When you have your first child, it’s hard to imagine that you could love anyone as much as that child. Throughout my pregnancy with my second child, I wasn’t sure if I would love him as much as I loved my first. I mean, she was my first. She made me a mom, she was my world for two years, and she had me all to herself. I was her world too. It was me and her.
I had my son and fell instantly in love. A love I can’t describe, just as I couldn’t and still can’t for my daughter. My heart grew and made room for my boy. But how would my daughter feel? Would she feel replaced? Angry? Jealous? Happy? So many thoughts crossed my mind and I didn’t really know what to do because she just turned 2 so not much conversation was going on! Well, after 8 months I feel like I can offer some ideas/tips as to how to help your toddler (or child) feel more comfortable with the idea of a new sibling and how to make your older child still feel special.
Talk: Even though my daughter was only 2, I tried to talk to her as much as I could about baby items that were flooding the house. She played with the baby toys and even put her baby doll in the swings. I reiterated, “we’re going to have a real baby here soon!” It’s hard for a child that young to even understand that foreign concept! This would definitely work out a little easier with an older child 🙂
Make Time: Make one-on-one time for you and your older child. When my son naps, I usually tried to rush around and clean as much as I could while my daughter watched t.v. What I’ve noticed is that my daughter begs for attention at that time. She knows the baby is sleeping and wants it to be like it was before him, even if just for an hour. I look around the house and sigh because it looks so awful, but I smile at her and sit down with the play doh. And the house stays messy, and that’s ok!
Have them help: Have your older child help out with the baby and make them feel special. I especially like doing this in the bathtub. I ask my daughter to rinse the baby’s feet or give him a toy. So. much. praise. Even for the little things, I praise her and clap like she’s won a gold medal for being the best big sister!
Patience: I have had those days where the baby is fussy and simultaneously my daughter starts whining. I snap. “Why are you crying? The baby has a reason to cry.” Ugh why did I say that? I instantly feel bad and call my 2 year old over to give her a hug. Toddlers can’t communicate their emotions effectively. It’s a struggle for me to stay calm when BOTH kids are crying. I feel like because my daughter is the older one, I automatically assume she has no reason to cry unless she’s hurt. It’s not true, and I feel guilty after losing my patience with her just because the baby is being difficult. When my daughter is rough with the baby, I try to have patience and talk to her about WHY she can’t lean on him or squeeze him too tight (or kick him in the face…it’s happened)
These may seem like obvious “tips” but they’re easily overlooked. I definitely overlooked these and it took me some time to realize it. Patience is still a daily struggle of mine, especially being a stay at home mom who is with my kids 24/7. Whatever our struggle is, just remember that your 1st child was a baby and was your whole world. I try not to lose sight of that because although my daughter isn’t a baby, she’s turning into a wonderful little girl with the best personality I could have ever imagined.
I hope this helped some of you! Please let me know what tips or ideas you have for keeping your kids feeling special!