Going from zero to one kid can be tough. But going up to two? That's generally easier, at least for the parents. The number one thing most parents worry about when it comes to adding a kid? How their first baby will handle the change. Here are some great ways to ease the transition for everyone.
OK, so most experts recommend preparing your baby for the arrival of another baby by talking about it. Your child trusts you, and you can use low-pressure times - like when you're in the car, in the bath, or during meal time - to explain that there will soon be another member joining the family. It's likely that your kid won't respond much, but just keep talking about it. Some kids respond more when they see mom's body changing if it's a natural sibling, but others are more oblivious. Depending on your firstborn's age, they might reject or react strongly against the idea of a sibling. But don't let that frighten you. Most children struggle with transition, and younger toddlers don't like to share, so this is completely natural.
Kids thrive on routine and generally react fairly poorly to change. When kids are confused, stressed or struggling with a situation, you can expect tantrums and limit-testing behaviour to skyrocket. But this isn't a sign that your child is bad or spoilt. They're just confused and asking for help. Parenting expert, Janet Lansbury, recommends accepting these tantrums as a good way to get these heightened feelings out in the open. Accept all feelings and acknowledge them as good and necessary. This will help to lighten the emotional load your child carries, helping them adjust to change.
Now, this is totally optional, but if you have one of those busy kids who need you for everything, this might help. When you've had one baby, you know that the early weeks are a juggle of feeding, changing, soothing, being nap-trapped and focusing all your attention on the tiny, vulnerable baby. And that was cool when there was just one kid. But when you're also wrangling a busy toddler, activity bags can be handy. Before the new baby is born, create a couple of busy bags with a couple of small, new things in each one. Make sure you choose things your toddler can busy themselves with alone - think stickers, figurines, crayons, and so on - and hand one over when you're feeling overwhelmed. It should buy you a few minutes to get the baby changed or fed, keeping your toddler happy and occupied.
The last piece of advice? According to one mom, this was the best piece of advice she ever received: the baby can't understand what you're saying, so use this to make the older kid feel important. Frame activities around the toddler, telling the baby you'll get to them afterward. Does baby need a nappy change? Then you say, "OK, baby, we're going to quickly change your nappy, then we're going to admire your big sister's construction!" This makes your toddler feel important and still a priority, even though your hands are busy with the baby.
Adding another baby to the family can be a bit of a juggle at first. But with these tips and tricks, we hope the transition is a slightly easier one. Often kids surprise their parents with their loving, patient, accepting behaviour towards their new sibling. Sometimes kids completely ignore the new addition for a few weeks. Whichever way your cookie crumbles, just know that it's all normal and the transition will ease more quickly than you imagine. Quite soon, you won't remember what it was like to just have one kid.