The love and excitement you felt while bringing home your first baby must have been beyond words. The feeling will be twice as special, the second time around, as you’re not just having a baby, but your first child is going to have a sibling. Unlike the first pregnancy, you will be well-prepared for the second baby as you are aware of the drill. But this time around you will find yourself pitted against new challenges.
Now, your eldest will have to deal with sharing the parents’ love and adjust to the new dynamics of the growing family. However, preparing your child before bringing the baby home, will have a positive impact on the latest addition to the family. And in time they will realize that the new baby is the best gift from you to them. Let us find out, how to start working towards this bond.
How Will the Dynamics of the Family Change?
During your first pregnancy, you only had to take care of yourself and the baby. But in your second pregnancy, you will be busier with the added responsibility for your first child’s needs, your new baby and recovering from the delivery. The first 6-8 weeks post the birth of your second baby will be demanding, as on one-hand you are feeding your baby while on the other your eldest requires your undivided attention.
Divide the Responsibility
The only way to deal with the needs of both your children is by dividing the tasks with your partner. For instance, fathers can take care of the eldest as their needs are less demanding compared to the youngest. With erratic sleep and feeding cycles, mothers should take a little time off from taking care of the older sibling.
Prepare Your Home in Advance
Stock up your supplies to avoid running errands in-between taking care of two children. Prepare meals and freeze them to avoid cooking for every meal. Ask for help from family and friends to pitch in and help whenever necessary. Define a space for both the baby and your first child to ease the process of sharing the same house.
Caring for Both Your Babies
While your newborn may commend most of your time and attention, it is very important to give equal time to your first child. As per the National Childcare Trust, “Your toddler might feel left out in the early days when there is naturally so much focus on the new baby. Often you may need to attend to your newborn first, for example, if they need feeding or a nappy change. Make sure you talk to your older child about their new exciting role as big brother or big sister and what a great job they’re doing.”
How to Prepare Your First Child for The Arrival of The New Baby?
The behavior of your first child towards their sibling varies according to age. If your first child is above 4 years, their reaction to the baby will be positive. But if your first child is a toddler or below 3 years then the dynamics change as they are less receptive of change. Hence the following techniques will ensure smooth bonding of both your children:
Talk to Your Child
Talking to your eldest child about the baby is a good way to break the ice about the situation. Keep them in the know-how right from the time you know about the baby, to create anticipation and familiarity with the newest member of the family. Once the baby is born, teach your first child how to play or interact with them. Include them in taking care of the baby, in their capacity to build an effective bond with their sibling.
Also, it is equally important to talk to them and understand how they are feeling about the newest member of the family. Be supportive of their feelings and assure them in a good way. By knowing their feelings, you will be in a better position to help your child in knowing and liking their sibling.
Keep a Close Watch
Until you are aware of how your older child will react to your new baby, keep a close watch on both. If your older child is rough or going to hurt the baby, you can deter the action at the earliest. Distract their behavior by giving them their favorite toy, putting on a show, etc. to help and not blame the child while protecting your second baby.
Don’t Blame the Baby
In your efforts at creating a positive impression of your second baby, try not to blame everything on the baby. For instance, if your child wants to go to the park and but your baby is sleeping. Tell them we can go once the baby is up, instead of we can’t go because the baby is asleep. Such small exercises lead to the inclusion of the baby in their family without seeming too drastic.
Breastfeeding the Baby
Breastfeeding your baby when a toddler is around can either be easy or hard. Some children tend towards being clingy and jealous when their mom is feeding their little sibling. Especially children who are close to their parents find it hard to accept this transition. Ease the process by creating distractions for them when you are feeding. According To What To Expect,” Though this won’t be possible for every single feeding, nursing your littlest one while your bigger one is otherwise occupied with Daddy or your partner (or even a nanny or sitter) can help make the whole thing easier for both of you. For toddlers, out of sight is often out of mind, and if he’s busy playing his favorite game with his babysitter or running outside with Daddy, he won’t even be thinking about you or the baby.”
Treat Them Equally
Treat both your children equally. Do not make statements that compare both of them like,” your younger brother started to speak earlier than you” or “he doesn’t cry much”. These statements will play as criticisms in your child’s head and invariably pitting them against each other. This is not a healthy way to create sibling bonding. And in the same way don’t praise the eldest more than the baby, as it will create a sense of neglect and superiority towards the baby. Keep it fair and equal.
Lastly, parents remember to not panic and make it difficult for your children. They are young and they will cry and be impatient, but you will have to hold the ground and make the transition smooth for them. Happy Parenting!