There is nothing sweeter than a smiling little infant; giggling and burbling, kicking his legs and swinging his arms, amazed by the limbs he only just discovered. He is like a little star from the heavens, all wrapped up in blankets. Yet, perhaps more touching than that may be a toddler holding his infant brother as excited as a puppy. And also, there is nothing more absolutely terrifying than a toddler holding his infant brother, eyeing him like a new toy. “Please don’t poke the baby.”
Follow me back a few months. When first we brought home #9, once everything calmed down, or maybe before it calmed down, #7 walked up to Wife and asked, “I howded the babe-ee?”
Standing right behind #7 was our one year-old, #8. While Wife helped #7 hold the baby, #8, feeling left out, simply pointed and shouted indecipherably… steadily getting louder and louder. Finally, Wife had him crawl up on the couch. As she had done with all the other babies, she held the infant while placing him in the toddler’s lap. As she did, she told #8, “Gentle now. Don’t touch the baby’s eyes.”
Nine children deep, and some things never change. The new baby has always been a source wonder, joy, and curiosity. The children, no matter how many we had at the time, were always excited about the baby and anxious to hold him (or her, five children back). Wife has learned to encourage and foster the children’s affection for one another right from the start. So, even the littlest was helped to hold the new baby. “No honey, don’t pull the baby’s ears.”
You see, with nine children, we have an advantage over small families. No, I don’t mean if we lose one we have spares… I mean, that after two or three children, Wife and I realized that the children are less breakable than we first believed.
Therefore, it is without too much worry that the toddler is still allowed to hold the infant. And when we see our baby holding the baby, a giant grin on his face, all our earthly worries melt away in the sweetness of the moment. But then the toddler got tired. “DON’T THROW THE BABY!”
That is why, no matter how good a toddler seems to hold his sibling, never get out of arms reach from the baby.