Preparing for new siblings

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Ian Munro offers some advice on dealing with the arrival of a second child.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro
When we were first married, we had a cat. It was beautifully natured - until our first-born arrived.

One morning, while the baby was being breastfed, she leapt on to the bed and took to our daughter with teeth and claws. What happened next wasn’t pretty, but that’s another story.

The impact of the arrival of a second child can be traumatic. Suddenly feeling like they’re playing second fiddle to an intruder can be the first major upset that a 2 or 3-year-old experiences. Many will take it in their stride, some will show signs of uncertainty, some can be downright hostile, while others might show some regression in behaviour.

Involving the youngster with discussion about "our baby" and what it will be like to have a brother or sister to grow up with can help immensely. Allow them to lead with their questions. Making statements out of the blue, for example that you’ll still love them when baby comes, might get them worried about things that they hadn’t thought about.

There are plenty of good books that show the developing baby. There’s the first kick to be felt and household preparations they can help with, like setting up the room, putting clothing in drawers and toys on a shelf. Arrange things so they can fetch items such as nappies for you and thank them on behalf of the baby for doing so.

When out shopping, involve them in choosing clothing and buy something for them as well. Let them choose a present for the baby and, on the quiet, buy a present for them from the baby for when he/she arrives home.

Maybe it’s the time to buy them a "big kid’s bed" if they don’t already have one.

Once the baby has arrived:

• Allow them to hold and play with the baby.

• Don’t always rush away to the baby but ask the baby to wait a minute while you finish whatever it is you’re doing with them. This lets them know they’re still important.

• Allow them to tell visitors some things about the baby rather than you doing all the talking.

•Breastfeeding time can be a good time to read a story and the baby benefits from hearing your voice, too.

• They might like their own baby to bath and dress alongside you.

• Talk about how special it is for the family to have two children and how Grandma and Grandpa are lucky to now have two grandchildren.

• Encourage family members to remember them when they visit. It’s so easy to focus on the new arrival. Allow time for them to maintain their relationship with your first born.

• And do the same yourself. You’ll be feeling extra tired but try to continue doing the things you always did with your eldest.


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