3 Year Old Adjusting to New Baby Brother

Updated on December 27, 2008
L.P. asks from Old Greenwich, CT
10 answers

Hi all

Just had a little boy on 12/18. My three year old loves him and is so happy he has a baby brother. He tells him not to cry when he crys, helps me a decent amount changing diapers, etc. I involve him as much as possible. BUT he still wants to 'play' with baby brother. He rocks him a bit rough in the bouncy seat. Touches his face a lot and leans on him heavy when he kisses him. He has not tried to on purpose harm the baby in any way but I am very nervous. My baby was crying last night and my three year old put his hands over his mouth and said to me with such confidence 'its ok mommy, this will help him stop crying'. I am so afraid he is going to harm him by accident. I am constantly on top of him and wont leave them alone for a second. Any advice? I explain he is fragile and small all the time and praise him when he kisses the baby or does anything positive because I dont want him to feel like he is a part of this and not secondary (because he is not of course).

Looking for advice.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the advice. Keep it coming. I agree with everything. After I did the first post, my son did swat the baby a few times even with me sitting right there. Each day since Monday is has gotten less and less. He would kiss him and then swat him in the head and look at me. He is definately jealous and testing us and it does concern me. I dont leave them alone for a second. But as I said, yesterday evening and today, only one swat. I was very very firm with him and he had an immediate time out when he did that. I give him as much attention as I can and involve him with almost everything with the baby. So I will continue to watch. He can be soooo gentle and loving and happy and then the next its like enough, I dont want him here. I heard it can take awhile until he fully adjusts.

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answers from New York on

Congratulations, L.!

It sounds like you are doing a great job already. 3 year olds need supervision with newborns, there is no way around that. Continue teaching him to play gently and remind him that his little brother will be more interactive as he grows.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

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answers from New York on

You're doing exactly what you should be doing!

Have faith in yourself here. You're clearly following your instincts (not leaving them alone, calmly but firmly redirecting your 3 year old, etc.), so just keep it up!

And btw, kudos to you for the early efforts at spending that extra time with your older son too. :) So many parents don't have the energy for that until months later, once some really bad behaviors have developed. Keep spending that quality time with him, and you'll be very pleased with the results!

And congrats on your healthy new baby!



answers from Jamestown on

Tell him that he can only touch the baby softly... when he kisses him, remind him to do it soft....only soft touches, etc. Just keep reminding him.."soft".

This always worked with my kids...they understand soft, and if you keep reminding him, he'll catch on. Also show him how to touch softly, how to kiss softly and bounce the baby softly.... he'll get it.

This is all very natural, and will all come together for you.



answers from Binghamton on

Hi L.,

This is very normal. Unless your son is unusually rough compared to other kids, try not to worry. I'm not saying don't keep a close eye on him, because you need to, but he will grown tired of mauling the baby. It is still very new to him! Remember he's probably over excited about Christmas too. Hopefully things will settle down soon!

I've got 5 kids and none of them have ever harmed a newborn...but I have had a newborn pee on an older brother once...that was pretty funny! Although fragile, newborns are pretty resilient and can handle a little bit of roughness from an older sibling. After all, babies have had to put up with curious older siblings since the beginning of time! My daughter bit her baby sister and left a huge mark on her cheek when the baby was just a few months old...but now that that baby is 2 (turned two December 18 by the way) she has definitely gotten even. She has bitten her older sister in just the same way she was bit as a baby. No matter how vigilant you are, you simply cannot keep an eye on them every second.

You're doing a great job. Try not to stress too much. It will all be ok!

mom to 5 with one more on the way



answers from Rochester on

You will find yourself saying all kinds of things you never thought you'd say to any child:

"Stop poking your sister's eyes!" is one I remember my friend calmly saying to her older son while she was on the phone.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

Hey L.,

Congratulations on your new addition. I agree with Karen just keeping using words he can understand like gentle, softly, and he will understand. I am going to date myself here but when I was 3 my mom took home my brother from the hospital and I pinched him terribly on the leg leaving a pretty bad mark. So she put a note on the door and asked all visitors (family and friends) to please make sure to pay attention to me before seeing the baby. So I asked her what does the note say mommy she said "Its for the milk man so he does not deliver milk tomorrow". Well tomorrow came and the milk was at the door and she said I looked at her and said "Mommy I guess the milk man can't read!!! Just make sure family and friends pay close attention to him to prevent jealousy and I am sure he will continue to welcome his baby brother. Happy Holidays!!



answers from Buffalo on

I think I would just talk to your three year old about what you are doing to the baby to get him to stop crying and why. Maybe while doing that you can tell him why it is important to be gentle to the baby. I found that explaining things I did with my second child, to my oldest made her realize what she could do with her baby brother and what she could not do with him. My daughter was 3 when I had her brother so I have an idea of what you are going thru. I know they mean well and want to help which is why I would explain almost everything to my daughter and gave her little jobs to do to make her feel like a big girl and a little helper in the family. She would love to get diapers, help picking out which kind of baby food we would feed her brother and so on. I recomend you do something along those lines. And I guess it would problably be for the best if you dont let your oldest with the baby unsupervised. They mean well but dont realize the severity of what can happen when they do certain things. Good Luck! And congratulations on the new edition!



answers from Rochester on

How about a doll? My DS was three when baby brother came along. He would do what I was doing to his doll. It became his baby.



answers from New York on

Welcome to the world of toddlers and babies. :-)

My son is 3 and our baby just turned 1. The past year has been nerve wracking for me worrying about what would happen until the baby was more sturdy. LoL Fortunately we all made it through!! (We also have a 6 yr old girl.)

My neighbor's boy almost suffocated their baby when the father stepped out of the room for only a moment.

I don't know what to tell you except expect to be exhausted for a few months until everyone adjusts. I don't think 3 year olds really understand how fragile babies can be. Good luck!!!



answers from New York on

Oh, goodness...I feel your pain! My son was born 12/13. His big sister turned two in September. I am trying to let her be a big sister, while still keeping baby safe! What I've decided to do is to make a "line" in my mind - as long as she doesn't cross it, she's fine. She can cuddle him, get too close, talk too loud while he's asleep - that's all fine. So far, baby has learned to sleep through just about anything she can throw at him. She's two - she won't understand, or remember, the need to be quiet!

What I WON'T tolerate is hitting, muffling, covering his face...and so far, we're doing pretty good. Your big boy covering baby's mouth would be where I would draw the line with my daughter, probably resulting in a time out or some other punishment that she would remember.

Good luck? I think babies are remarkably resilient, but there is a line that big brothers and sisters should learn not to cross!

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