Siblings may not always want to play with each other. But even a few minutes a day can be a wonderful bonding experience for both of them.
Birth to Six Months
Babies as young as one month will imitate facial expressions. Have your older child sit with you, take turns making silly faces and wait for baby to copy what you do. The baby’s funny expressions will delight a toddler or preschooler.
Shoe your older child how to gently shake a colorful rattle about 8 inches away from baby’s face. This is the distance at which newborns can best focus. As the baby follows the rattle with her her eyes, she is learning to associate the object with the sound it makes. And, big brother or sister will feel important because he can make the baby do something interesting.
Six to Twelve Months
At this wonderful age, babies begin to learn that objects and people exist even when they can’t see them. The game of peekaboo offers reassurance, surprise and plenty of giggles. You can take this old game further than just hiding your face in your hands though. The big kid can hide a small toy under baby’s blankie and then pop it out, for instance. Again, the older child will feel a real sense of accomplishment because he can entertain the baby.
Fill and Spill
Have your older child fill a pot, empty box or lightweight container with soft or plastic blocks. Then, have your older kid show the baby how to dump it out. Repeat 😉 Your preschooler will delight in making a mess and your little one will be honing her hand coordination.
Twelve Months to Two Years
Read to Me
Preschoolers love to “read” their favorite picture books, and babies enjoy sitting and looking at pictures. Invite your older sib to tell the story of her favorite book and point to the pages while baby watches.
Save up single serving cereal boxes for this simple stacking game. Tape the tops shut and let the kids take turns stacking the boxes one on top of the other and see how many can be piled up before they all fall down. Your older child can practice counting the boxes as they are stacked up.