I suppose there is not much that you can play with a baby under three months old.
But studies have shown that talking and singing to the baby can greatly help to stimulate their learning of language at a young age. More importantly, it builds a stronger bond with the baby.
After all, who doesn't enjoy being given attention?
1. Intentional interaction begins from Day 1
As much as the baby may not seem as exciting or fun to play with as your toddler's favorite toy, we should still encourage our older children to spend some time to interact with the baby every day.
I remember my boys' attention for their baby sister would only last for minutes at each time. They would take a look at her, pat her tummy and go back to their toys.
My older son would also ask to carry her so we would let him hold her on his lap. But even then, these episodes only lasted a few minutes, sometimes only seconds because the baby sister wasn't willing.
2. Involve the baby in the older children's play time
Very often, I would carry the baby and sit around to watch the boys play. I would narrate to her what her brothers were doing and also got the brothers to show their sister what they were playing with.
As much as my younger son didn't seem that interested in his baby sister at the beginning, I could tell there were times he did enjoy assuming his new role as a big brother.
My daughter is now 20 months old. She absolutely adores her brothers and enjoys playing with them all the time.
She gets all excited to see them when they come home from school and gives them spontaneous hugs at times too.
The brothers also enjoy helping her and teaching her about how she should be playing with certain toys.
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3. Encourage older siblings whenever they show initiative and care
I notice that my daughter has picked up certain dexterity skills much faster than her brothers did at the same age.
She also prefers playing with toys and figurines suited for three years and above, instead of her infant toys, because she keeps seeing her brothers play with them.
She definitely has the wonderful advantage of observing and learning from her big brothers.
The brothers have also blossomed into their roles as older siblings, growing in maturity, sensitivity, and ability to care for each other.
I think naturally, siblings will have affection for each other, regardless of their age when the younger sibling comes along.
But I believe it certainly helps if parents play an active role in promoting sibling interaction right from the beginning.
Every time you notice your older child showing initiative in caring for their younger sibling, show encouragement!
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Tell them how well they are doing as the older sibling and how fortunate the younger sibling is to have such a caring or loving big brother or sister.
Show your appreciation for their help whenever your older child offers a helping hand such as bringing you a diaper for the baby or keeping an eye on the baby when you go to the bathroom.
Words of encouragement and appreciation from the parents will most definitely build their pride as the older brother or sister and make them want to do more to care for their younger siblings. (Read: Preparing the Older Child for the New Baby)
More importantly, the more time we intentionally get our children to spend together, the more they will learn that they are a team, instead of rivals fighting for the parents' attention. (Read: Managing Sibling Rivalry)
The younger siblings gain affection from their older siblings and get to learn and model after them.
The older siblings feel an increase in sense of responsibility and self-esteem by being in the position to guide the younger ones, help them and care for them.
Intentionally encouraging positive sibling interaction will forge strong bongs that last a lifetime.
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