Congratulations Mama you have decided to have another baby or you are preparing for the pitter patter of little feet for the second time. From the early stages of pregnancy to baby’s arrival and beyond, there are things you can do to prepare and help your child(ren) to adjust to life with a new sibling. Most importantly, remember that you know what you’re doing, and what to expect. You’ve done it before! Be confident and gentle with yourself.
From two Mamas with seven children between us, here are our top tips to ease the transition.
THERE IS A BABY IN MAMA’S TUMMY
• Read lots of books about being a big brother/sister
• Tell to your children there is a baby in Mummy’s tummy (9 months is a long time for child but you don’t want them to hear from someone else). As your tummy grows, they will bond with the baby before it arrives.
• Talk to your baby - and ask your children to too!
• What do you need to buy? A double pram provides an easy transition for your toddler, and a skateboard is fun!
• Let others spend time with your child before baby comes, so your child can be settled, fed etc. without mum
• It is normal to feel torn or guilty. With each child you grow another heart. You’re going to love this baby just as much
• Make any changes that will impact your child a month or more before baby arrives. Don’t let your baby replace your child in the cot (move to a different cot or bed etc). Same with the carseat, high chair and pram.
• Check that any preloved items from baby number one which you plan on using with baby number two are still safe and up to the Australian SIDS standards. (Particularly if there is a long gap between babies)
INTRODUCING TODDLER TO YOUR BABY
• Introduce baby and child when you’re ready. Drips etc. can be scary for children. You want to put on a brave face.
• Don’t be holding baby when your toddler comes in. If you can, go out and meet your toddler first (your baby can be in your room with your partner or in bassinet) and go to meet the baby together
• Don’t be offended if your toddler doesn’t want to cuddle you or doesn’t have much interest in the baby (but also be prepared for your baby to want to man handle the baby)
• If you’ve had a c-section be careful kids don’t jump on you
• Children thrive on routine. When in hospital try to keep your child’s routine going (brief family members/careers).
BRINGING BABY HOME
• Rest as much as you can in hospital. You will need your energy when you come out!
• Talk about those things that you can have/do as a big kid which the baby can’t do (chino etc)
• Be aware of germs especially before baby is immunised. Children bring germs home. Handwashing is essential
• At 6 weeks a child realises baby isn’t leaving. It’s normal for a toddler to regress and want to be treated like a baby
• When you can, put the new baby in the cot so you can cuddle/carry the big one
• Give yourself time to adjust
• Organise support people to help with bath time etc (restrictions allowing)
• Prepare toddler snacks the evening before so they are easy to get when you need them
• Make dinner when baby is asleep and let your toddler help you
• Keep toddler’s sleep as long as you can! Our Sleep Expert Richelle Franklin says until 3. Steiner Educators says until school
• Time sleeps so they cross over and you can sleep too
• Get out in the morning so toddler can burn some energy, while baby sleeps in the pram