Congratulations Mam and Dad, you are about to have the second angelic addition to the family. You’re excited and happy but there are also bouts of moments when you are fearful about the reaction of the toddler who thinks, and was until some time ago, the center of your little world.
You are uncomfortable at the idea of how to explain to your 1st child that they are about to have a competitor who is going to take over your affection and time. This is what the toddler is going to think even when this is not reality to you. Your first born will always maintain that special connection and bond that you have, but they won’t see it that way for a few months or years. And this is something you need to get rid of before it even begins to develop.
Consider it from the point of view of your child. They feel like the new baby is stealing away all the love and attention that as there’s since the time they came into the world. Imagine the betrayal and hurt they experience because they don’t understand that just because you can’t give every second of your time to them, they don’t become any less important or special. In most cases some toddlers accept the new arrival for a while with pleasure and genuine interest, but after a while it gets too much and they again want to be the sole recipient of your love. This is why some of them regress to old ways where they want to be breast fed again or want to sleep with you or even start wetting the bed.
It is here that you need to become extra conscious of not the new baby, but the first one and assure them of how the baby is just as much connected to the toddler as to you. Do not become overprotective of the new baby to the point where their toddler feels distanced. Give them a chance to show affection and play with the new arrival. You will be surprised by how readily they are willing to take responsibility of the new comer when you continue to praise and support them. So how is it that you can prepare the first child for the second one? Here are some things that you can try successfully.
Inform Them from the Start
The very first thing that you should do is start mentally preparing the first child from the time you become pregnant. Talk to them about how they will have a new brother or sister and they can help you take care of the baby. Older children are genetically manufactured to help with the younger children and are more open to new things. Also keep in mind that children can be very perceptive especially when it comes to their mothers, which means that they are bound to notice your changing figure and belly size.
Once you are in your late second or third trimester, start telling them about the new baby. Get their help in the preparations and keep them as involved as possible. You can ask them about names and nicknames too. This will instill in them a certain sense of excitement and eagerness for the arrival of the second baby. Let them help you out in setting the nursery and pick out clothes and other useful stuff.
The Actual Birth and Following Days
Be sure to explain to the toddler how you will go away for two days just a week before the delivery time. You don’t want them to become scared and aggressive because you suddenly disappear and don’t come back for two day or more! The child can either stay with grandparents or any other close relation they have stayed with before. Make it into a sort of vacation so that they do not become resentful of your going away with daddy to bring the new baby home. You want to make sure that the older child is as cooperative as possible when you come back with the baby.
Once the baby is home and the toddler is with them, do not become too overprotective of the new baby. Instead make the toddler sit and hand the little one over to them. Of course the little baby should be completely secure and you must never leave them alone for even a minute. But let your toddler see that you trust them with the little one. This is going to go a long way in helping to develop a bond between the two children.
Make sure you involve the child in helping you out with work for the new baby. They could bring you stuff from the other room or the dresser, could help you read a bed time story or sing a lullaby or even give the milk bottle under your or your spouse’s supervision.
Things may change at any point. Your toddler will suddenly realize that they are becoming secondary or being left to do stuff on their own. This is not going to be taken with delight. Do not be upset when this stage comes. It is temporary but you will need to handle it with care. Continue to talk to your older child. Spend as much time with them as you can. Make sure you give them special treats and some extra time. Ask your spouse to pay special attention to them as well. This way the aggression would disappear sooner than you can hope for.
Involvement of Loved Ones
One more thing that you should talk about with your spouse is the affection and attention of other loved ones in your life, like grandparents, friends, other family member etc. When they come over to visit make sure they first fuss over the toddler. Give them a small packet of sweets or some gift so that they don’t feel left out of the attention being lavished on the new baby. Adults are automatically attracted to the little one but make sure you remind them of how they should not ignore your first born. This will create fewer problems for you as the toddler will not experience any pangs of jealousy.
Your toddlers need to be reminded by you and everyone else that they are just as special as the new baby. This way there won’t develop any rivalry and you will have a less difficult time taking care of both the children in your life.