“Hold Me” – Older Sibling Regression


A 3-year-old girl, who recently became a big sister, was in a therapy playroom which had a doll crib and a doll carriage. The little girl was trying to put herself into the doll crib and then into the doll carriage. She didn’t fit and became upset. The mother who was with her tried to explain that she was too big to fit in the doll crib or the doll carriage. The mom said, “You are a big girl, way too big for this crib and carriage.” This information was not of comfort to the little girl who continued to express her distress. At this point the therapist turned to the little girl and asked, “Do you want to be a baby?” The little girl nodded yes. The therapist then said, “You might be too big for this doll crib and carriage, but you are not too big for your mommy’s lap and arms.” The little girl climbed into the mother’s lap and as her mother held her, the little girl relaxed and they both enjoyed a special moment.

For many reasons making time for these special moments are essential. It allows parents to continue the bonding/attachment process with their older child/children. Although the bonding/attachment process begins before a baby is born, it continues throughout childhood. New older siblings are witnessing the bonding process between their parents and the new baby, which may make their needs to bond grow stronger. Being held, rocked and treated like a baby allows the older child to revisit their initial bonding experience.

My suggestion is to allow and normalize the moments that your older child regresses to their baby state. I also suggest that you support and encourage the developmental stage that they are currently in. It is written that it takes humans nearly a quarter of their lives getting ready for independence. Regression at times is part of the process.

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