Are you about to add the pitter patter of two new feet to your family or maybe considering it? The thought for some, while exciting, can also be a little overwhelming. Put your worries to rest. Your fellow Nook moms have compiled a list of helpful advice, tips and tricks to make bringing home baby #2 (3, 4 or 5, etc.) a breeze.
There’s only so much preparing for new baby you can do before the baby actually gets here. You’re likely getting unsolicited (or solicited) advice from friends and family who’ve walked down this same road before. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to make it go perfectly, but there are a few key things we think might help ease the transition.
Establish the “Our Baby” Mentality
When bringing home a new addition to the family, a common fear that most parents share is that their older child(ren) will feel replaced. To avoid that feeling of isolation or animosity, really involve the baby’s siblings in the preparation for bringing home baby:
- Include the older sibling(s) in:
- Preparing your hospital bag
- Making frozen meals for after baby’s arrival
- Picking out a present or newborn clothes for baby
- Getting the baby’s room ready
- Helping pick out the baby’s name
- Depending on the age, you can even take them with you to prenatal visits so they can hear the baby’s heartbeat or see the baby on the ultrasound.
- Encourage your older kid(s) to read/sing/talk to the baby in your belly.
- Be open and honest about what’s going to happen. Kids pick up on a lot more than we know. Tell them that mommy will be feeding the baby a lot or sleeping more or carrying the baby a lot, just like she did with them.
- Practice safe baby-holding with stuffed animals or dolls
- Show them where the important baby stuff is like diapers, wipes, burp cloths, etc. so they can feel helpful once baby arrives by bringing these things to you when your hands are full.
- Prepare them for their temporary caretaker while you and your partner are away delivering the baby. Tell them what’s going to happen when it’s time for the baby to arrive.
- Find some books about new siblings and read them to your kid(s) and let them ask questions.
Let Go of the Mommy Guilt
If there’s one thing that’s true, with the arrival of a new baby comes the weighed down feeling of worry. How will this baby impact the one-on-one time with my first? Will my older child(ren) have resentment towards this baby? How will I get it all done? Is it even humanly possible to love another little one as much as I love my first born? Guess what? This is totally normal. Mommy guilt is real and it’s powerful. Of course we don’t want any of our littles to get the short end of the stick but it's also important to know and ACCEPT that change is coming. And realistically, for a while, you may not be operating at your pre-baby efficiency level. Don’t fight it, embrace it.
- Rather than stress about dinner with all the main food groups, change it up with breakfast for dinner or a picnic in the living room. This might become a family tradition.
- Sleep-deprived and on your own with the kids? Allow them to watch a couple extra episodes of Paw Patrol while you take a breather.
- Embrace and welcome the help others want to give. Whether it's prepared dinners from friends or offers to take your older kids for the night, be thankful for the acts of kindness.
- Remember, this window of time is fleeting. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Laundry will always be there. Your newborn and her sibling(s) will not.
Don’t Blame the Baby
Introducing your new baby to his/her siblings isn’t easy, but once the baby has been accepted, it’s important to do your best not to blame the baby for not having time for your other kid(s). It’s easy to say you can’t do something right now because you have to do x, y, z for the baby, but then your other child(ren) may grow resentment towards the baby. Try some of these tricks out:
- After a couple weeks at home, make special time for your older child(ren) away from the house and baby. Leave your sidekick (aka the baby) with your partner, mom or nanny and go do something fun. A trip to the park, a bike ride around the neighborhood (if you are feeling up to it) or matinee will allow your first to have your undivided attention.
- Tell your older child(ren) that you’d love to do whatever your child is asking you to do and give them a timeframe in which you’ll be ready to do it.
- Incorporate a timer that they can set so they know you’re making time for them, even if it’s not right at the exact moment they may want you.
- When big changes happen like a new high chair or a change in furniture arrangements in the living room, instead of saying, “It’s for the baby” say “It’s for my big kid!”
Establishing a Bond
It won’t happen overnight and you can’t force it, but eventually your older child(ren) will fall in love with their new sibling. There are, however, some things you can do to help things along subtly:
- Have them pick out a present for baby and, in turn, have a present ready for them from their new sibling
- Have the younger siblings use baby appropriate toys with the baby to elicit a response like shaking a rattle or holding up a mirror while older siblings can (with your supervision) hold the baby in their lap.
- Give the baby a voice. When the baby does something, tell your older child(ren) she’s doing something specific like, “When the baby holds your finger, she’s telling you she loves you.”
- As you get adjusted to your new normal, incorporate time-sharing activities with the older kids. An easy one is to read to your older kid(s) while feeding the baby. Or try putting the baby on a
LilyPad Playmat for some tummy time while you play with your older kid(s) on the floor.
Baby Proofing Takes on a Whole New Meaning
If you have more than one older child, the challenge in baby proofing goes up a notch. They will likely think the baby is another new toy - THEIR toy. Remember that babies are a lot more resilient than we give them credit for, but also use positive words with your older kid(s) like “gentle hands” instead of “don’t hit the baby.” Do your best not to overreact if they don’t immediately understand the right vs. wrong way and praise them when they do it the right way. The bigger reaction they get from you, the more they’ll likely repeat that behavior, so focus on reacting big when they do it right.
Sure we all bought the outlet plugs and a few cabinet locks with our first but when you bring a new baby into the mix, baby proofing will need to be taken to a new level.
“I wasn't a big fan of baby gates with my first (Hudson) but boy did I come to regret my resistance. Just a few weeks after bringing home our daughter (Kora), I was nursing her in the living room when the house became eerily quiet. With my limited vision, I finally found Hudson, then 15 months old, standing in the dining room with his hands down the back of his diaper. Before I could say his name, a huge handful of poop hit the floor. Man did I wish I had bought and put up the darn baby gates!”Katie GunterSales Director
On top of that, you no longer only have to worry about one set of toys. You’ll likely have Legos for your 4 year old, wooden puzzles for the toddler and then you’ll need to have the baby only area for the baby. The hard part is educating the older child(ren) on what is and isn’t appropriate to share with the baby. We’ve found that having a small bin/basket with the pre-approved baby toys handy. Telling the older kiddo(s) this simple rule also helps: If it’s bigger than their hand, it’s okay for baby. This gives them an easy point of reference. The biggest and easiest rule to try and establish both before and after baby’s arrival is to ask mommy and daddy first. Just teaching them to ask you before they do anything with the baby will help ease everyone’s minds. It won’t mean accidents won’t happen, but it might cut back on the volume a little bit.
Give Each Other a Break
Lastly, don’t be surprised to go through the same little arguments and spats with your partner that you went through with the arrival of each new baby. Both of you will be sleep-deprived and while, yes, you’re the one who just birthed a human being, your partner is doing their best to help out and adjust as well. Garbage day will be forgotten. You’ll forget to ask for water or a snack as soon as you start nursing and can’t get up. Your kids will act out. You’ll run out of patience all around. Try to take it all in stride and with as much of a sense of humor as possible.