Having baby no.2 & 3 was very different from baby no.1...
Having baby no.2 & 3 was very different from baby no.1. I remember, generally, I was much more relaxed about what to expect from pregnancy and newborn behaviour.
One thing that was completely different was knowing that I also had other young kids to look after. With my 2nd, I was sooo worried about how I would split my time between them and how my son would react to having another baby in the house. It’s also a common issue that’s been coming up with my clients more and more, they’re worried about how their other child will transition, questioning whether they’ll cope and how best to prepare.
If you’re expecting again or have had another baby join your family, here are a few things you can do:
Get your child involved
It’s important to get your older child involved from pregnancy. Tell them at a time that feels right for you (maybe when you start showing or before your first scan if they’re coming with you). When planning for your newborn, get your child to help with any preparations they can, such as picking out clothes, and choosing names.
After birth, let your older child help you with what you feel comfortable with, like nappy changing, bringing you clothes, wipes, etc. If they’re quite young, then you explain the importance of talking to baby and how it helps keep them to keep calm, so they feel they are helping.
Let them bond with baby before and after birth
Bonding with your unborn baby isn’t just for the parents but for siblings too. Give your child some time to touch your belly, feel their movements, talk and sing to them. This way they’ll feel a part of the pregnancy with you. After baby comes home, carry on giving your older child time to bond with baby when they want to – skin-to-skin can be done with siblings too.
Talk to them about having a sibling
Take whatever opportunity you can to speak to your older child about what it’ll be like to have a baby brother or sister. You can watch positive siblings on TV, YouTube videos, or read books about siblings. Also, if you go to someone’s house where there are young siblings there, you can talk to them about how it relates to your family. They may not be comfortable or happy at the beginning, which is OK, but talking to them regularly can help make it normal for them.
Be honest about what they'll expect from you after birth
A lot of parents speak to their child about what baby’s going to be like after birth, but they forget to tell them about mummy’s recovery period. They might expect you to jump back to normality without understanding that you need to rest, sleep and feed baby…A LOT. Prepare them for this so it’s not a shock by talking to them about what you’ll be like after birth and ways they can help.
Understand they may regress/throw tantrums
It’s absolutely normal for children to start throwing tantrums (again) and/or regress. There’s a lot of change happening in their lives and going from being the only ‘baby’ for however many years to suddenly sharing you, can be difficult for them. Accepting this and understanding them can go a long way to help you stay patient. Also, accept any help from partners, friends or family that you can get who will be able to give them that extra attention.
Give them your time
The last thing you want your child to feel is as if they’re being replaced…like Boss Baby. Even if it’s 10 minutes a day, ask someone to look after your new-born so you can give them 100% of your attention to them so they feel content that mummy is still there for them. If you’re a single-mum, this can be really tough and not always possible, so try to get them more involved with you and baby as much as you can and try to spend time with them when your baby is sleeping. (By the way, this can include watching their favourite TV show with them and doesn’t have to be arts and crafts!)
Be honest with them
Kids love honesty, and being open with them can really help. I know at times mums don’t want to tell their child that they’re tired or in pain, but being open and honest can help them bond with you, as well as teach them to be more understanding and empathic.
Delay any big changes until you're all settled
If you’re looking to move your child to their own room, or they’re due to be potty-trained and you’ve not been able to do it during pregnancy…first of all, don’t stress! Take the first few weeks for all of you to get used to your baby and start making big changes once you’re all settled and used to your new routine, which is around 8 weeks.