connecting with your middle child

Many grown middle children report experiencing a lack of attention or falling into the role of peacemaker between arguing older and younger siblings. But luckily, research conducted by Dr. Catherine Salmon, author of The Secret Power Of Middle Children has shown that although middle children may tend to get less attention than their older and younger siblings, this doesn't always have a detrimental effect.

Middle children are more likely to turn to siblings or friends for support, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. They often grow up to have very successful friendships and marriages, which Salmon thinks is due to their unique position as the middle child.


Still, with so many middle children reporting feeling left out, it's important to make a conscious effort to give them some focused attention and ensure they don't feel ignored when you get swept up in the busyness of life.

Here are a few methods to help build a deeper connection with your middle child:

1. Create special time

Set a timer for anywhere between 5-30 minutes, and tell your child it's special time, one-on-one quality time without the distraction of siblings. Make sure you have a quiet space away from the rest of the family and turn off your phone.

As you spend time together, shower your child with your warm attention and simply delight in being together. This is a great way to dole out equal amounts of attention regularly, and a useful tool to reconnect after busy times. Having time together with your middle child will help remind them that they are loved and that you are there for them.

(Be prepared for older and younger siblings to demand their fair share of special time too!)

2. Reflect + listen

Listening time is a time when partners spend time taking turns talking and listening together about how parenting is going. It's a time to clear your head of stress and day to day worries so that you can think more consciously and reflect on your parenting.

Having this space to reflect may prompt you to notice the times when your middle child has been left out and might need an extra dose of attention. If there's a pattern in your family of the middle child being left out, then it's a good idea to spend some focused time talking about what's going on for them, and how you can help.

Spending time talking with the warmth of a compassionate listener can help new solutions pop into your head. You might feel overwhelmed with the demands of three or more children, but listening can help you start afresh with renewed energy and ideas for the complex task of balancing your attention.

3. Try love bombing

The term love bombing was coined by Oliver James, a UK psychologist and author of Love Bombing: Reset Your Child's Emotional Thermostat. Love bombing is the idea of spending 24-48 hours of saying yes to whatever your child wants, and showering them with love.

James describes this as a way to reset your child's "emotional thermostat" by taking time away from everyday life so they can soak up your love. Saying "yes" helps them feel accepted and in control. It's a powerful antidote if family time has been taken up with the needs of older and younger siblings.

Love bombing is an especially good practice to try as your child gets older and spends more time away from the family. If you notice your middle child's behavior going off-track—they've become more grumpy, whiny, or non-co-operative—then these are all signs that you might want to consider love bombing.

4. Be mindful during times of change

Whenever there's stress or upheaval, even if it's of the positive kind, it's always good to check in with yourself and think about how your middle child is doing. A bit of special time and love bombing before a change, or while in the midst of it, can help your emotional ties to stay strong. Having time to talk over how everything's going for you whether it's with a listening partner, friend or therapist can also save your sanity.

5. Conduct family meetings

Weekly family meetings are a great way to ensure every member of the family is heard. It can be a time to discuss what's going well as a family, and what's more challenging.

If you only have a limited amount of time, or if one child likes to communicate more than others, use a timer to ensure each child has equal time to speak. Treating each child as a respected member of the family whose opinion is valid can help if a middle child is feeling neglected.

Giving middle children attention is so important, and with these tools, it is possible to have a happy, harmonious family where everyone feels included. So take some time to hang out with your middle child, and trust that you are bringing up a human being whose position in the family is not detrimental, but is in fact, a gift.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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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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