Lots of families boast how wonderful everything has been with the first baby. Families also wish to have their children with a small age gap so they can grow and play together. So it’s definitely normal for people to ask about your plans for the second baby, and they’ll never forget to mention that it’ll be very hard if the gap is too big. I could keep listing comments like these, and it would be a never-ending list.
Is it actually harder if the children have a bigger age gap?
I’ve worked for a family whose children were 5 years apart and I really liked it, as I could discuss the worlds wonders and issues while the baby’s asleep. Also I think it’s very sweet to let the older sibling choose the clothes for the baby, as that helped the older child get used to the new situation and feel the importance of their spot in the family. It was also an assurance that their opinion counted and was heard!
So you announce the expected second baby with great joy. Now you should be only happy as you have things left over (and still in a great condition) from the first child, and so there is not that many things you’d need to prepare. Also you’re much wiser and theoretically you should have a good level of confidence in your parenting skills. Don’t worry that you’ll need to go through everything again, as this time you’ll know when and who to ask for help, and how to use the people who offer their help.
You believe that your friends and family are very excited about the new addition to the family? Well, they’ll definitely have an endless stream of questions to create some panic!
Most frequent question/phrases:
– Do you already have a nursery spot for the older child?
– The baby will need the crib, have you prepared a bigger bed for the older child?
– Most moms in your circle will see you as a client and will try to sell you their old things. Yes, sell, and not give!
– It’s also very common along friends (especially the most helpful ones) who say you’ll definitely need a new pram, and guess what? Their own friend is just selling theirs, so definitely don’t go buying a new one!
And so on.
What should you keep in mind with the second child?
– Jealousy can turn the harmonious family upside down and create unnecessary stress for the parent staying at home.
– Don’t rush with taking the older child out of the crib, as sleeping in a crib doesn’t have an age limit. From my own experience I can say every child is different. You shouldn’t go for radical changes with the older child (the family I work for has a 2.5-year-old who happily sleeps in his own crib, as that makes him feel safe).
It’ll be a big psychological change for the older child anyway. So, I’d actually recommend getting a new crib for the second baby (and yes, the family I work for has 2 cribs).
Should I send the older child to nursery?
Why should the child be punished if they love staying at home with mom/dad and love playing in the park/playground. The usual story that the older child has to be sent away in order to spend time with the new baby is completely wrong and only instigates hatred, jealousy and ill feelings between the siblings. Did you know that psychologically the older child will feel the same as if you are with your partner and they bring in another partner, while at the same time repeating how much they love you? Would you believe him/her? No, definitely not. The same applies for your older child.
– To ease any tension I recommend writing down all the things the older child can help with. For example, if you need a new diaper for the baby, then you can ask for help. Bathing both of them together can also be fun for everyone, but of course never leave them alone in the tub (which is very dangerous). During bathing time you can all play with water and bath toys.
– When the baby is brought home for the first time, make a bigger sort of a gift for the older child. That way they will understand it’s not a bad idea at all to have a baby in the house.
– Ask family and friends to bring a gift for the older child instead of the baby, or if they insist, then perhaps something for them both. Baby doesn’t care about things, but the older child does need support and appreciation.
– Plan your day in a way that both children get at least 1 hour per day with each parent, where you do something or play a game that the older child likes. Whether it’s playing with lego, colouring/drawing or preparing dinner together.
– If before the second baby, the activities included music lessons or play-dates with friends, then do not stop these with the arrival of a new baby. Rather try to make these happen and plan your time more.
– In regards to a pram, you could think about getting a small bike or a kids scooter. You should also communicate to the toddler that the baby will go into the pram now and that they’ll become the big sister/brother. I would actually recommend a scooter as it’s lighter, takes less space, you can take it on a bus or tram, and is a lot easier to put in a car. My personal favourite brand is https://www.micro-scooters.co.uk
I also wish to bring forth an example from a family who I currently work for. Some time ago the mom offered the older child to go to a gymnastics class together, and to leave the baby at home with me. Then surprisingly the toddler’s response was: ‘No, she comes with us and won’t stay home alone!’
I always say that we can’t leave the baby at home and should take them along, and that we won’t cancel any play-dates because of the baby. And that the baby needs to get accustomed to our schedule.
Have a great weekend!