As regular readers of my blog will know, we recently had a second child so life lately has been busy and we’ve had to make a few little adjustments to what we were previously doing. Life with two can be a little bit crazy but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
There is a 2 and 1/4 year gap between our son and our daughter. During my second pregnancy I hadn’t really thought about how our son might react to a baby. People would ask me all the time, when they found out I already had one child, was ‘is he really excited about the baby’? In a word, no. He wasn’t even two when I became pregnant so didn’t really understand what was going on. As things went on in the pregnancy, we’d tell him there was a baby coming, explained about my big belly and he needed to be gentle, told him he would have a sister when we found out it was a girl, but again not really fussed.
When baby girl arrived, still not fussed by her. He would hold her hand for all of a few seconds, give her a kiss on the cheek if we asked him to and then he’d just wander off. When we brought her home he would think she was funny when he saw me breastfeeding her and he’d help to get nappies and help wind her but again, wasn’t overly bothered by her being there.
I thought this was such a huge relief. I’d heard horror stories from other mums whose older children had tried sitting on their new sibling, covering the new baby’s face in cushions or blankets so thought it was great that Max was basically the opposite of that.
So what can you do to prepare your ‘baby’ for a new baby?
~ We got given a book for Max called ‘I’m a new big brother’ which we read to him a lot. He would talk us through what was going on in the pictures in the book and things he would need to do to help with the baby and so on. It’s a great idea to get something like that to prepare them.
~ Try not to be holding the baby when your older child sees the baby for the first time. Introduce them properly to each other and perhaps have them hold hands. Depends on the age of the child as older children will be able to hold the baby properly.
~ Get a gift ‘from the baby’ to give to your older child. I remember when I was 7, my youngest sister was born. I vividly remember still, going to the hospital and meeting her and my mum and dad gave us a card each with some money in, that was from the baby. A simple thing but will definitely help. I have some fab friends too and when they came to visit the baby or at my baby shower, they gave a little something for Max to open too. Works brilliantly.
~ Praise what the older child is doing well. If grandparents are coming round to visit, mention how helpful they’ve been. So there is no resentment between child and baby they need to feel included and that all these visitors want to see them too, not just the baby.
~ To start with, there will be a lot more ‘staying in’ than the child will have previously experienced, especially if like me you have a C-section and can’t drive straight away. You will want to get use to feeding and will be tired so it’s totally ok. Prepare a box or things that they can do during feeding time so they’re not just wondering what to do. Even having a snack ready before hand is useful – I found Max would always be suddenly hungry or thirsty as soon as I sat down to feed Chloe.
It’s a busy time and it’s not easy but make sure you get help if you need it. Getting a few play dates round or grandparents to play with your older child for a bit will mean they have lots of fun and feel special.
Good luck mammas!