Adding a new baby into the family is a huge transition for everyone including siblings. We know that after the birth of a baby older siblings can really struggle with feeling left out. Some children will embrace the role of big sister or brother and happily help out with bringing diapers and bathing baby, but many will regress waking up more often in the night, whine and become clingy, or fight with other older siblings.
As Infant and Postpartum Doulas, we talk a lot with our clients about how to make the transition for your older children easier and one of the tips we find to be very successful is what we call the “Infant Feeding Treasure Chest”.
Whether you are bottle feeding or breastfeeding, newborns need to eat on average 8-12 times in a 24 hour period.
That means you are going to find yourself stuck on the couch and hands busy with your baby several times throughout the day while you have needy older children tugging at your leg. This is the perfect time to introduce them to their very own special “Infant Feeding Treasure Chest”!
This special “Treasure Chest” is filled with new toys, books, and tactile discovery objects that are ONLY pulled out when the baby is feeding.
This way when it is time for you to feed the baby you can announce happily to your older children, “It’s time for the baby to feed, go pull out your treasure chest and let’s see what’s inside!”. Then invite your child to sit next to you on the couch while you feed and they can play with their special toys next to you, or you can open a book together and your older child has the special big kid role of holding the book by themselves and turning the pages while you read aloud to them. You will find that the time spent feeding your new baby is now enjoyable for everyone in the family!
It is important that the Infant Feeding Treasure Chest goes away between feeds so that the toys and books inside of it remain novel and exciting to your older children.
Although if your child has a hard time putting an object back in the box after you’re done feeding, allow them the time to play with it a little longer – it’s better to avoid a battle and you can always collect it later and put it back in the box.
Every few weeks change out the toys/books with new ones to keep things exciting. Some great Treasure items (depending on the age of your older children) are:
- plastic animals
- fidget toys
- stackable toys
- toilet paper rolls
- connector straws
- pipe cleaners
- colouring books and crayons
- special sticker book
- costumes for dress up
Sarah Baker is a the co-owner of Lifetime of Love Doula Services. She has been supporting families for almost a decade as a birth doula, postpartum & infant care doula and childbirth educator. She is mom to three boys, twins and a singleton.