I feel terribly unprepared for two children. I know all the tactical things to do to take care of a baby and I certainly know how to take care of my toddler, but taking care of them simultaneously? Enter PANIC face here. When it comes to preparing myself emotionally and spiritually for another child I feel at a complete loss. So in my effort to prepare as best I can I’ve compiled some helpful things I’ve heard from other moms that helped them as well as some good tips I’ve read along the way. I pray they will serve us both well.
Make any planned major changes to your child’s life early in pregnancy - We did a few major changes with Little Man as soon as we found out we were pregnant like moving him to a big boy bed (his crib is going to be used for the baby) and taking away his pacifier. We also worked with him on getting into his car seat by himself, training him to get his big boy stool when he wants up to see what I am doing in the kitchen and having Daddy do the bathing and bedtime routine a lot. All have been pretty successful and second nature now. The goal here is to ensure there is as little change to his life and routine besides the new baby.
Books – this should go without saying but reading books to your child about the coming of a new baby can be really helpful. It also has given me conversation openers to ask Little Man questions about the baby (i.e. where his baby brother is and where he will sleep) to ensure he is understanding what’s coming. Some favorite books I have found are:
- The New Baby by Mercy Mayer
- Will it be a Baby Brother? by Eve Bunting
- I’m A Big Brother by Joanna Cole
Bring your child to a few doctor appointments - this wasn’t completely by choice on my part. Once those doctor visits get so frequent it’s hard to find a sitter each time you have to go in to listen to the heartbeat. Do yourself a favor though and be sure the first appointment he attends you have someone else with you to help/hold him. Who knew my son would begin crying the minute the Dr. put the doppler on my belly!? He thought the Dr. was hurting me and the new baby. Once we talked about it and explained things better he was fine coming to future appointments with me alone. But you never know how your kid will react so be prepared.
Never blame the baby for not doing something for him - this is one of those gems I heard from another mom of two boys. She said to watch how I explain myself when I cannot fulfill a request from my Little Man. Instead of saying, “I can’t pick you up, Im feeding the baby” try saying “Mommy’s hands are full right now, can you come sit next to me on the couch and I can read you a story?” This has been wonderful advice and something I can work on even now as my ever-growing belly has prevented me from doing certain things for and with him.
Start making him wait for things before the baby comes - this has been a tough one for me. It’s so hard to remember to make him wait at times when I can just do something for him fast and avoid any whining or tantrums. I know teaching him patience now will pay off later but it really has been a total mental switch for me.
Take an older sibling class - we took Little Man to a class offered by our hospital. Granted he was a bit young (and hyper) to get a ton out of it but it was really helpful for him to see the recovery wing and where Mama will be staying when he comes to visit. They also showed him a brand new baby (through the window of course!) which he seemed pretty intrigued by. It was also good for me to hear how the nurse spoke to the other kids and explained different aspects of babies and how we treat them. I was able to reinforce those at home later when Little Man was more receptive.
Birthday party for baby - Little Man LOVES cake so I thought it may be a fun idea to have him help create a birthday party as a way to welcome the new baby home. After all we are celebrating this new babies birthday, right? So I am making banners with him ahead of time and having the grandparents work with him on baking a cake for when we come home from the hospital. At least this way if he isn’t excited about the baby he can get excited about getting some cake.
So what tips do you have for preparing for a second child?