As long as your first child is the only child, things are easy. They are the centre of your universe and you are theirs. This is why things get particularly tricky when the second baby comes along. The first child is used to having the complete care and attention of the family, and with the imminent arrival of a second one, they might take some time adjusting. You may want to make sure that your kids bond well early on, as sibling dynamics end up becoming a lifelong thing.
In this post, we will give you an age by age guide to how parents can introduce and familiarise the first child with the second new-born child.
At two years old, the child is still dependent on you for most things and is immensely attached to you. When your new-born arrives, there is a chance that your first child might feel confused about the sudden division of attention. You can take advantage of the fact that your 2-year-old still doesn’t have a worldly understanding of things, and do some play-acting. Give them a toy to care for themselves.
One of the first things they will take some time to adjust to is your reduced attention to their needs. You can address this by having your partner take care of them while you’re busy with the baby. But you will have to begin this process itself. Ask your partner or other family members and loved ones to keep the first child occupied while you’re busy caring for the baby.
Keep a few gifts handy, so that when friends or family visit bearing gifts for the new-born, you can give these stored gifts to your older child and avoid them feeling left out.
At this age, the child is still attached to you, and having spent all their life as the centre of your love and attention, they don’t grasp the concept of sharing you with someone else.
Familiarise and sensitise your older child to the new-born. Let them spend time with the baby. Also explain to them how gentle they need to be with the baby. Take them out to buy toys for the baby, and have them gift it to the new-born, so that they understand that giving is as important as taking. Concentrate on sharing rather than dividing things as personal properties.
Out of nowhere, the first child may start demanding for a milk bottle, a diaper, etc. but that is only their way of grabbing your attention. Make conscious efforts to spend time with your first child. For example - watch TV with them or let them cuddle next to you while you breastfeed the new-born.
This is a great opportunity for the fathers to spend more time with the first child, while you look after the second one. It will also result in the first child relying less on you.
Kids at this age have developed a good level of understanding, and it should not be too difficult to get them used to the second child. They have heard from their friends about siblings, and even learnt a little bit at school. For most part, school going kids will be excited and understanding with the arrival of the second child. In fact, they’ll even be proactive with their sibling duties.
Despite this, you need to make sure there doesn’t arise a situation where the child feels alone and insecure. Every day, spare an hour with your first child and listen to their stories from school, ask them about their day, their friends, and talk to them about the baby. Read stories with them, look through picture books or even help them do their homework a little bit. This will letthem know that no matter what, you are there for them. Thus, avoiding any kind of unpleasant emotions.
Also, ensure that they know that theyare the elder of the two and is thus responsible for the new-born as much as you and your partner are.
Have any more tips? Do let us know in the comments below.