“Are you expecting baby number 2? The process of being a second-time parent can be daunting. While the hand-me-downs help ease a lot of the parenting load, the emotional and physiological strain on being a second-time parent can take its toll especially when you have an older child under your care. If you are obsessing about introducing your older child to your new baby, please be assured that it is extremely normal to experience some sort of uncertainty and panic over how their first meeting could potentially go down. The truth is, not all children hate their new-born sibling on the first meeting (well, not yet anyway) but, not all children love them at first sight either. So how can you help in making this transition a more comfortable one for your firstborn? Here are some ideas.
1) 3’s company – Schedule some sonogram appointments to accommodate your older child’s schedule.
Helping your older child establish a relationship with a sibling should be done even before the baby is born and the darkened room at the doctor’s office is a perfect place for that budding bond. While your doctor performs the regular checks, spend a few quiet moments with your little trooper, in the intimacy of that dark room watching your happy camper (in-utero) on the video monitor. Even if a trip to the doctor’s is not possible, make it a point to share baby’s sonogram pictures with your older child and explain and show them the anatomy of their little sibling as it continues to grow within you. Showing your child how a sibling is developing and growing helps to create a healthy anticipation for the latest addition to the family.
2) Pick a time during the day for your firstborn to ‘bond’ with your growing tummy.
Set aside 15 minutes every day as part of your child’s bedtime routine. Have your child rub your tummy gently while talking to the baby – this does wonders for the bonding process. Then encourage him or her to sing some favourite nursery rhymes and wait to see if the baby kicks in response!
3) Create a Baby Movement Chart for your child to update daily.
If you are past your 28th week of pregnancy, then you are probably already starting to monitor and count the number of foetal movements daily. Keeping track of this important milestone can be fun. Break out the colourful markers, set up a white board station or simple paste a piece of mahjong paper on the wall and title it ‘baby’s daily movements’. Every time you feel a kick or a tumble, send your trooper to the board with the update!
4) Plan and design the nursery together!
Who better to give useful comments on how to spruce up the nursery for the upcoming baby, than a recent graduate of that same nursery? Involve your child in picking out the nursery’s colour and theme and dedicate a special part of the room for your firstborn child so they won’t feel left out of the process.
5) Gift a present to your older child ‘from’ his younger sibling.
Pick a gift for your firstborn before your due date. Wrap it up nice and attach a little note from ‘baby’ and then present it to him or her at the hospital once baby is born. This gesture of love would make the older sibling feel accepted and loved.
6) At the siblings’ first meeting – Direct your attention to your older child
Sharing the limelight after you have had centre stage for a long time is not something easy for your older child to relinquish. So, it is important to let someone else hold the baby while you receive your child upon their arrival at the hospital for the first meeting with baby – and don’t forget to smother your firstborn with smooches and cuddles!
7) Keep the routine going
Children find so much comfort and security in their daily routines and in knowing what comes next for them. As much as possible, maintain the same daily routine for your first born and ensure that there is little disruption as possible to his or her day after baby is born. This is so that your child doesn’t feel as if a lot of things needed to change to accommodate the new sibling.
8) Keep them involved!
Helping with diaper changes, fetching the pacifier, singing bedtime songs to baby or even holding baby (under your watchful eye) as much as possible, can encourage a healthy interaction and bond with a sibling –more so if these bonding opportunities are regular and consistent.
Whatever you choose to do to help your older child transition into this important phase in their life, just remember to sneak in some alone time with your first born away from baby, as much as you can – and pile on the hugs and kisses while you are at it!