Parenting Resources

Parenting the "Baby" of the Family

Lastborns are acutely aware that they are the youngest members in the family and know they are competing with their older siblings for attention.  They quickly learn they can capture everyone’s attention by making others laugh, so they tend to be engaging and enjoy the company of others

Parents generally are not as excited about the accomplishments of the baby as they have already seen their older children walk, talk, and learn to read.  Since it isn’t as new for the parents, they may not be as encouraging of accomplishments as they were with their older children. Parents may also not take the time required to appropriately discipline the youngest child or require the baby to do chores (since the older children already are doing them).  The older siblings often recognize this and resent it – they view the baby as “spoiled”.

The lastborn recognizes this tension involved in being the baby in the family – sometimes being spoiled while at other times teased for not understanding family conversations or being left out because they are not old enough.

Suggestions for parenting lastborns:

  1. Make sure your baby does not capture everyone’s attention by doing inappropriate things to make people laugh – like throwing food at the table or tipping his plate on his head.  Immediately turn your head away and have the older siblings do the same.  Otherwise your baby may learn to be the “clown” in the classroom instead of taking school seriously.
  2. Show excitement at your child’s accomplishments!
  3. Read to your youngest!
    • Maintain the same expectations for behavior, chores, and responsibilities.  Your youngest needs to have chores – remember chores help a child feel bonded and connected to their family.  The message is, “My family needs me.”
    • Hold your youngest accountable for her actions – don’t allow her to become irresponsible.
  4. Allow the lastborn to make some decisions for the family
  5. Help encourage his independence and don’t allow the older children to do everything for him.  He can learn to dress himself and tie his shoes without siblings’ help.
  6. And, of course, don’t forget to take pictures of your youngest and make him a photo album.

For generalizations and guidelines for parenting children of other birth orders, please look below.