Two and a Half Year Old Ignores New Baby Sister

Updated on September 02, 2009
B.R. asks from Lodi, CA
10 answers

My daughter ignores her new sister, not only does she ignore her but when the baby cries she cries. She won't even look at her sister! (She also cries when her cousins make loud noises such as screaming when playing, at social gatherings when it gets loud).
She had become very clingy to me the last two months as I was off during my summer break. We also moved to a new home about six weeks before the birth. Since the move she hasn't been on a schedule, stays up past midnight with her father and sleeps late into the day. She has also given up her nap. I was trying to get her back to her schedule but she continues getting up until I give up. She asks to go sleep in her car seat while the car is parked in the garage!
Today I had a small breakthrough as she sat with the baby and I. When the baby awoke and whimpered, she started to cry and got off the chair.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hello B.: You surely have a little one having a rough time and needs to be understood because she can't speak for herself.
I am the mother of 5, the Nana of several sweethearts, and have done day and foster care. (Just so you know that I have some experiance with little ones).
You have thrown your little one into a typhoon of changes, emotions and she can't put it all together as fast as an older child will. Each adjustment alone could take weeks but add them all at once or in a short time You Are Lucky; your little one is copeing!!!
1.Once when we brought home a new baby son after our 2 yo 2nd birthday - we had thought we had prepared her did all the right stuff--- but people kept coming to see the baby and one foolish person seeing my daughter was upset said" do you want me to take the baby? so my little one went and drug the diaper bag to her!! Seems that she thought we were only waiting for its mommy to show up and she really did want a kitty forher birthday not this noisy baby that could not even play.
2. once when we moved from one side of town to another new house. Even though we had been there daily and had talked about it a lot my children couldn't sleep or eat the first month we were there unless everyone was together. I finally figured out that they were scared spitless that things were changing on them even if it was forthe better it was a change. (from that time on when we moved we had the things for their rooms ready to be set up first so they had the things they knew and were comfortable with in place in the bedrooms). For your child to be desperate enogh to want to sleep in the car seat for security says so much about how insecure the feelings are. I can say from my experiances that it is not a stag or attention getter --- they want the peace and security they knew before all the changes and of course will cling to you as their parent and rock.
So we just had everyone together and I made sure that we played and read and played more until they felt safe. I can tell yo that it is not unusual for 2 yo to give up naps at all but because you have flipped their world it may become a rareity ever again. If your child has had to change all the boundries even sleeping then it will take a lot of kind love and patience and saying out loud that you know they are going to be alright once again- it reassure both of you. TIME is what you need and I hope that you will consider something that I have learned to do with my grandchildren when their worlds are rocked-- I whisper loud enough so they can hear yet they think they are the only ones that can hear** me tell them how important they are to the family, that they are #1 in my I Love You book, and anything else that I wish to say. I can be holding another child, while I do this or better I am holding them when I do this so that they feel that I am still 100 % theirs and not having to share. Shareing for a little one who hasn't had to do it is a awful concept. Good Luck in your adventure of parenthood and I know that itis the most rewarding thing you will ever accomplish. Nana G

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Maybe her ears are sensitive to certain pitches or something. Maybe find an audiologist and have her ears checked out. Also, she may be uncertain of this new human being. Have you showed her some pictures of when she was a baby? Maybe that could help her understand.



answers from San Francisco on

Dear B.,

You have two babies and your oldest is still adjusting and seems to be very sensitive. I think it’s important to get her back on schedule and “don’t give up or give in”. I hope you have your husband’s help and support.

By no means should she be allowed to go sleep in the car unless you are traveling and in the car with her.

Try to get her more involved with the new babies care. Let her bring a diaper, powder, towel etc. Praise her for her help and what a good big sister she is. Ask her what she thinks the baby needs. When she starts to cry for no good reason, say something like, “please stop crying and talk to mommy”, in a comforting manner. However, if it’s clear she’s just having a fit, put her in timeout or in her room.

Nap time, let her know she still has to take rest and must stay in her room even if she isn’t sleeping. She can look at books or play quietly on her bed. You must reinforce your daily routine or pretty soon you will have two little ones with out of control schedules. So don’t give up!




answers from Sacramento on

I can understand your consern. Like before letter mentioned, make sure all her familiar things she is used to are out and around her. New baby has to be held and gets attention, maybe she feels the same. However you mention she cries when cousins make loud noices. Has this been going on sense the move and new baby, or longer? You could be looking at some other disorder. Talk to both family's about past children looking for like behaviors. Hopefully its just the changes and she'll soon get over it. God's Blessing, N.



answers from San Francisco on

It seems like this little girl is saying loud and clear: i do not want this sister! This might be scary for you, as a parent, but if you think about it from HER point of view, it will be easier to understand: She did not ask for it, she was not involved in the decision, and in the short term - it is against her best interest! Young children are very self-centered, so any attention to a sibling feels to them like you take something away from them.

This is not to say that in the long run she will love her sibling, but going through jealousy is normal. But it present a challenge to the parents as well. On one hand, we cannot un-validate her feelings, on the other hand - we want her to "get over it". This is the hard part.

As you can see, the older child see what get the parents attention - crying- and do the same. Basically, she knows how to be a baby, she was good at it. So she will keep doing it, until she gets what she needs: validation that she is loved and wanted and that the new baby is not replacing her.

What all this is translated to is finding ways to give her a lot of attention, a lot of time alone with Mom, and not forcing the baby on her. She does not have to be happy with the new baby (for now), be patient, play with her. She should not be aloud to hurt her sister (that is another way to get Mom's attention), but she should be aloud to express what she cannot say it words: that she is worried, that she is jealous, that she wants what she had before.

All the other elements of moving etc are not helping either, but the main issue here is the adjustment to the new family situation. If you can find as many moments in the day to give her your undivided attention - she will let you give the attention to the new baby without so much fuss. The more she feels you understand her - the faster she will learn from you to care to the new baby. She cannot help it being self-centered, this is where she is developmentally. this is what we have to work with, and whan she will be more secure (by her loving parents) and more mature - she will be able to extend her love to her sister.

This is the blessing a second child bring to the table: the challenges of family dynamic!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi there,

I don't know enough about your daughter to make any kind of assessment, however, some of her behaviors are symptoms of "sensory integration" (affected by loud noises, over stimulation, clingy). Do a search on Google to read about it and see if it may apply. It could also be a bit of jealousy going on. Try to make some one-on-one time with her, alone while dad or sitter takes new baby sister. Also, include your 2.5 yr old in bathing the baby, dressing her, reading to her etc. Give her special privelages that only "big" girls not "babies" get. Hope that helps.



answers from San Francisco on

Little girl has had two huge changes in her life with a new baby sister and moving. It takes time to adjust with one and she has two to adjust too. Well, make that three big things in her life as she is sharing her Mommy and Daddy with someone new. Can Daddy watch the baby so you and her can spend some one on one time and you can be with the baby so she can have some speical Daddy time too? Your yes must be yes and your no must be no. When you lay her down for nap time, tell her she must stay there until the clock says a time. Put a clock by her bed and mark the nunbers the hands must go to. Do not give up. It will take time to get her back on a schedule. I have seen on The Nanny a Mom or Dad take their child back to bed over and over and over and over. It does take alot of work but it is worth it in the long run. She will find out her little sister isn't going anywhere and get used to her but she needs time. It is called, "The Gift of Time" and it works.



answers from San Francisco on

My daughter had a very hard time when her sister was born too. She was a little over two at the time and just needed a lot of my attention. It didn't help that my younger daughter was colicy for 3 months. What seemed to work is trying to have her do "big girl" tasks, like getting a diaper for her sister or something else and tons of praise. When the baby was napping or once daddy got home, it was all about her. I think just reassuring her that she will have alone time with you when the baby is napping (i.e. not in your arms, but in the crib or pack-n-play or swing) and when daddy gets home. My daughter also dropped her naps right when our daughter was born and I hate to say it, she has rarely napped since and she is now almost 5. I think she just wanted more time with me when the baby was sleeping. It took us a while for our older daughter to become adjusted and like all kids, she still needs her alone, special time with mommy. Best of luck, it will get better.

Take care,



answers from San Francisco on

Hi B.,

I would focus on getting your oldest back into her routine first of all. If she has some sense of structure and feels that someone else is in control of her schedule - which she may think she wants to be in control of, but doesn't really want to be - she will feel more secure. Also once she is sleeping normally and is therefore well rested she may be more patient with getting to know her new sister.

It may just be that she just needs some time to get used to your new addition. I would let her take it at her own pace. Don't push, give her as much time and attention as you can and just let her come round in her own time. She'll get there.

Good luck. I'm going to be in a similar sitiuation in a few weeks time, so I feel for you.




answers from San Francisco on

it sounds like she needs some special attention, she's had some major changes recently, the move and a new baby is alot for her to take in. just love her give her extra attention and she'll work through it. good luck

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