Heather is a mommy of 2 boys, Logan and Maddox and lives in North Carolina. She shares her parenting experiences so that it might be a little easier for other parents.
Have you just given birth? Are you expecting?
Here are some great tips and ideas to help smooth the transition for your first and or subsequent children when bringing home a new baby. Your best bet if you’re still pregnant is to start talking to your existing child or children about what a great big brother or big sister they are going to be.
Start by looking at some of your pregnancy books and show your child what is going to be happening to Mommy's body and explain that there is a baby growing in there. Explain to them how things will change but focus on the positive changes. Now is not the time to tell them they will soon be sharing all their toys!
Make sure to keep talking about how they are going to be so important as the big brother/sister. Tell them how they can be your special helper and how much their new baby is going to love and look up to them. Gush about your child and how amazing they are and how you can't wait to see what a great big brother/sister they are going to be.
Here's a great tip - make sure to have a framed picture of your child or children on your bed side table where you deliver. When your child comes to visit you and meet their new sibling, they will see that you were still thinking of them and that they are important enough to have their picture there. Another tip is to get or make your child a tee-shirt that says "I'm the big brother/sister", this makes them feel special, but is also another way to help them start understanding where they fit into the new family dynamic.
If you have already had your new baby it's never too late to start building your older
child's esteem by telling them all the same things.
Once baby has arrived it is time to include your children as much as possible. Give them some baby jobs and tell them how much help they are every time. Have them fetch the diaper, the wipes, throw out the soiled diapers…if they are willing. Just keep them involved and important. They will love helping out- and bonus- you get an extra set of hands when the new baby has a diaper blow out and you’re stranded in the middle of your white living room carpet ten feet from the nearest diaper and wipe station.
Now I must say that no matter how much you prepare for the transition, the green eyed monster - also known as the jealousy monster will show up-occasionally.
Typically things will seem honky-dory until the around 5 weeks of age, when undoubtedly the new addition decides to have their first smile (usually gas) or first laugh, or the first time they push up on their forearms and shoot that adorable grin.
Basically be prepared for your older child to take note of all the excited squeals
he or she starts hearing from the crowd of adoring fans-otherwise known as Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa. When this happens- hold on tight- you have now entered the jealousy zone and you are on a roller coaster ride that will most likely continue from then on.
The best thing to do is always remind your children just how much you love them and be sure to tell them why. Here is a little story taken from a page in my life very recently.
One night before bed, my older son-Logan (6) was feeling sorry for himself and saying "you love Maddox (his 3 year old brother) more then me!" To which I responded- “No baby, I love you both the same amount. However I do love you both very differently.” Then using his most prized bedtime cuddlies - Clifford, the big red dog and his Elle the elephant, I asked him: "Logan which of these two do you love more?" He shot me a frownie face and said, “Both.” I said, “Really? Don't you love one of them more then the other?”
He said, “No- the same.” I said, “Well what if I told you that you had to choose one?“ He looked at the two of them as if to try and decide between them and said, “I can't- I love them both”.
To which I responded, “Well tell me what you love about each of them?”
He began to give me reasons he liked each. In return I said, “Well you see- that's how I feel about you and your brother. I love you both and couldn't live without either one of you. You are both very special to me. But just like you love Clifford and Elle for different reasons- I love you and Maddox for different reasons.” Then I went on to tell him all the things I loved most about him and all the things I loved about his brother.
Now I would LOVE to say that I put that green eyed monster to bed for good that night, but he still likes to pay a visit every now and then. What I realized that night is, just how important that conversation was but that it was just the beginning. That conversation will probably need to be had many more times until he is more emotionally mature, but for now- while they are young - it was and still is a great way to make him understand that he has a special place in my heart and that he is loved for who he is.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences below.