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6 expert ways to stop sibling rivalry

Feed them. Seriously. ?

6 expert ways to stop sibling rivalry

If you have more than one kid you know that sibling rivalry can be stressful. Maybe it starts right after the second child is born, and grows from jealousy to competition before turning into constant fighting. It’s hard on parents and it's hard on kids, but, according to experts, it is possible to turn this car around right now (figuratively).


Where your kids are developmentally impacts how well they can share your attention. Experts at the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan note that when kids fight they’re competing to define who they are as an individual.

They want to show us that they are separate from their siblings. When one kid feels another is getting too much of your attention, or not as much discipline as they do, they’re going to act out.

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Fortunately, how parents react to sibling-on-sibling conflict can make a big difference on how hard and how often they fight.

In their book, Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too, authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish put it like this:

“We can either intensify the competition or we can reduce it. We can drive hostile feelings underground or allow them to be vented safely. We can accelerate the fighting or make cooperation possible. Our attitudes and words have power.”

Try these expert techniques:

Treat kids as individuals

Recognize that, “Children don’t need to be treated equally, they need to be treated uniquely,” says Faber and Mazlish and resist the urge to compare.

Their advice echoes that of Dr. Kevin Leman author of The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are. He says treating all kids equally isn’t the best plan, as siblings are all different and impacted by the order in which they are born.

Leman, Faber and Mazlish agree: Parents need to focus on the individual needs of each child, but kids may not always understand this.

Reassure them when things seem unfair

According to the experts at C.S. Mott, “There will still be times when they feel as if they’re not getting a fair share of attention, discipline, or responsiveness from you. Expect this and be prepared to explain the decisions you have made. Reassure your kids that you do your best to meet each of their unique needs.”

Explain to the kids that older or younger kids might have different responsibilities or privileges because of age. Set aside some one-on-one time for each child every day. Just 10 minutes of uninterrupted time with all of mom or dad’s attention can make a big difference to a kid.

Encourage cooperation, not competition

Parents can set siblings up to succeed by making sure that they’re not set up to compete all the time. Do things that make them cooperate, and plan family activities that are fun for everyone. Good experiences help kids bond and act as a buffer when arguments surface because it’s hard to stay mad at someone you have happy memories with.

Let them spread out

Make sure that kids have their own space and time to be themselves. Their room or area within a shared room should be somewhere where they and their property are protected from their sibling, and they should have time to play with friends without their brother or sister coming along, too.

Listen when they are calm

Use alone time to ask kids what they like about their sibling and what they don’t like. Really listen to their complaints, and reinforce the positive things they do see in each other.

When kids feel heard, they’re less likely to squabble for your attention, so really listening to what’s going on in their lives and in their inter-sibling relationships is an important step in preventing sibling rivalry.

Feed them

Seriously. When all else fails and sibling spats are escalating, consider the time of day the fights are most often occurring and whether or not the kids have eaten recently when they get into it. Hungry kids are more likely to fight, so an earlier snack time may take the bite out of sibling rivalry.

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.

$159.99

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!

$29.99

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.

$29.99

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. 🙌

$9.99

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.

$14.99

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.

$24.99

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.

$8.99

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.

$7.99


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.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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