I wanted to make sure my oldest felt seen when the new baby arrived—so I did these 5 things

It helped my oldest feel seen and validated while we navigated these new waters.

I wanted to make sure my oldest felt seen when the new baby arrived—so I did these 5 things

Becoming a mother for the very first time fueled me with so much enthusiasm about every single thing my child did. I was infatuated with my firstborn. But when my second baby came into the picture, I often found myself feeling so stressed in managing two little people that it felt like I was falling short on my first baby's emotional needs.

I've struggled with having enough patience with the challenges that come with toddlerhood—like messes and attitudes. There's even been a bit of a disconnect as I've had to be more physically present for the baby by feeding him and being extra vigilant of his surroundings.

So how did I stop my feelings of guilt in order to make sure my oldest felt seen and validated while navigating these new waters? These five things helped us tremendously.

1. Show them affection

It is so easy to stop cuddling your oldest because you don't "have" to carry them anymore or because they prefer running around or because you have your hands full with a little one. Or maybe they are much older and that physical affection seems awkward. Whatever the case may be, remember to remain affectionate with them.

There are multiple ways you can do this. As I say in Spanish, hazle cariño, cuddle with them, take advantage when your little one is asleep or is with another adult, and hold your big kid's hand, give them a hug, rub their shoulder.

Touch and affection is a powerful thing. My husband and I have been teaching our oldest to let us know when she needs affection so I try my best to put down whatever I'm doing when she asks to cuddle and say yes.

2. Show them justice

When I was younger, there were many incidents where my siblings would go through my stuff like my crayons and notebooks and tear it all apart. It not only broke my heart but I felt unheard and unseen when my parents would tell me to just get over it or say something like, "You're the oldest, you should know better."

But my friend brought up a great point recently that really resonated with me—just as much as we need to remember to "baby" our oldest, we also need to be stern with our youngest. If my little one is grabbing my oldest's toys or hitting her (even playfully) and she seems bothered, instead of telling her that he's little and doesn't know any better, it's best to remove the little one from the situation and tell him in front of her that he needs to be respectful of her stuff and her body.

Our children get conditioned early on and our energy is received when we dismiss or honor something. So I try to make sure my children feel like I am looking out for them and that I make just decisions for them in these situations.

3. Give them your time

I talk with my big girl, I engage with her whenever I can—I give her my time. Right now, I spend so much more time with my youngest for so many reasons, which my firstborn is very aware of. That fact paired with all the chores and to-do's that need to be done, I find it hard to set time aside to play with her.

But I realize most of the time, if I just sat down with her for a few minutes to play or to engage with her in a conversation, I probably could've prevented the tantrum that took much longer to cool down from.

If possible, I'm sure setting up a special one-on-one date with her would make her feel very special. A few other friends suggested involving them in your creative work if possible or even asking them to help you with some chores. This way they can feel like they're included and they see the important work that you do at home. The time you spend with them will translate to love and meet their needs.

4. Be mindful of them

Consider their needs and be patient with them. Empathize with these big feelings they are figuring out. I feel like when I am mindful of my daughter, she feels loved and the trust we have between us gets even stronger. This sense of trust is so important to me so that she knows if she is feeling scared or stressed she can come to me and tell me, and we will figure it out together.

5. Acknowledge your big kid

I think many times as eldest, we just wanted to be acknowledged. We want recognition for all the time and help we've dedicated to our families.

Eldest children sometimes take on an important role in trying to set an example and taking on many responsibilities as that is often the role we are given. And whether those expectations are met or not, eldest kiddos just want to know they are seen for who they are and are appreciated for what they do, even if just for being present.

Acknowledge your eldest with words that hold value like recognizing them for being responsible and dependable or even words that go out of the service context and recognize them for their unique qualities like them being inquisitive, thoughtful, funny, creative, etc. They will hold onto those words more than you know.

And when its all said and done, remember to be kind to yourself as a parent. It's so common to feel guilt when we catch ourselves slipping into habits we're not proud of like yelling or a lack of affection. But it happens to the best of us. All you have to do is reflect and reset your intentions.

What are some other loving ways you treat your oldest?

You might also like:

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less

Parents knowingly sent COVID-positive kids to school—and that's a sign society is failing families

Parents shouldn't feel as though they have no other choice.

Parents across the nation are adjusting to school being back in session during a pandemic. From converting dining rooms into virtual classrooms to totally derailing their careers, parents are finding ways to make it through this unprecedented crisis.

It turns out that there is yet another challenge to overcome: parents knowingly sending their COVID-19 positive children to school. Yes, it happened in Wisconsin this week.

Keep reading Show less