Your first pride and joy is a whirl wind, a bundle of love, changes your life in the most positive ways possible. So much so, that you decide to have baby number two! Uh oh! What will center of your world number one think? Will you feel differently yourself? Will life change once again?
Yes, life will change once again; it’s another experience that will take some getting used to, but you can handle it. You’re a mommy, after all.
But most importantly, the first pride and joy will be okay, too. More than okay. With definite potential to building a great, new relationship with their brand new sibling.
But what can you do to help baby number one get used to the new baby?
- Don’t yell – Often kids naturally get confused and jealous about all of the attention the new baby is getting. And they’ll show that by hitting, pushing, and even more extreme measures. The important thing is to try and not just simply yell at the first child and then call it quits. Sternly look into their eyes, and tell them that it is not okay to hit the new baby. Then gently show them how to kiss the baby, hug the baby, and ask them to apologize to the baby, if they can talk yet. If they do it again, then put them in time out, and sit with them in time out, and explain why they are in time out, and that their only way out is to go apologize to the baby and to kiss the baby.
- Praise – Praise your child when he or she shows affection towards baby number two. Clap, cheer, and offer your own affection towards both babies. This will help child number one to understand that they will get more positive attention by showing positive interest into baby number one.
- Teach them to help take care of them – make it a habit to explain to child number one how much you love them, and that they should love their baby sister or brother just as much by protecting them and taking care of them.
- Get them involved – When you change the new baby’s diaper, ask child number one to help mommy by getting the diaper or wipes. Even have them fold the flaps over, and have them help you sing little songs to keep the baby happy as the diaper change happens. You can even have them help you throw the diaper into the Genie. This will give them a huge sense of pride and drive to help take care of the baby more often rather than want the baby to not be around.
- Reach for them first – Baby number one doesn’t mind if they’re second to getting out of the car, or if you put them down to read baby number one a story. And infant also won’t know if they’re waiting for their feeding time because you’re taking care of your toddler in some way first. But if you do things in the opposite order, child number one might notice and get jealous. Take care of the older child’s needs first, and as baby number two gets older, explain to child number one that you need to take care of both babies in an equal importance scale.
- Keep ’em busy as your breastfeed – If you are done breastfeeding baby number one and are breastfeeding baby number two, get child number one a sippy cup of milk or juice, and have them sit next to you as you put your arm around them while you are feeding the new baby. This will keep baby number one involved, and less prone to feeling left out. You can also talk to them about what you are doing, and encourage them to talk to the new baby in order to keep the baby focused while you are breastfeeding rather than the baby falling asleep. And remember, praise, praise, praise.
- Use them as a tool – The best thing about having older siblings to your new baby? They can help you! Make them feel important by telling them to help mommy and talk to the new baby while you try to cook, or have them get baby number two a towel while you give the baby a bath. Little things like that will mean the world to them.
- Share, share, share – Instill the sharing since the getgo. My Toddler Boy was terrible at sharing when Baby Girl was first born, and even has his moments of throwing a tantrum because she’s taking something of his. But when that happens, all I have to say to him is, “Hey, can you share with her, please?” And he just goes, “Ok!” And forks over whatever it is she wants. That’s because we have continuously praised him for sharing, and shown our disappointment when he is reluctant to share. He used to also refuse to share with myself and my husband, but we’ve never stood for it, so now he’s very open to sharing with us as well!
I actually used these techniques myself when I had the new baby, and for the most part, my toddler loves baby girl. Sometimes he does get jealous because I take the new baby to work only, when I used to take Toddler Boy to work before Baby Girl was born. But I try to keep him involved by having him help me shut the door behind us as we leave for work, or help me carry a bag to the car…and as soon as I get home, I hand Baby Girl to daddy, and reach for my Toddler Boy as soon as I can, showering him with kisses and telling him how much I missed him. Also any day possible that I think I can handle both kids at work with me, I take it. And we try to have fun things planned for Toddler Boy when I”m at work. So if he gets upset when I am leaving for work, I’ll remind him, “Hey! Grandma is coming to get you and take you to the park!” And that wipes any tears away instantly. And on my days off, I try to diminish the amount of time I spend cleaning or doing other chores, and save that stuff for when the kids go to bed. That way, I can spend my day doing fun things that refresh him like going to the zoo, or the pool, or on a trip to visit friends.
Today we were at the playground, and my Baby Girl caught a little boy’s attention. My Toddler Boy noticed and stood proudly next to my Baby Girl and hugged her, and said “This is my sister! I big! I brother,” with a huge smile on his face. So even though he has moments when maybe he just wants to bop his sister on the head because she keeps taking his toys, the majority of the time, he loves having her around.