Saturday, April 18, 2009

Requests From Our Readers: Week 2

For our weekly reader feature this week, we are talking about preparing a toddler for a new baby. Check out what our reader said:

"I was wondering if you were willing to do a post about preparing a toddler for a new baby coming. I'm plenty nervous about my daughter's reaction and would love some good advice from those who've been there."

We actually had this request from two readers. So a little background.... one of the readers has a baby boy coming in a few weeks and her daughter is 3 1/2. The other reader has a baby coming in October and her daughter will be just under 2. So we have a diversity here.

So tell us:
What can you suggest for older toddlers? Younger toddlers?

What have you found helpful for siblings of the same gender? Siblings of different gender? (Does it make a difference?).

Have you encountered jealously from your toddler when the new baby comes? How have you deal with it?

What are some other ways to cope with having children around and a new baby?

Next Week: Pregnancy Concerns


Kelly A. said...

I am a mom to one so I have not experienced preparing a toddler for a new baby yet, but this reminded me of a post one of my friends wrote with advice she got at a baby shower when she was pregnant with her second. It isn't all directly about helping a toddler adjust to a new baby, but here is what she was told by her friends:

*Exercise in the morning, it will give you energy for the day.
*Get out of the house and play with friends.
*Read to your toddler when you are nursing the baby so he/she won’t feel neglected.
*Maybe the best thing would be to remember that you can never have enough photos, things written down or forgiveness. (Talk about great advice for anyone!)
*Don’t compare your children. Milestones are different for every child and they all eventually learn to walk, ride a bike, talk, etc… Enjoy every minute!
*Give your first as much attention as you can while the baby is small. Help him/her feel like the baby is his/her baby too.
*Follow your instincts.
*Do Parent-child date nights, and let the child pick the activity. So fun!
*Have the baby bring a present home to the older siblings from the hospital.
*Let your husband be in charge of breakfast for your toddler and do bath time so you can have a break. *Do mommy-daughter and daddy-daughter dates. Getting that alone times becomes really important. *Put your toddler in charge of as much as possible, like choosing baby’s outfit or bib…
*You won’t have time to do all the things you want to do, but some how you do end up with the time for all the things your need to do.

So moms who have gone through this, what do YOU think?

Jared and Delia said...

Kelly. That was great advice. I have totally fallen into the trap of comparing my kids. It is hard not too. Since #1 has set the tone for your expectations for how it will go the second time around. I agree though to celebrate them as individuals. I will definitely work on that!

I have two sons. My oldest is 4 and my youngest is 7 months so I relate very closely to the mother with the preschool age child and one on the way. My son was a great helper and loved the baby from day one. He never has shown any signs of jealousy. I think that a lot of factors feed into this good situation.

- Personality of both and AGE of the older sibling. My oldest thrives off making my youngest laugh and laugh he does almost every time. They just click far. When he was a newborn, my oldest didn't seem too interested in him, but didn't hate him either because he was older and didn't mind that the baby took much of my time. He was busy doing his own thing: playing with legos, drawing, watching a show. My youngest also slept all the time for the first 4 months so I had plenty of time to spend with my oldest. Part of this I know has to do with my youngest being a naturally good sleeper, but I also just let go of a strict schedule. If he wanted to nap right after feeding, I just let him. I let a lot of things that I "stayed on top of" with my first one slide. I tried to keep perspective on what really mattered and that helped everyone be less stressed. So...yes my son watched more TV in the beginning when I needed naps and I didn't worry about it too much. I also didn't worry about baths every night, we budgeted to eat out of little more until things became manageable, cleaning was kept to a minimum as well.

- I would always make him feel so big by having him help. I would ask him to bring him toys, help with the pacifier, get the phone when it rang, etc. Probably things you are naturally going to do anyway out of need. :) Slather her with praise when she helps too.
- Like Kelly suggested, we had my baby give him a gift of Legos. A very big boy gift that keeps him busy for hours - good for both of us :).
- Like you, we had my second when the weather was still nice so we could go on walks, and get out of the house. This was key to helping everyone get into or stay in a good mood, reducing chances for your oldest to act out or have hard feelings about the change.
- When you feel like you can, getting back into a similar routine to the one you had before the baby came will help the oldest feel more stability. I have to admit. Instead of following the schedule many "experts" recommend for a baby, we followed my older son's routine. That meant I nursed in public if needed. My baby napped in the car seat a lot if we were out of the house, and my baby wakes earlier in the day and goes to bed earlier at night than my oldest did when he was a baby.
- I planned projects to do with my oldest each day. It was his special time while the baby slept. I was TIRED, but because I planned it out a week or two weeks ahead, of everything I was going to do for each day, it was easier to stick to it.
- I signed him up for soccer. It gave him a big boy thing to do all his own. He loved getting out of the house and we were all there cheering him on and giving him that special attention.
- Every time the baby cried, I would respond verbally with compassion. Like: "Oh are you sad? It's okay." I modeled how I wanted my older son to treat him and he copied me almost exactly. I would explain his cries. Like: "He is crying because he is hungry. He can't use words yet like you, but that is what he is saying." The more you explain, the more they feel empowered and less offended or confused by everything.That is one benefit to an older child, you can reason with them much more.
- For the first month or so until my baby started sleeping longer at night, I set up camp on our couch and so I wouldn't wake my son or husband. If they got enough sleep we were all better off rather than no one getting enough sleep.
- While I was pregnant I would talk about the baby a lot and have my son make up stories and tell them to my belly. When he was a newborn he continued this tradition and now we read all together at night when it is practical.

Wow...I guess I could write a novel about this.

I too was so nervous about this transition. My oldest was a mama's boy until about 2 1/2. If I babysat other kids he didn't like that too much, but I found a his he likes his own brother more than just any other child.

Because your child is a girl, she would probably benefit from getting a doll to dress and diaper with you. My family made me feel like I HAD to get one for my son, that it was CRUCIAL. I got him one and he played with it for like two seconds. It was not his thing. So feel out your daughters personality. There are tips you can take from everyone but this experience will be totally unique for you and your kids. I fully expect it to be a new and different experience for my kids when #3 joins our family.

Congrats on your new addition and good luck with everything!

Jared and Delia said...

Oh and sorry if I misled anyone into thinking this transition was perfect for us. It certainly was not, but above were the tips that helped and that I learned along the way...the hard way :).

Roeckers said...

I preparation for each of our kids we have let them take turns attending special Dr appts. I have always been blessed with GREAT Dr.s. They have let the kids help use the doppler to find the babies heart beat and show tehm pictures during my appts of how big the baby in mommy's tummy is. . Obviously there are appts you can't take them to, but this has helped with each of the younger kids.

We also made sure for the first few weeks if the kid asked to hold the baby we let them irregardless if it meant they may wake. They need to bond as well. We never got mad at them for making loud noises as they may wake the baby, we always phrased it differently- "thats to loud and hurts my ears" or "Wow sounds like fun can we see what those toys do in the grass."

We have also done the toy from the baby thing. I works for the younger kids, my 7yr old is too old for this but doesn't want to be left out of the gift giving. We also let the big kids pick out something to give to the new baby which is a fun date before the baby comes.

Good luck you new moms!! Enjoy the new stages of motherhood! Let us know if you find any new tricks that work for you

Diane said...

Yeah! I'm so happy for this request! We have number 2 coming in Oct. too, and my son will be 17 months. I need all the help I can get! ;)

One thing I heard to help the older child know that they are still getting your attention is when you are spending time with them, make sure to point it out, "Right now is 'Hunter' time." "Mommy is spending time with Hunter now" and when you have to take care of the newbie, point out that it's their turn, "Now Mommy is spending time with 'whatever their name is' and soon it will be Hunter's time again", etc. I try and do this already so he will be used to taking turns. i.e. when we're eating breakfast I'll feed Hunter and then I say, "Now it's my turn to eat" and then after a few bites I tell him it's his turn again.

Hope this helps, and hope it works! Thanks everyone for your good advice! :)

Tannie Datwyler said...

What wise mothers. I can't add much more because most of what I would have to say has already been given! :) My daughter was 2 when her baby brother was born.

I personally had a hard time nursing and reading to my little girl at the same time. I love reading with her and she LOVES books (those who read my blog have seen her millions of books spread out on the floor). But, I didn't like to while nursing. That is a good suggestion, but just in case you don't fancy your toddler hovering around while you nurse (I just can't stand it, even now), here are some other ideas....

I try to do something special for her while I nurse. I used to let her watch her favorite cartoon (not a ton of TV, I've always personally tried to limit that, but I let her watch 1/2 an hour once or twice a day while he ate). Now I usually get some really fun art activity going for her while I nurse and she likes that a lot. Sometimes she will even just play around on the floor while I nurse and I don't think she feels neglected.

My daugther is quite independent though. Like Delia said about her son, she wasn't too bothered when her brother came home because she just did her own thing. She can play for a very long time by herself.

What really helped my daughter though is this (I think it was already mentioned). I have involved her with as much as possible with my little boy. I say things like, "isn't he precious," and "don't you love him? I do." This might not work for some kids, but it worked for my girl.... When he would cry I would say, "oh no, our baby is sad, let's go get him, he needs us." Or like has been mentioned, when he cries I say, "he's just hungry, or he's just sad and needs to be held." I also praise her to high heaven every time she helps. She gets diapers for him and toys and every time she does I try my best to thank her.

Most of all, I tell my little girl how much I love her. I've told her a million times what a good big sister she is. I still spend that one on one time with her. I hope I do this enough, I really hope she knows how much I love her, because it sure is different (but good) with two.

Good luck!! Remember, that it might be hard and if you are overwhelmed for a bit, then that is normal. Don't try to take on too much at once, because I did when my son was about 3 months old that and was really frustrated for a few weeks until I figured out that I just needed to chill out. Life will get back to more normal that you are used to, it just may take 6 months, or a year... :)

Heather said...

Thank you, thank you for the great advice! Hopefully the transition will be fairly low-key. I am very glad it will be warm outside when he arrives so we can all go on walks together.

Jay and Michelle Teerlink said...

With my son I had the added challenge that he is autistic and my husband was on deployment (he's in the navy) at the time I was pregnant. What I did was I went and bought some story books on having a new baby sister (since that is what I was having). He loved those story books so much. He was 3 at the time and so I tried to have him interact with me in the preparing of his sister's room.
Because we know that I can not carry to full term we had to do all the explaining and prep work way in advance so he got use to seeing her room set up months before she was actually born.
When my daughter was born she was in the NICU for the first 5 days due to a few complications. While she was in there my son (only 3 at the time) was able to go in with my husband and I to visit her and occasionally hold her. I think that helped him out a lot because when we brought her home we never delt with any jealousy from him. He got to experience having her around before she was ever home. And when she was home we encouraged him to help us out with some of the basics of caring for her.

~Sherry (Bear) and Stephen (Wolf) said...

I have a 4 year old boy, a 2 1/2 year old boy, and a 7 month old boy. I have them take care of each other. (my 2 1/2 year old gets the diapers and wet wipes for me, the 4 year old helps feed the 7 month old, I hold all three in my lap and read stories in a "baby" voice like my 7 month old is reading them a story.) I suppose I am lucky not to have expereinced more jealousy. (Both of the younger ones were in the NICU for 1 1/2 weeks, so as mentioned above maybe that does help get the kids used to a new baby.)
I also give them more responsibilities...our chore chart includes the baby. Both boys think it is fun to help the baby do his chores for the day, like dishes, or clean mirrors.
Often when I am caring for the baby, nursing or giving him a bath, the older boys have special stuffed animals that they get to take care of.
Good luck with your new baby!