How Parents Can Prep For Baby Number 2 (or 3, 4…)
Prep for Baby #2? .. I was nervous when I brought home my second son. Dylan was 21 months old and he’d been the center of our universe. He had gotten all the attention and praise. How, I wondered, would he react when we brought home the competition?
He was actually awesome about it. He loved and cherished his baby brother from the moment he met him. But there are some things we did before and during those first few weeks that I think helped make that transition a success.
Before baby arrives
• Talk to your child about the new baby well before your due date. We waited until late in the second trimester to tell Dylan about his little brother so he wouldn’t wonder what was taking so long. But once we told him, we continued to discuss the baby and to include him in our excitement.
• Consider involving your older child in your preparations. We invited Dylan to help design the baby’s nursery. That big brother or big sister to-be will feel that it is a special place for him or her as well.
• We called the new baby, his baby. We wanted Dylan to feel a strong bond to his little brother. We also encouraged his fraternal instincts to help him feel involved in the baby’s care when he came home.
• Spend as much quality time as possible with your toddler before your newborn takes up residence. Once the baby arrives, your attention will inevitably shift to the newest member of your family. We made a special effort to spend quiet, uninterrupted time with Dylan; time each day undisturbed by the baby.
• Look through those old baby pictures with your older child. It’s a great reminder that he or she was once a baby too.
• Express excitement when your older child visits the hospital after the birth. The undivided attention we showed Dylan, even if only for a minute helped set the stage for the next few months.
• When friends and family stop by with presents for your newborn, ask them to bring pictures and books. That way your older child won’t feel left out.
• Welcome your son or daughter’s help. We asked Dylan to grab diapers and wipes or a new onesie whenever we could. This involvement strengthens the sibling bond and helps a big brother or sister feel valued.
• Prompt your older child to make choices. We offered Dylan the chance to select outfits, socks and hats for the baby. Monitored control over even the smallest decisions helped him to feel important and needed.
• Involve your older child in feeding the baby. When it was time to breastfeed, I did not hide from Dylan, but chose instead to nurse in the family room with my older son playing nearby.
• Talk about divided time with your older child. For example, I would tell Dylan: “I’m having special time with you now, when the baby is sleeping or with daddy or with grandma…”. Then when you have to take private time with the baby, your older one will understand the concept.
• Be enthusiastic when you see your older child. Greet him or her with a huge hug and a smile.
• Talk to your toddler about their day and their feelings. They may have more insight into the new baby than you know.
• Sometimes, put your toddler first. That dirty diaper can usually wait a few minutes if your toddler wants to talk or needs your help.
• Remind your toddler of fun times you had before the baby. My older son and I still talk about going to the zoo the week before I delivered. Two years later, he still remembers the monkeys.
• And remember that this precious time will fly by. So try to savor every delicious second. Soon you’ll have two toddlers!
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.