Here are The Neo Practice’s top 6 ways to prepare your family (including your first born) for your second baby.
Here are The Neo Practice’s top 6 ways to prepare your family (including your first born) for your second baby. Plus you don’t need a royal income to afford them – they are all completely free! However, if you want a more structured personalised approach, you can take advantage of a 10% discount on the Neo Practice course: Welcoming Baby Number 2, running in June and July. Click here for details.
1. Help your toddler to become more independent
It might seem like a little thing, but a child who can take off and put on their own coat, and do the same with their shoes, really can make life easier. It can save you some bending in later stage pregnancy and it can help get you out the door faster when there are two small people to get ready in the future.
If you haven’t already done so, then why not install a coat hook at your child’s height. As part of their daily routine you can also encourage even small children to pick up and put away their toys, place their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, make their own bed and set the table for dinner.
2. Read books with your first child about pregnancy and babies
Borrow books from friends or pop to the library. Most libraries have an excellent selection of books on these topics.
How much a small child will actually take in on these topics is somewhat debatable, but by reading stories together you are spending quality time focussed on your child and helping each other find a way of talking about the new baby and what they should expect as well as what’s behind your ever increasing bump.
Great books to read together include Baby Born by Anastasia Suen, My New Baby by Rachel Fuller, There’s a House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae, and I’m a big Sister and I’m a Big Brother, both by Joanna Cole.
3. Choose a gift from your child to the new baby
Yes, this can be free too! As all children know, a present is a present because of the wrapping paper. So, a lovely thing to do is to ask your child to pick one of their toys that they no longer want – ideally a baby toy that they feel they have grown out of – and together you and your child can wrap the toy, ready to give to the baby. Because the fun is in the unwrapping, and because the newborn baby clearly isn’t going to be opening the present, you can also let your child do the honours of unwrapping the gift on the baby’s behalf.
4. A gift to your child from the new baby
It seems to be a new tradition in many families that the baby also gives a present to their sibling. Parents hope it may ease some of the feelings of displacement a child may feel when a new baby arrives in the family. You could go and buy a new toy for your child, and wrap it as if from the baby. However, in our experience, children rarely focus on where the present comes from – their focus is on opening it! So, with that in mind, you could ask friends with an older child to pass on one of their favourite toys that they have grown out of.
Kath Sloggett from The Neo Practice says “The two daughters of our very close family friends each gave my son their favourite baby toy and it is so lovely to share that link with them – and 4 years later those toys are still much loved by both my children”.
5. Get your gift list organised
While Kate and Wills may have smiled outwardly at receiving the world’s largest teddy bear for George (from the Australian Prime Minister), most parents would rather not have something cuddly taking up much needed space. It is often hard for family and friends to find gifts to give to a second child, especially if they are of the same gender.
One useful tip is to mention to people that you’d really like their time and effort instead of gifts – for example, a home cooked meal. Ideally delivered in the first few weeks of baby’s arrival home and choose a meal that can be frozen and defrosted easily. With two children to get fed and to bed (often a battle) – the new babies tending to want to cluster feed in the evening just as mum is hoping to relax – new parents often feel very grateful for delicious food that they can just heat up.
If your family and friends are not nearby or, like the Queen, may not have the time to do the cooking, vouchers from Cook (www.cookfood.net) are a great alternative gift. They have meals that are family-friendly, fresh or frozen, and also toddler meals. Vouchers let you decide which meals you want as you go along.
A treat excursion for your older child can also be a great gift. Grandma, or perhaps a good friend, can take your child out for a few hours of one-on-one attention. It could be as simple as a walk in the park or a visit to the local pet store but when it’s with someone different, it can be exciting for little ones. And Grandmas seem to be especially good at spoiling new big brothers and sisters with an occasional cake or ice cream. This is what we call a win-win-win treat as your older child and, the willing volunteer, can have a fun time together, and the new parents can get some quality time (and some rest) with the new baby.
6. Practise taking the easy route
All parents feel guilty at some point in their parenting experience. If you are pregnant, you may already be feeling like you aren’t as nimble or active as you were before. Perhaps you are feeling like your child is missing out on park time or time spent with you playing on the floor, either because you’re feeling nauseous and tired or because you are feeling uncomfortable as the pregnancy progresses. Parent often tell us that that guilt carries on after the baby arrives, and then parents feel torn in two – forever making quick-fire assessments as to who needs you most and leaving one child to wait. Partners, sadly, are usually left till last.
The new Royal parents may have staff aplenty but we expect that they will be just as guilt-ridden as many other second time parents. So, with a new baby on the way, now is the time to be flexible on some of your self-imposed standards – be kind to yourself and remember that good enough is exactly that, good enough!
While you are pregnant, take the occasional afternoon or morning off activities and have a PJ morning or a lazy afternoon at home. It’s good for toddlers to spend time pottering, without organised activities, as it stimulates their creativity and gives them space to play and learn. It’s also good practise for those times when you may not have the energy to get out of the house with a newborn.
Once the baby arrives, even the staunchest anti-screen parents often discover that CBeebies is not a bad word and the occasional mini session of screen time* is a saviour. Many also discover that their toddler’s timings can move about a bit to accommodate the baby without causing complete chaos, and neither child actually needs a bath every day. It may only be for a month or two as you all settle in together, or it might be for longer. Either way, this is not forever, and once you are all sleeping more and you have life more under control, you can revert to your old ship-shape standards.
* Experts are undecided on the impact of screen time on children under 2 years old. Some experts recommend no screen time for this age group, others say that short sessions of up to 15-20 minutes are fine.
Post first published by the Neo Practice on 20th April 2015. See the original post here.
If you want more personalised in-depth assistance in preparing for the arrival of your second baby, Neo Practice is currently offering Bubele users an exclusive 10% discount on their 1-day course, Welcoming Baby Number 2:
7th Jun 2015: Kensington – BOOK
14th Jun 2015: Crystal Palace – BOOK
5th Jul 2015: Balham – BOOK