Falling In Love Again With Your First Born

Falling In Love Again With Your First Born

I remember sitting with Matt just before Gracie was born saying, “How will we ever love another baby as much as Tilly?” says Penny Attiwill, mother of 5 year old Tilly and eighteen month old Gracie.

According to psychologist, Rosalie Pattenden, a senior counsellor with Relationships Australia, feelings of anxiety that a second child will never be as special as the firstborn are common.

She says, “I see many couples who wonder whether they are doing the right thing having another child at all.”

Falling In Love Again With Your First Born

If you are considering (or already expecting) another baby, you will welcome Ms Pattenden’s reassurance that, ‘love is like a chocolate cake – and we have a whole chocolate cake for every person in our lives, we don’t have to divide it. There is enough love for everybody.’

However, you might also be dismayed (or relieved, if you already have a second child) to learn how normal it is for your unadulterated feelings of tenderness towards your first-born to evaporate into frustration and irritation as you fall in love with your new baby.

Penny Attiwill says, “the first few months were hard work trying to juggle Tilly’s feelings while I sat for hours and breastfed, and Gracie needed the majority of my attention. Just as Gracie latched on, Tilly would say, “what can I eat, I’m hungry?”, and I would find myself snapping, “can’t you just wait!”

Betty Chetcuti, psychologist and mother of two was completely shocked to discover she had ‘fallen out of love’ with her firstborn. She explains, “there was a point when I felt that all my love had been transferred from Nicholas (my firstborn) to Liam (the baby). Nicholas became the bad boy – I was tired and stressed and I was always upset with him.

Chetcuti’s wakeup call came when she was watching a video of her children. She says, “Liam (the baby) was standing doing nothing for about five minutes and there was Nicholas in the background whimpering ‘Mummy, Mummy’ the whole time. I had panned the video towards him for a moment and offered some superficial praise, then focused straight back on the baby.”

Chetcuti, who now shares her hard won mothering skills along with her professional knowledge through ‘Being a Mother’ workshops, went into action to rekindle the flames with her older child. She says, “One thing that helped was a drawing I made of a sun with Nicholas’ name in the middle. Each day, I wrote down all the good things he did at the end of the rays – for instance, if he wanted to share his toast, instead of being annoyed I would write down ‘sharing’. This helped me change my perception so I was focusing on the positives instead of being hypersensitive all the time, and really taking time to notice Nicholas helped me fall in love with him again”.

Penny Attiwill’s tip for keeping love growing as your family grows is letting the first child help with pushing the pram and baths and nappies so that they feel they’re really involved. In a way, watching Tilly do those things made me love her even more. She was so gentle and proud of her new sister that my appreciation of her as an individual deepened.

Tips For Learning To Love Again:

  • Look at your first-born’s photo album to remind you how adorable (and agreeable) she used to be – and will be again soon.
  • Give yourself time with each child separately. Taking turns with your partner, rather than simply handing the older child over to him, will help you both bond with each child.

Remember, if you had a close, loving relationship with your first child there is every reason to believe those loving feelings will return.

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International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Parenting Editor, Author, Infant Massage Instructor & Mum of five


  1. This article was very helpful. It brought tears to my eyes. I just had my second child February 7, 2015. And I have 4yr old. I often feel frustrated when she demands attention at the same time or when she climbs on my back when I’m trying to burp the baby. But she is my first born and I love her with all my heart. So I will follow this advice and focus on how much joy she brought to our lives since the moment I found out I was pregnant so that our relationship can be the same as before the baby was born ♡

  2. I have the same feelings.. Its such a impossible thing to admit. I feel like a terrible mother. I have a 4month old and a almost 5yr old. My 5year old irritates me a lot.. She’s just trying to get more attention. She sometimes wakes up unexpectedly and just cries inconsolably. She never admits why she cries but I know it’s because she is still adjusting to the change..shes sad.. It breaks my heart. Whatever this is.. My feelings need to change. I will try your tips

  3. What if your a single mother. How do you keep that bond with your first born gain a bond with the new born and of course work. All without losing your mind?

    1. Wow….I can totally relate. I miss my relationship with my first born (she just turned 5). We were so close. She is my whole world and now I just feel like she is so hurt with so many changes (new babay brother now 14 months). Mommy and daddy separating (it”s been a year now). She is always disobeying, and fighting with me. She was so used to just the 3 of us and my whole attention. I find my self so angry at her for being so defiant because she used to be so sweet. I know she is just hurt and it hurts me to see her like that. I feel like I lost my sweet baby girl and I don’t know what to do to get her back. I am now just trying to spend alone time to reconnect with her and I have seen how she does feel so happy when we can have this time. I hope we can get back to that place where we were each others whole world. She’s my frist born, my sweet baby. I need her back and she needs me.

  4. This article is really helpful. I’m also facing this.I have a new baby aging 20days and another of 3years. In the first few days after returning from hospital,While I was breastfeeding my new one,my elder child was looking at us with a sad eyes,now he is busy with his father.he plays,he eats,he do everything ,which he usually did with me,do with his father. but now,when my new member felt asleep,I give time to my elder son.I do some flirt,sometimes play with him,and now gradually he is becoming normal with me. 🙂

  5. I dont understand the video reference. Im sure she has magnitudes of videos and photos of her first born doing nothing special. The 2nd born deserves some photos ect of his life too.

    1. The point of the video was that at that moment, the baby wasn’t doing anything- so he did not need her then- whereas the older wanted her. It’s not about having an equal amount of videos and photos, but directing your attention to whichever child needs it more atm rather than fawning over the younger one 24*7 and basically forgetting the older one exits. Because that is exactly what the woman did- turn a blind eye to the older one. She could take several pictures of the baby when the older one is not around, but not at the expense of the older one wondering feeling if his mother loves him less. I actually felt appalled at that part. I’m very surprised you felt it wasn’t a big deal. Glad this was a wake up call for the woman.

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