Any parent who is expecting their second child has probably spent some sleepless nights wondering how their No #1, who has been the darling of the home since his/her birth, will take to the new arrival.
In Singapore, it’s fairly common for families to plan for a close age gap between children, with many parents aiming for a 2-3 year gap between kids. However, it’s no walk in the park parenting two littles under two, especially if your No #1 is still very much dependent on you for his daily routines and needs!
Here are some tips on preparing your child for his new brother or sister. Do remember that every family has their own unique values, principles and backgrounds to grapple with as well.
1. Use stories
If you’re wondering how best to break the news to your child, consider using books to help him come to terms with what it means to be having a new baby in the home, and how that reality could look like.
Related Post: Hello New Baby! Welcoming Your New Baby To Your Child
2. Move No #1 to his own room
If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to move your No #1 out. Even if you’re all for co-sleeping, do consider how the frequent night wakings and cries of baby are going to have an impact on your family’s night-time rest. In fact, we highly recommend that you move your No #1 to his own room as early as possible, so that this move is not associated with No #2 taking over his place in your room, but about him growing up.
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3. Work towards independence
Your No #1 might be at the age when most parents are doing potty training or coaching him to self-feed. At this stage, don’t be overly ambitious for you and your child – pregnancy and motherhood is stressful enough as it is. Choose one area of independence to work on, and focus on that purposefully with whatever time you have. Of course, if you have lots of time and energy and your child picks up the skill much faster than expected, you can always go on to teach him something new!
4. Fix a routine
Research shows that most children thrive in environments that offer adequate structure and routine. Fixing a daily routine for naps, meal times, TV time, play time, bath time, etc quite early on can help your child hold on to that sense of familiarity and predictability to daily life, even with the new member in the home.
5. Gradually increase alone-time
Find out what peaks your child’s interest and be sure to have lots of that activity on hand for him to engage in, so you can get some much-needed space. Ideally, seek to discover if there is any particular activity that he enjoys which he can be engaged in independently. Then intentionally and incrementally set aside time for him to be on his own with the activity. This will buy you precious time to tackle household chores, attend to baby’s needs, and take time out to breathe for yourself, when you have two to look after.
To help your child learn how to be gentle and quiet with baby around, some simple role-play with a favourite stuffed toy can work wonders! Most young children are fairly excitable and can be rough with their actions, so “training” of this kind helps your child to recognize the need to tune down his actions and volume a notch when baby is around.
7. Share all your meals
It’s time for No #1 to join the adults at the dining table in all sense. By this I mean that you should help him or her to adjust to an adult’s palate, albeit a relatively healthier one. This will save you time and energy whenever it comes to preparing meals, as you don’t have to prepare a separate dish for your child. It also helps “promote” your child to the status of being a new “kor kor” or “jie jie” now.
8. Practice going out
If you’ve planning to be fairly mobile with two bubs, invest in a lightweight stroller for No #1, and start using it regularly to get him used to his new mode of transport. If you’ve been using the carrier for outside trips, now is definitely the time to wean him off that mode of travel, because that’s where No #2 is going to have to be.
Recommended strollers: Combi strollers for it’s light weight, durability and quality.
9. Date your No #1
Having a new member of the family can be very disorienting for your elder child, and finding pockets of time when it can be just you and him, or daddy and him, can be vital in assuring him that your love for him is still the same, and that he is very important to you. Even months before baby is due, start “dating” your child – set aside precious time when you are completely available to him, to do something that he enjoys. This assures him that his special relationship with you is still intact, new baby or not.
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10. Work on a project for baby together
Involve your No #1 in preparing something for his baby brother or sister. It could be painting the room, or putting together a family photo album, or making a mobile for his cot. This is not only a fun and meaningful exercise, but also gives your child the opportunity to gain the satisfaction of working together with Daddy and Mummy on a special project!
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By Dorothea Chow