Oh Yeah, Your Son is Cute, too

Sunday, September 22, 2013

By Rachel Hoeing

When baby number two comes along, everyone’s world changes. Obviously mom and dad have a huge adjustment, but what about baby number one? No matter how old this child may be, it is still somewhat of a slap in the face that there is this new crying ball of dirty diapers in the house.

Someone once told me to imagine your husband sitting down with you one day and saying, “Honey I love you very much, but I have decided to bring one more wife into the house. I will still love you, but I will love this new wife, too. Both of you will now have to share everything and I won’t get to spend as much time with you because I will have to help take care of her.”

Unless you are a polygamist, this probably sounds terrible. (And if you are a polygamist – email me! That would be a pretty good guest blog!) Back to the story … child number one is wondering what the heck happened to the quiet house that revolved around him. The good news is that after a few months, the first child probably will not remember that there was ever a life without brother or sister.

During this time of the new baby, it is important to make child number one feel special. Most of the time you will probably catch yourself yelling at him to stay away from the baby or not be so rough. You will find yourself frustrated when you are trying to take care of the new baby and your older child just won’t give you any space.

In order to make child number one feel a little better, many times, what I would do is reprimand the baby! If my son and I were playing a game or trying to spend time together, I would wait until the new baby started to cry and I would say, “Anna, can’t you see that your brother and I are trying to spend some time together? You must stop crying and let us play!” That seemed to make my son feel incredible!

Another thing that is tough for the older child is being out in public. I remember many times when strangers would walk by and compliment my newborn. “OH my, isn’t she adorable! Look at that smile! She is just gorgeous!” Most of the time they would entertain my newborn for a moment and then carry on without even a glance in my son’s direction. He just stood there staring blankly thinking, “What about me?” Once in a while, they would take a moment to look at my son and acknowledge that he is a big brother. I would call that the “Oh yeah, your son is cute, too” moment. Little does the older child know, but he got just as many praises when he was little. But now, all he knows is that this baby is getting WAY too much attention and he does not like it.

One day we were out to eat and I remember sitting at the booth with my husband, two-year-old son, and our newborn baby. A lady probably in her mid-sixties walked by and stopped dead in her tracks. She looked at my son, Jake, and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! Isn’t he the most handsome thing you have ever seen? And look how nicely he is sitting at that booth! Mom and dad you must be so proud of him!”

We thanked the woman, she congratulated us on our baby, and continued on. Jake was just beaming for the rest of the meal. A little while later I went to the restroom and passed the woman who had complimented Jake. She stopped me and said, “I remember when I had my second child. Everyone doted on her and my older child always felt so left out and unappreciated. So now every time I see a child with a new brother or sister I make sure to praise that older child as much as possible.”

I honestly get teary-eyed just thinking about this moment! What a wonderful thing to do! I hope you all will remember this story and put it to use one day. Whether the oldest sibling has lived with one, two, or three new babies in the house, it is always an adjustment and can sometimes be a blow to their self-esteem.

Have you dealt with this situation when bringing a new baby into the home? Do you have suggestions or tips for others? Please share!
Anonymous commented on 10-Nov-2011 08:39 AM
That was one smart lady in that restaurant. I hope she had lots of lucky grandkids! I think it is harder on the older one, but the rewards for the older one are great, too, even if they aren't aware of it at the time. I know so many only children who,
while they had terrific childhoods, longed for a sibling to share things with. The grass is always greener I guess. The younger one feels like the older one gets everything first, and the older one feels like the younger one gets away with everything.
Rae commented on 10-Nov-2011 08:59 AM
This is so true! We just had our second baby -- a girl -- and our son's world was rocked! Luckily, we had good friends who make sure to include him (big brother gifts) and give him the extra attention he needed through the transition. I also tried to make
sure that he got one-on-one time with each parent so that he felt "heard," loved and appreciated. He probably still wishes he was our only, but some day he will be glad she is in his world!
Katie commented on 10-Nov-2011 09:28 AM
A good friend of mine who has four kids (all older than mine) always told me to use "new baby nap and sleep time" for play time with child number one. I remember always wanting to use that time to get laundry and other things done, but it's so true about
giving your undivided attention to your first born during these first months and first year. To this day, my first born thinks any one-on-one time with Mommy and Daddy is so awesome. My second child, not so much!
Amy commented on 10-Nov-2011 12:54 PM
You crack me up. Loved the part about the polygamists! This is great advice and I love the idea about reprimanding the baby. I felt like I was ALWAYS yelling at my older daughter for something.
Holly commented on 10-Nov-2011 02:23 PM
Enjoyed this post! I have an almost 3-yr-old with one on the way. I'm wondering how she will adjust to a new baby. Thanks for the tips on how to make sure she still feels special at home and out in public!
Wendy G commented on 10-Nov-2011 04:29 PM
Oh I love that woman in the restaurant! That is a great point to remember!
Jennifer Howell commented on 13-Nov-2011 09:25 PM
Great article. My mom always says that my son would have been the perfect only child. His world got a little rocked when our second one came along, but they are the best playmates (most of the time) now.
Jennifer commented on 14-Nov-2011 08:58 AM
That is too funny you thought to "reprimand" the baby. :) And I love that the lady made a point to compliment the older child. I recently caught myself gushing about a baby and not complimenting the older kid, so I am working on changing that.
Dani commented on 22-Sep-2013 02:16 PM
We just had #3 and each of our older children has adjusted very well. We put step stools EVERYWHERE so that they could help out and it was about THEM helping, not the "changing of the baby" or "bathing the baby." We read a lot of books before and during the first months about the benefits of being an older siblings. Older kids can eat pizza, and play at the park, and ride bikes, but babies cannot. When I was nursing, I always used that time to talk to the older ones or have them "read" to me, or put on a dance. I knew that I had my bonding time with the baby at other points during the day. Things have been smooth sailing and I hope that others have similar experiences when bringing a newborn home!

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