Number 2 on the way….what were we thinking??
Our oldest loving her little sister….every moment wasn’t always this precious!
Most parents experience pure excitement and joy when they learn they are pregnant with their first child. They dive right in to learning about a healthy pregnancy, preparing for labor and delivery, and planning the nursery. Often the experience is a little different when pregnancy occurs for the 2nd time. Yes, there is excitement, but there is also first hand experience with the first few months of a newborn. I can remember being extremely excited and happy when I found out I was pregnant with our 2nd daughter, but my thoughts also included “What the heck were we thinking? ” “How can we handle another baby….when will we sleep?” “Corri is still a baby herself!” “How will I ever do THAT much laundry?”…..
Yes, the 2nd time around, and the 3rd and the 4th, we knew what we were getting into…and that is a mixture of pure joy and pure terror! How do you prepare for baby #2?
- Remember to take care of you! With the first pregnancy, that was on everyone’s mind. Now, taking care of your first-born is first on the list! Be sure that you are eating well, and sleeping well. Still try to lie down when your little one naps or rests.
- Give your first-born the news when the time is right. Remember, 9 months is a very long time in toddler time. When your body starts to change, and others are noticing, then it is probably time to tell big brother or sister about the new baby on the way!
- Always talk about the baby as your child’s too. Have your child talk to and even pat or kiss your tummy. If your child asks questions about where the baby is….no need to panic. You do not need a full explanation of the birds and the bees. Just answer the question simply and if your child wants more information, he or she will ask. Let them guide how much information you give.
- Let your child go to the doctor with you and listen to the baby’s heart beat.
- Check out books from the library about babies and big sisters and brothers. Show your child pictures of you when you were pregnant with them and when they were babies.
- Visit friends that have babies.
- Buy a doll or special stuffed animal to practice gentle touch. This doll or animal can be a help once the baby is born.
- Shop for baby items together. Let your child pick out a special new toy, or outfit for the baby.
- Transition your child out of the crib to a toddler bed or big bed several weeks before the baby is born.
- Start to clean and put away any baby equipment that might be out still. Put away baby toys that will be brought out later. This will help your child forget about them being theirs!
- Stock up on a few “gifts” that can be given to your child when others bring baby gifts to the new baby. A few dollar items to give to big sister or brother may help.
- Have a plan for the day or night of delivery. Where will your oldest go? Who can help out those first few days while you are in the hospital? Make sure that your older child knows the plan, especially if your child is preschool age or older. They need to know who will be caring for them when you leave. Try to disrupt their routine as little as possible.
When the new baby arrives!
- When big sister or brother comes to the hospital, it is best if the baby is not in your arms. Have the baby in the crib and then allow older brother or sister to meet and greet the baby. Let them hold the new baby with help.
- Have a gift that big sister or brother brings to the baby that they have picked out. Have a small gift for the big sister or brother from the baby too!
- Once home, let your older child help as much as they would like. Having them stand on a stool next to you while you care for the baby works well. Often they are very interested in the beginning and the newness fades quickly once they find the baby doesn’t “do” much yet!
- Give your older child a specific job they own…like bringing you a diaper. They will feel important! Be careful not to interrupt their play to have them help you though!
- Be positive with your words. If you can’t come play with big sister or brother because you are busy with the baby, say “In a minute I will play…want to see what Mommy is doing now with baby sister?” Don’t blame the new baby for your delay.
- Have a “nursing or feeding bag”. Hang this bag on a door knob. Have books, toys, quiet games and activities in this bag. When it is time for a feeding your older child can go get his or her special bag to help entertain. Moms have laps that can hold two when feeding also! Let your older child snuggle up next to you on a couch as you nurse or bottle feed.
- Try nursing or feeding your baby sitting on the floor. Put your baby on a blanket for “tummy time” or put the baby in a bouncy seat so you can sit and play with your older child too. Being at their eye level on the floor helps your older child to feel less left out.
- Point out things that the older child can do because he or she is a big girl or boy! Being big is exciting!
- When people ooh and aah about the new baby always ooh and aah over the older child too!
- Let the older child open the baby’s gifts when they come.
- Be very clear that there is a “no hurting” or a “be gentle” rule. Give your child other ways to express angry or jealous feelings. If there is a poke or a rough touch, an immediate “time out” is given. Speak firmly, no yelling necessary!
- There are times when you must put down the baby and pick up and cuddle your older child….just because! Be sure to do this several times a day.
- Allow for regressive behavior. If it is not harmful let it be. Any major milestone recently reached may be dropped for a time. Your older child may talk “baby talk”, have accidents if potty trained, or throw more tantrums. All this is temporary if you do not give it much attention!
- Don’t expect your toddler to handle jealous feeling politely. Toddlers are not necessarily polite! It is difficult for adults to handle jealousy so of course a 2-year-old will struggle! A toddler will smile and hug their new brother or sister when he or she really is happy about that baby, not because it is socially expected!
- Make it a point to spend some individual time with your older child each day. That might be a story together, a quiet game, or even just a trip to the grocery together without the baby. A few minutes a day of undivided connection is all that is needed. Dad can help out with this too!
- No guilt….sharing Mom and Dad’s attention is one of life’s important lessons and a sibling is one of life’s greatest blessings.
- Be patient with yourself, your partner, and your child. This is all new! A snuggle, a hug, positive words and a good belly laugh will make the moments of “What were we thinking?” become fewer and fewer!
Next….how to handle older children and sibling rivalry!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.