Having a second baby may seem a bit less challenging for parents when it comes to knowing how to handle a newborn. After all, they have been through all this before, so no problem, actually there is a new problem that will need to be addressed, the firstborn child.
Up to this point, they have been the only child and had their parent’s undivided attention, and now there is a new sibling on the horizon. So, how do you go about preparing your first child for a new baby? Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that the age of the first child will be a factor.
The younger they are, the harder it may be. A young child may not understand why suddenly, mommy is spending time with the baby instead of them. That’s not to say older kids don’t have adjustments as well, and may also feel left out, so it is important to know how to go about preparing for the new family addition.
Here are some tips to help make the transition run smoothly, not only for the child but for you as well.
Tell Your Child before Telling Other People
The only person who should be told before the child is your spouse. They could help you tell the child about the new addition. If the child is older, usually school age, they tend to grasp what is about to happen, and the baby will be a brand new member.
But younger kids may have a hard time understanding what is happening; there are ways of helping them to understand. Use storybooks that are age-appropriate for the child that explains about having a new sibling. When you start to have, ultrasounds share these with the child, showing them their new baby brother or sister.
Explain that the baby will be small but will be a challenge for the whole family and be changing the function of the house. The baby will cry and will need plenty of attention.
The main thing to remember, regardless of age, is always making the child feel included. Older kids can help plan the nursery, learn to hold the baby, perhaps even learn to change the baby. Younger kids can be included by maybe helping with the baby’s name and maybe even be encouraged to draw some pictures for the nursery. It is important not only to include them but to tell them before other family members or friends.
Start to Change Routine Before New Baby Comes
Remember, a new baby will change the structured pattern of the household. So, if possible, start changing things up ahead of time. Maybe change a child’s bedtime beforehand. Take the time to know what your limitations will be the further you get into the pregnancy.
The fact that this is your second child will help to determine this unless there is an unforeseen issue that could come up. In any case, start to limit your activities with the older child gradually. Such as getting on the floor to play with blocks, but for every activity removed to create a new activity for them to enjoy with you, that is about the two of you, not the baby.
Either way, the new baby will be an adjustment, so best start easing the child into this in a slow way, not all at once.
Try to Defuse Jealousy When the Baby Comes Home
Keep in mind jealousy in kids over a new sibling will be different because kids are different. But unfortunately, jealousy could very well be part of the adjustment to the new addition. It can start as soon as the child knows the baby is on the way.
Older children can be quite verbal about their displeasure in the new child coming. Younger kids tend to start acting up, becoming defiant, and throwing tantrums. How do you deal with this? Well, one of the best ways to handle this is always to try to create one on one time for you and your older child.
If the baby is becoming too demanding, your spouse can help out to assure that the child feels as if they are still getting attention, even if it’s just to take time to play a game with the younger child or go over their school work with the older child.
Make Sure Others Include the Older Child
Part of having a new baby is family, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles coming over to see the baby. There will also be friends and co-workers before they do so, let them know always to try to include the firstborn in their visit. If its the grandparents bringing a gift, make sure one is brought for the older child as well.
If they come over to makeover the new baby, be assured they will also take the time to include the firstborn by asking them about school or playing a game with them. Just make sure the child doesn’t feel left out. This leads to jealousy and tantrums, so always make sure they are included.
Make Sure the Child Handles the Baby with Care
Younger kids may view the child as a doll. Older children may not know how to handle them properly. So, another challenge is to help the child to understand how fragile a newborn is. One way to do this is to lead by example, show them how you handle the baby.
Ironically a doll can be used before the baby being born to teach a child about how to handle properly and dealt with the right way. Another issue could be if the child is born with health issues or special needs. This will lead to further challenges for the parents and the firstborn child.
Having a second child can be a blessed event. But whatever a parent does, it is important not to overlook the firstborn. They will be a part of the process as well and need to feel they are included along with still a viable member of the family unit. Yes, you love all your kids the same way, but every time a new sibling is brought into the picture, it will change the overall structure of the family unit.