By Rachel Hoeing and Megan Berlinger
Having your first child changes your entire world. You can’t even remember what it was like when there were was not a baby in the house. Then child number two comes along and your world gets rocked again! Not to mention, child #1 is in for a big adjustment as well.
Adding another child is simply beautiful, but there will be tough days as well. Below are some thoughts that include things that we did that seem to work as well as things a counselor recommended. Most are common sense, but they are great reminders, especially when you are in the thick of craziness!
1. Present child #1 with a gift from the new baby when they are born with note of thankfulness for their older sibling.
2. Share books with child #1 about being an older sibling
3. When people come to visit- grandparents and family- encourage them to go directly to child #1 first and devote some immediate attention. Even if it is just for five minutes, it will make a world of difference. Then ask child #1 to introduce the baby to them.
4. Mom and Dad can plan individual dates with child #2.
5. Family time… We did family movie nights. Obviously the baby just slept, but we were all together. Also family park dates are great.
6. Keep a bin in the fridge at child #1’s level where he can get a snack on his own when you are feeding or taking care of the new baby.
7. Before you sit down to feed the baby, run checklist with child #1 including food, bathroom, etc
8. Be prepared for regression. My oldest child regressed with potty training. We just went back to diapers and did not expect her to advance in any areas at this time.
9. If possible, take child #1 to an OB visit where he can hear heart beat and meet the doctor so he feels part of the whole experience.
10. Let child #1 pick out an outfit that he will wear to go meet his new sibling.
11. Let child #1 add one of his toys to your hospital bag or add a book that you can read to him in the hospital when he comes to visit.
12. Allow child #1 to choose whatever is possible throughout the day so that he can feel like he has control over his world. Sometimes with food, sometimes with outfits, etc.
13. Look at pictures and videos with child #1 from when he was a baby.
14. Call child #1 the same thing you have called him before. Example- I call my older daughter my sunshine and my younger daughter my sugarplum. If you call him little one or baby before pregnancy make sure to keep calling him the same nickname.
15. We gave my older daughter a doll that she took care of alongside me. She did not really care about dolls before this, but it made her so excited to have a “baby” of her own to take care of.
16. Create unity when you hang out with both kids. For example, when we prayed at breakfast I thanked God for my girls as a group and then thanked him specifically for each girl for specific things about each of them.
17. If child #1 shows interest, let him help you with things such as bathing or if you are bottle feeding.
18. Child #1 mostly wants attention and love. Tell him how much you love him. I was careful about this because I also wanted my daughter to continue to grow into a big girl. I don’t believe in babying kids too much. I tried to set expectations about how the day would go and what I needed from her. Then I praised her for helping me. I also reminded her about what big kids get to do that babies don’t.
19. If your children will be sharing a room you may want to tell him the parts of the room that are just his and that he doesn’t have to share. (Even if just a drawer or cubby.)
20. Listen to him. Ask him open ended questions. He will have emotions around it and will come out in funny ways sometimes.
21. Someone explained it to me as if my husband told me he loved me and loved me so much that he wanted to add another wife. This would be tough! Kids need to talk about it any have some explanations. We talked to our daughter about why we wanted another baby, the benefits of having a sibling and how fun it would be to do things together.
22. Be silly with child #1. Make up silly stories and dance it out.
23. When you can align schedules to have baby sleep when child #1 is eating or at bath time, that is helpful. My baby lived on me in Moby wrap or in the bouncy seat so I could spend time with child #1.
24. Follow your heart. You will know what to do by just loving your children!
25. No matter how crazy it feels right now, know it gets better.
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*Photo credit Heather McGinnis Photography