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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m at my wit’s end on this one. We have a 6 week old baby and a toddler who will be three in a few weeks. The toddler is very loving and doting of the baby, always hovering to make sure she’s ok, helping out with changing diapers and feeding (mostly by nursing her doll beside us!) and giving the baby lots of kisses. But now it has also become her outlet for aggression, and she is constantly putting her hands all over that baby’s face and kissing her VERY hard (to the point of the baby crying). In retrospect, we probably created this issue by giving her so much positive reinforcement for being sweet to the baby, but live and learn. So, here’s where I’m out now. We have tried multiple “boundaries” such as – the dr. wants us to only kiss the baby on her hair (the baby did have a stomach flu and cold by the time she was a month old due to big sister passing it on through hands and kisses, I’m sure), hands are for arms and legs – not faces, etc. It doesn’t seem to matter – she is always all over the baby with her hands, trying to put her fingers in the baby’s mouth and kissing her. I have tried every kind of correction technique I know that is GD, and nothing is working. And this is a frequent, constant thing (she will dash into wherever the baby is, throw her hands all over her, and dash back out) so its hard to be consistent with my response because sometimes I’m nursing or cooking or whatever. I try to head this off by giving the toddler lots of extra attention when the baby is asleep and when dh is home, but I need advice on handling the issue when it occurs. I’ve tentatively settled on the boundaries being “one kiss on the hair and absolutely no hands on the face,” but I’m open to suggestions if you have better ideas. What are your suggestions for consequences if she does it? Seriously, I’ve tried ignoring it (or removing the toddler without acknowledging anything since I think this is all just about attention), being stern with a “no,” getting her to apologize, time out, and none of it has worked, but maybe I’m just not being consistent enough. There is a ton of change in our lives right now (a new baby, I’m usually a wohm and am home on maternity leave, dad is usually a sahd and has just gone back to work, and potty learning), and I’m way more stressed at home than I ever have been in dd#1’s life (although that is getting better as I figure out this 2 kid life), so I know a lot of this is normal, but I still have to deal with it to protect my little one. Plus, I don’t think it is acceptable to let the toddler think she can act this way towards her little sister, or anyone. Sorry for the long post, but I really need some good advice, and wanted to spell it all out. TIA!
 

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This is a toughie---I'm in the same situation---6 week old and an overexcited/affectionate 2 3/4 yr old. I think the only way to do it is to keep baby off limits unless you are right there with the baby. Otherwise the older sib just takes his/her liberties and the baby is at their mercy. I have started wearing my little one in a sling to watch her and this has helped---also putting doorknob covers----the kind that prevent entry by little people---and closing the door where the baby is unless I can be in there. This has helped curb that over-eager affection away from playing with the baby as if he were a toy and couldn't break. And when correcting, do your best to avoid an angry tone or act harshly if baby gets hurt---the older one seems to deflect this attitude back to the sibling because she can't do it to you. Assume that she's trying to listen and be gentle but just goes too far because she hasn't learned to internalize what you say. This comes in a few months, after they reach three. And realize it's a lot of stress on her, too---this will help you cope gently. Hope this helps.
 

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Been there, done that. Twice. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> Really, the only thing that worked for us was to keep the baby out of reach of the toddler. Literally. All the time. You probably don't want to hear that, though.<br><br>
We don't let the older children touch the baby's head or face or hands, period. They're off limits. We explain that baby puts those things in his mouth and he doesn't need to get sick. They're allowed to touch his feet.<br><br>
It's tough. It's gets better when the baby is mobile and they can play together. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I'm in the same boat, although now that DD is a little older (10 weeks) I'm not QUITE as nervous about DS touching DD. For the first month, though, I either wore her in a sling or she was sleeping in the cradle - DS didn't have much of an opportunity to touch DD. Now that DD isn't quite as fragile, and DD is awake more, there is more interaction, but it is closely supervised. DS doesn't hurt DD on purpose, but he has no clue about personal space. So, I'd have to say our solution has been supervision for all interactions and lots of the baby being out of reach for the toddler.
 

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I agree with the suggestion of keeping baby out of reach as much as possible, since you know aggression is likely. That becomes difficult when you're nursing, though, unless you're good at nursing with baby in a sling and never sit down to nurse while your toddler is awake (I was never good at that). So if you'll be sitting to nurse I suggest having some interesting activities available for your toddler. When my third was born, nursing time was often also reading time. I'd sit and nurse while my kids sat on either side and we read stories. But again, sitting together and reading works only if there's no aggression.<br><br>
I don't think really that coming up with some kind of consequence is necessary. Really, I think it's enough to firmly say "gentle" and stop her aggression and show her how to do it gently. If it seems she's using aggression to express something, help her figure out what that something is and help her learn to communicate that more effectively. I think imposing a consequence (like time out, etc.) can interfere with your message, and can create more conflict.<br><br>
Also I think it's very important that you acknowledge the difficult feelings your toddler is having, if you aren't already doing so. She's likely conflicted, loving the baby but also really feeling jealous and maybe wishing the baby weren't around, likely angry. She probably dislikes, at times, having to share you. I'd talk about all these feelings with her, how it's hard to be a big sister. I think if she feels heard about these feelings and if she is reassured that it is normal, she likely won't need to use aggression as her outlet so much. And make sure, though it's hard to do with a newborn, that your toddler gets some focused attention from you each day.<br><br>
This'll pass. It's a rough transition for everyone.
 

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I dont have much advice but lots of sympathy<br>
I have a newborn and a3.5year old<br>
for my older child, she is allowed to hold the baby in her lap with me or dh helping maybe once or twice a day<br>
she is genuinely possessive of her little sister and I feel that this helps her to feel she is part of the action - I don'tknow if this might help you - ie. she can have a 'play' time with the baby and then at all other times she is hands off ??
 

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I'm going to bein your boat in mere weeks from now, so just offering a virtual back pat...I plan on slinging the newborn as much as possible.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>BurgundyElephant</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Been there, done that. Twice. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> Really, the only thing that worked for us was to keep the baby out of reach of the toddler. Literally. All the time. <b>You probably don't want to hear that, though.</b> .....</div>
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Ha ha! You're right-- some mom's really don't want to hear that. And when I think of all the mom's who have put up with violence against their newborns and infants because they don't want to put limits on their older kids....it kind of riles me up. Yea, they're all flesh and blood-- but you wouldn't let a stranger harm your yougest child. Why's it not so bad when the older sibling presents the danger???? (And I'm an only child, so that's why this situation always looks peculiar from where I stand. Maybe if I had sibs I'd understand it more.) Otherwise, I would have suggested the same thing-- keep the baby out of reach. No need to feel guilty. It's just that the toddler just isn't old enough and mature enough to understand the safety needs of a newborn. I can't imagine a flu or stomach bug in the first month of life. My DD didn't catch a cold until two weeks after her first birthday. (Her @#$!% papa brought in a cold from work. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">: ) Maybe my case is extreme, as I hear the average baby gets 5-6 illness in the first year. But It really is possible to keep the youngest one's safer if you limit contact and keep a lot of Purell around the house. Even when we went out, I kept her covered in such a way that others couldn't even see her until winter passed and she was old enough to sit up in a shopping cart. Once I stopped keeping her covered, sure enough, strangers started touching her hands, and occasionally her face. (Then I'd whip out the Purell as soon as their backs were turned.) People just don't think about all they've been handling and that they've been sneezing-- and then babies put their hands in their mouths. Us mom's have to do the thinking for them.<br><br>
Faith
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to all of you. I sling most of the time, so my main times that the issue would occur were when the baby is in the bouncy seat while I'm cooking, while we're nursing, and when she's in her carseat and we're trying to get out the door. There's no place in the kitchen I can put the bouncy seat that is elevated, and I was resisting having to put her in another room, but I decided its worth it. So, yesterday I put her on the dining room table (its just a few steps and I can peek around the corner to make sure she's ok), made sure the car seat was on the table while I was getting ready to leave the house (as opposed to the floor), and stood to nurse if the toddler was awake. Anytime she would ask to hold her or kiss her, I'd say "one kiss on the hair, absolutely no hands on the head." 95% of the time she did it, I quickly put the baby back, and all was well. The other 5% of the time, she'd put her hands in her face and I'd remove the baby and say "I know its hard to not touch and to be gentle. We can try again later if you'd like." She threw a fit, but I just kept my cool, put the baby down, picked the toddler up and took her in another room and found something for us to do. One time I couldn't put the baby down (she had just had a major spit up spell and I was cleaning her up) and the toddler had to cry for a few seconds, then she stormed off, but when I went to get her (like 45 seconds later) she had already found something else to do. I also filled my husband in our new mantras and he started using them - I decided that if we were both saying exactly the same thing all the time maybe that would help (I plan to tell my mother, too). Well, what a difference - many fewer battles and better attitude. I think I was resisting the "remove the baby" concept because I want the toddler to love her sister and somehow I thought this would hinder that, but I think I had it backwards (at least for this stage and age).<br><br>
Thanks for all the help, and good luck to those of you in the same boat!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>LovinLiviLou</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think I was resisting the "remove the baby" concept because I want the toddler to love her sister and somehow I thought this would hinder that, but I think I had it backwards (at least for this stage and age).</div>
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I know what you mean. I keep thinking that if I give them more time to interact, my toddler won't be ALL over the baby every time I set her down. Luckily nursing isn't really an issue here. I just explain that you can't bother the baby when she's eating and offer to read a story (propped on my knees so DS is in front of me and can't reach DD).
 

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nak...<br><br>
I am gladto read this <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/duck.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Duck">: because I was thinking we are having these problems b/c ds1 is only 18 months older than ds2.<br><br>
My ds2 is 7 weeks and I sling him ALL the time. If he's not in the sling he is in a bouncy on the bathroom counter where ds1 can't reach him.<br><br>
My main problems are diaper changes! Ds2 often gets a slap on the head from ds1. Also, sometimes I want to sit down to nurse (even though nursing in the slling is what I usually do) and this can be problematic.<br><br>
It does get tiring though.<br><br>
I also feel that having the babe in a sling prohibits me from interacting closely with ds1... which I feel bad about. Does anyone else feel that about the sling.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SugarAndSun</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My main problems are diaper changes! Ds2 often gets a slap on the head from ds1. Also, sometimes I want to sit down to nurse (even though nursing in the slling is what I usually do) and this can be problematic.</div>
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Would it help to have your older child help with the diaper changes in some way? Get a diaper, or open one up, or hand you wipes, or something? Give him a "job", if he generally enjoys helping? Or change baby where your older one can't reach (on a changing table or other higher place)?<br><br>
If you want to sit to nurse, can you have some really interesting activities that are <i>only</i> for those times? Or could you sit to nurse while reading to your older child? I found that turning sit-down nursing time into close time for everyone worked well, it gave the older kids the closeness they needed and thus prevented any feelings of jealousy/wanting attention/frustration that they might've otherwise felt. And it kept them out of "trouble" (so they weren't running around creating messes, or fighting).<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SugarAndSun</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I also feel that having the babe in a sling prohibits me from interacting closely with ds1... which I feel bad about. Does anyone else feel that about the sling.</div>
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I wore my 2nd and 3rd babies in the sling a lot, very nearly all the time with my 2nd, and I never felt it kept me from interacting closely with my older ones. I'd sit on the floor to play or color with baby in the sling, really did everything I could comfortably do with baby in the sling. I did find that it was helpful sometimes to not put baby in the sling, but on the floor nearby or in a bouncy seat or (if asleep) in the bassinet and to tell baby (if awake) "I'm helping/playing with big brother/sister right now, it's his/her turn" and then play as long as baby was content. In this way, the older kids go their time and since they were occupied they weren't trying to handle the baby. Sometimes I just had to find other ways of closely interacting so I could be standing or moving if that was what baby needed.<br><br>
It gets easier. Really. Hang in there.
 
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