02 Dec Getting Your First Baby Ready for Baby #2
Making the decision to grow your family is not always an easy one, or even perfectly timed event! Here are some common questions that many parents ask:
How Do I Tell the Baby “Where the Baby Comes From”?
Talk to your child as you always do, in an age-appropriate manner. As adults, we often want clear, concise answers, and children don’t always think that way. One answer for a toddler-aged sibling may be as simple as, “It was time to give you a brother/sister. Would you like to go play outside with me?” Often toddlers want “an answer,” even if it’s one that didn’t actually answer their specific question. Distraction and moving on to another conversation may help.
What If They Ask, “How Does the Baby Come Out of Your Belly?”
Simple non-answers such as, “The doctor will help me,” is one way of handling difficult questions. Your child is not looking for the answer that an adult wants. Again, think about answering in simple, age-appropriate answers and moving the conversation in a different direction.
Often parents are worried about how to handle two children in diapers, or juggling a toddler and baby at the same time. As much as toddlers often want to be a big kid and independent, they can be overwhelmed easily and may not be ready for the things that we wish they could do, such as tying their own shoes or progressing in potty training. Try to help your child be independent with tasks that are helpful for you as a parent holding a newborn, while still having reasonable expectations for your child. Examples can include having some “easy” everyday shoes that have Velcro instead of shoelaces to help your child get ready and out the door. You can also teach your child to put on a jacket themselves, which can make them feel independent and decrease your stress level.
As any toddler becomes more independent, sometimes they regress as it can be stressful. Helpful phrases may include, “It’s fun to pretend you’re a baby huh? But, you know, I’ll love my big kid, too.” And praise big-kid actions with something like, “Wow! Did you button that up all by yourself? I’m so impressed!”
How Can My Baby /Toddler Interact and Be Safe?
Siblings like to touch, hug, kiss, and hold each other. Encourage it. But be aware that if your toddler has a cold, maybe she can kiss her baby brother’s feet, but not his face. Teach them that, “It’s not safe to feed the newborn baby your crackers, but sharing is so nice, so let’s share the board book instead!”
Be prepared yourself. Expect regression. Expect your two-year-old to grab the baby’s bottle or pacifier. Prepare yourself for your toddler showing regression and wanting to be “your baby” again.
Encouraging them to be the big kid can go a long way. Buying big-kid books, a toddler bed, or even new toddler cups and toddler plates can help your little one feel grown up and happy to no longer be “the baby.”
Babyproofing Your Home… Again…
Keeping your home and different rooms safe can be tricky for parents. The little LEGOs or Polly Pockets that your four-year-old loves are not appropriate for the baby that may inadvertently grab a toy. Think about having a “big kid toy area” where the baby can’t go, either in a separate room or blocked with gates. Many older siblings feel jealous at having restriction because of their new sibling; instead, give them the upper hand. “You are the big kid so you can play with this, but the baby is too little, so you can tell her no.” Giving the older sibling some control can help them acclimated to the new family member.
As your first child has gotten older, you may have removed drawer locks, outlet protection, and other safety devices. Look in all your rooms, sit on the floor, and see what safety measures may have to be reinstated. We easily take for granted how quickly a child has grown up.
If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your children, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817‑617‑8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.