Bringing a new baby into your home is always a big deal and a big adjustment for everybody involved. Whether it is your first baby or your 5th, this tiny little being is wholly dependent on you, so naturally changes do take place.
Bringing Home Baby Number One
When it comes to baby number one the focus is on mum and dad. As new parents, the prospect of being handed a new little person to care for 24/7 can be quite daunting. You often have very little idea what to expect, or exactly what changes are in store for you and your little family.
Once they arrive, of course everything just falls into place. You slowly find yourself coming out of the newborn fog, with a much clearer handle on this parenting thing, and your life has adjusted to this new little person.
Then you decide it’s time for a sibling.
Second Time Around
Of course, just because you already have one child, doesn’t make baby number 2 any less daunting. You are suddenly going from two on one (mum and dad vs baby) to two on two, and all hands are going to be on deck for this one. You may be a little more aware about what is to come for you, but it is still such a big change for your lives.
But, there is another little person to think about now. Your first child is set to become an older sibling. They are used to having you and your partner all to themselves for their entire lives, and all that is about to change. Depending on the age gap, they may be completely unaware of what any of this means.
Helping Your Child
It’s important to prepare your older child for the arrival of a sibling, even if they do seem too young to comprehend. It is amazing just how much little minds can take in from such a young age.
Here are some great tips for helping ease the transition for your little one before the baby arrives:
Talk them through the entire process. While it might not be ideal to bring them along to hospital or obstetrician appointments, make sure you still include your older child in the process. Tell them you are off to see their baby brother or sister, show them ultrasound photos, and pat your belly and explain that’s where the baby is growing.
There’s no need to be technical about the whole experience, but you want to baby to be a regular topic of conversation. Nine months is a long time in a little person’s life, so use it to your advantage. By talking about the baby for nine months, it will be less of shock when they do arrive. Plus, their comprehension will also develop as they get older, so as the months go on they will understand more.
You can develop that bond from the beginning:
- Ask them to sing a song to the baby
- Read a book together to the baby
- See if they would like to pick out some clothes for the baby
- Get their help setting up the nursery for the baby
Make sure you also talk about their role when the baby arrives:
- Are you going to help mummy dress the baby?
- Do you think you will help cuddle the baby?
- Do you have some favorite books you would like to share with the baby?
Practice Makes Perfect
Boy or girl (no gender stereotypes here!), buy your little one a doll in the lead up to the arrival of their sibling. They will love being able to mimic you once the baby arrives and it’s a great way to teach them how to be gentle and treat the baby before they come.
If you are buying or setting up a new pram for the baby, get your older child involved and ask for their help. You can also get a pram for their doll so they can feel as involved as possible.
Once the baby arrives, there are plenty more things you can do to ensure the transition is as easy as possible:
Help Is Always Needed
Kids just love to help, and let’s face it, with a second baby’s arrival, you could use all the help you can get. The tasks you set for your little one will depend on their age. If they are quite young, keep it simple. Leave the nappies in a place that is easy to reach and ask them to bring you one each nappy change.
You can also get them involved in all the different tasks that come with caring for a newborn, but remember, don’t force it. They may want to join for a few minutes before they get bored and want to run off with their toys, and that’s great! They will feel included and happy to head off on their own. Here are some tasks they might be able to help with:
- Swaddling baby: let them help wrap the baby with your guidance.
- Cutting nails: of course, don’t let them attempt this one on their own, but just simply let them watch. Here are some great tips on choosing the safest way to cut your baby’s nails.
- Bathing baby: Either pop them in the bath together, or if this is too hard, let them come into the bathroom at bath time and help out. Give them a washer and let them help clean their baby brother or sister.
It may seem impossible in those early days of feeding and settling, but once the newborn fog starts to lift, set aside some time each day to play with your older child. It only has to be 10 minutes. It’s important to remember to get down with them and spend some quality time, so they get their dose of mum and dad too.
Giving them this time also means they will be more willing to play on their own at other times and won’t always be fighting for your attention.
Keep Them Occupied
As you will know, with a new baby, you are going to be confined to the couch a fair bit for feeds, and your older child won’t understand why. Set up a special box of toys just for them and fill it with things they don’t normally play with. Think about including stickers, playdoh, new books, new games and other quiet toys, and get this out each time you feed.
Your child will love the novelty of all these new toys and they won’t feel jealous of the new baby eating up all your time. If they are a bit jealous, get one arm out and cuddle them into you as you feed. It’s important they feel just as loved and cared for, and you will love those snuggles too!
Finally, make sure you take it easy as a family. Take some time for this big adjustment and recognize it is a big change for everyone and you have to do what works for you as a family. Enjoy some special time bonding and you will find yourself settling into this new life as peacefully as possible.
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Felicity is mum to her two daughters, Cassandra (4) and Vivienne (2) and her son Elliot (3 months). Her passion is the parenting industry and creating a community where everyone feels welcome no matter how they choose to parent. It is this passion that led to the creation of The Baby Vine.