no muss, no fuss and should keep your bigger kid happy until bath time is over!

    Photo credit: Claire Goss

  • Read a Book 4 of 6
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    Reading a book is one of the few things I can do while I'm nursing the new baby. And no, it's not always easy...the book sometimes falls awkwardly out of my lap and I have to get one of the kids to turn the pages. But we hit the library frequently and a fresh stack of books keeps the big kids happy.

    Photo credit: Claire Goss

  • Play a Game 5 of 6
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    Sometimes when I was nursing the newborn my daughter would approach me with Candy Land and I had to regretfully decline. I just don't have the hands to pick cards, move pieces, etc. So instead we started playing a few rounds of games that I can do from my seat, such as Eye Spy. Another great game is a house or room scavenger hunt, like "Go find something blue!" or "Go find all the round things in this room!" (above)

    Photo credit: Claire Goss

  • Involve Big Sib in Baby Care 6 of 6
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    Obviously there aren't many ways to directly involve the older sibling while you are, say, breastfeeding. But you can keep your bigger kids happy and occupied by asking for help with related tasks. I ask my daughter to run and grab a clean burp cloth or diaper for me and she is now my official helper during bathtime. It's great when she feels like she is an important part of the baby care routine.

    Photo credit: Claire Goss

Read more of Claire’s writing at Rants from MommylandAnd for even more silliness follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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