By Javier Olivo
You come home with your new bundle of joy. At your doorstep stands the older child, used to being the centre of your attention. You now face a dilemma.
But that’s about to change.
Bringing home a newborn the second time around proves to be quite challenging. A new sibling can impact the family in ways you might not have known before.
When you were bringing home your first baby, you were wholly committed to focusing your attention on your newborn. With the coming of a second child, you now have to figure out how your new baby might react to having an older sibling, or vice versa.
As a parent, it is essential to prepare your kids for the possibility of having a new sibling. You need to brace them for the changes they are bound to face and to reassure them of your continuous love and affection despite the addition of a new family member.
One should know how to encourage a healthy sibling bond, and in turn, make the adjustments more dynamic and proactive.
Discussing the baby’s homecoming before, during, and even after the pregnancy can make things easier for everyone. Done correctly, it will be a stepping stone for your toddler to learn the essential traits of patience, independence, and social interaction, to name a few.
During the pregnancy, slowly introduce your older child to the idea of having a younger sibling.
Have them ‘interact’ with your belly and ask them what they might want to say to their new baby brother or sister. Read baby books together and answer whatever questions they might have about the baby. Look through their baby photos as your bonding time. Show them how they were when they too were infants. Ask them for help in decorating the nursery.
Inclusion is vital. Take your child with you to your doctor’s appointments and have them watch the ultrasound and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Make your kid or kids, if you have more than one, a part of the process. This way, they won’t feel left out and replaced by their younger sibling.
The longer your child has gotten used to the fact of having a new sibling, the easier it gets.
Day of Reckoning
The day has come! After coming back from the hospital, one thing you can do is to ask your older kids to ‘help mummy out with her’ stuff. As I said earlier, involvement is necessary.
Here are more helpful tips to establish a good sibling-to-sibling bond among your kids.
Spreading the Love
Children are very jealous creatures, vying for mummy and daddy’s attention every second of the day. Especially with all the fuss centered around their new sibling, they can get envious and want the same attention for themselves.
When relatives coo over their new sibling saying, “She has the prettiest eyes!” reply by saying, “Just like her older brother.” Try to attribute some of the praise to them.
Spend time with each child equally. As impractical or unrealistic as it may seem, encourage your kids to share their time with each other. When feeding your little one, ask your eldest about their day, talk to them, ask them to join you for a chat.
It is also important to be a good listener. Allow your child to vent out whatever frustrations they might have towards their new sibling, or toward their newfound responsibility of being an older sibling.
One of the most shared and seamless ways to get your kids to adjust to each other is by co-sleeping, which means to sleep in the same bed or within the proximity of each other.
One of the most common co-sleeping arrangements is sharing the same bed or having two beds in the same room. You can have your infant sleep beside their older sibling in some sleepmaker mattresses. Or you can have the baby’s cradle in the same room with their siblings.
Co-sleeping can guide your kids to observe each other’s personal space. It will help them gain awareness of each other’s needs, and it will teach them how to interact with their sibling more naturally. For the mummy, it makes nighttime separation anxieties much less of a hassle!
One way to make your older children feel wanted is by giving them responsibilities. Acknowledge their talents and skills. You can say things like, “You’re so good at drawing, Jamie, maybe you could teach little Samantha how to draw when she get’s a little bit older.” Recognize their positive traits and encourage them to pass them over to their new sibling.
We all know for a fact that babies cry a lot. And sometimes we can’t even figure out why! Teach your kids why babies do the things they do. Explain to them that babies cry because they still don’t know how to talk yet. Act as their translator to help them understand better.
As Jim Butler put it, “There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or happier. Or more exasperated. Or more secure.”
Raising children is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences a parent has to go through. Every child will go through spats and quarrels with their siblings, but with a little nudge and lots of love and guidance, you can mold them to grow up as the best of friends.