For the most part, having your second child is much easier than having your first. While you might have a more profound sense of confidence and ability, having a second child does come with a new set of challenges and obstacles, especially if your first child is a toddler.
So, what can you do to ensure that you, your newborn baby and your toddler are all happy and healthy?
Breaking the news
Often parents are unsure what time is best to break the news that a new bundle of joy is on the way. If in doubt, tell your toddler about the new baby later in the pregnancy when they can notice the changes in your body or in the ways you are preparing for a baby. It is important to make the idea of a new baby feel exciting and fun for your toddler. It helps to regularly talk about the idea of a new baby and your toddler becoming an older sibling. Look at baby pictures in albums or magazines, or if you know a friend or family member with a newborn, it is a good idea to spend some time with them with your toddler.
If you have a hospital birth, your toddler may find it challenging to be apart from you. Make sure you communicate with them and help them understand why you are at the hospital and that you will be home soon. Make sure your toddler gets lots of your attention when they come to visit you. If your friends or relatives visit, you could ask them to pay attention to your toddler, too. It could be expected that your toddler’s response is angry or unenthusiastic. Remember that all the care in the world might not prevent an older child from having strong reactions towards the baby now and then. However, with patience, understanding and proper management, you can help minimise discomfort and attention-seeking behaviour.
Understanding your first-born’s reaction to a new baby
From being the centre of your attention to suddenly having to share your focus is a huge change for a toddler. That is why you need to understand your first-born’s reactions to your new baby.
A new little brother or sister may appear very threatening to a toddler. It is normal for toddlers to blame an ‘intruder’ for the sudden change in their routine and newfound shared affection. You may notice an increase in misbehaviour, crying or a lack of cooperation.
For parents, the new baby’s needs might seem like a priority; however, it is essential to be empathetic and understand why your toddler feels the way they do.
It’s evident that handling toddlers wisely in the lead up to their sibling’s birth can lead to a more peaceful household, but it’s also important for their own sense of well-being. Feeling secure and good about themselves is the basis of their self-confidence later in life, and these feelings can be badly shaken if they are made to feel like a second priority after your newborn. Toddlers need to continue feeling loved, wanted and important, and there are many small ways to achieve this. Invest in having alone time with your toddler while your new baby is napping and ensure you continue to participate in their favourite games and activities when you can.
Accepting the baby
If your baby is in a posterior position when labour starts, you can still use the recommended postures and movements to try to help your baby to turn. Although there’s not much evidence that it will turn your baby, it may help to relieve your pain.
Posterior babies often change position during labour, and most get themselves into an anterior position by the time you have reached the pushing stage. Your midwife will be able to tell how your baby’s lying by feeling your tummy at first. You may start to feel pain several days before labour actually starts, and this could signify that your baby is trying to turn into the correct position.
One of the hardest adjustments you will make is juggling your baby and toddler during feeding times. Feed times can be particularly tricky as it’s hard to keep an eye on toddlers at the same time. Toddlers may also get jealous or frightened and act out by hitting or pulling at the baby or demanding attention in other ways. Ensure your baby is safe and occupied when it comes time to feed. Alternatively, if your toddler likes to stay with you while you’re feeding your baby, cuddle them or read them a story at the same time. Making sure that your toddler doesn’t feel rejected is important, but so is your need for peace to feed your baby. Find the most straightforward way that works for you to have restful feeding times.
If you have any questions about your newborn baby and introducing them to your toddler, or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.