They say that having a second child is much easier than having a first. There are fewer fears of the unknown or doubts about how to take care of your baby. But along with this comes a new set of challenges. As a second-time parent, you can’t devote all of your time and energy to the most recent addition to the family.
While you are still recuperating after giving birth, coping with the housework, missing a lot of sleep, and settling your new baby into a routine, another child is desperate for your attention.
A little brother or sister may appear threatening to a young child. In their understanding, their parents had more time to help, comfort, or play with them. They come at the first cry of the baby. And now, all their attention is focused on that noisy little bundle. It is usual for toddlers to blame the “intruder” for this change in their routine.
It can also be expected that toddlers will appear to forget how to use a potty or feed themselves. Or they might even cry as much as the new baby. They will try to show you that they are still small and helpless. And they believe that that is the best way to get your attention.
It can be helpful if the dad can start putting in some extra time with the first child before the baby is born. The rest will fall into place once you can keep your first child happy. It is important to understand your firstborn’s reactions to your new baby.
Here are some more tips on how you can help your firstborn to adjust to the new baby:
Let your older child help pick out items for the new baby’s room. This is particularly important if your kids will share a bedroom.
Find a unique gift that your older child can give to the baby, such as a new book or toy or a sibling photo for the baby’s room. Consider picking out something for your older child, too. You also could have a small gift ready from the baby for your older child.
Arrange a particular time just for you and your older child. This might involve a trip to the library or simply reading a few extra stories at bedtime. Your partner, a family member, or a friend can help you by caring for the baby during these times.
Role-play or read stories that will help your child understand what’s happening in the family. There are books written just for toddlers about growing families.
Talk about what to expect when the baby comes home. Explain that a newborn cry sleeps, and needs a lot of diaper changes. Assure your older child that there will still be plenty of time and love for them, although the baby needs attention.
Reinforce your older child’s role in the family by saying that he or she will be the “big brother/sister” to the new baby, and help your child enjoy this new role.
Think of ways your child can be a part of the baby’s care. Your oldest might get a diaper or a burp cloth when you need it, help pick out the baby’s clothes for the day, or even dance around in front of the baby when your newborn is cranky.
The arrival of a new baby brings significant changes to the parents and especially to older kids, so you might want to hold off on introducing other things. This is probably not the best time to start toilet teaching, a transition from bottle to cup or enroll your child in a program that means separation from you for the first time. Consistency will help make your child’s adjustment easier.
Siblings play a unique role in a new baby’s life, so don’t leave your older child out of the decision-making. So much attention is given to a newborn, making it easy for older kids to feel overlooked. Reassure yours by encouraging their help in the preparations.
And though making sure that your toddler doesn’t feel rejected is essential, your need for peace and quiet is important. You should find the most straightforward way that works for you to also have restful moments.