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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?

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

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Sand play set

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Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

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Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

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Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

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Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

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Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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