October 31, 2008,
M.S. asks from Ocean City, MD on October 29, 2008
Introducing New Baby to My 20 Month Old
Seeking suggestions to ease the transition of a new baby for my 20 month old. My son has been the center of our universe for almost two years. I need to find a balance between still giving him the attention, and of course love and support he needs, while also bonding with our one week old. To add to the stress, I also want to help my son "like" his new sister - if that is possible!
B.D. answers from Pittsburgh on October 29, 2008
Something we did when my 2nd was born, we had gifts from the baby. When my oldest came to visit us at the hospital, there were gifts that the baby 'brought with her'. We also brought her new toys to play with while visiting us at the hospital. That way she was entertained and not forgotten. It was a special time for her too.
At home Dad would take care of the baby so we could have time together. Bedtime stories were something we always enjoyed doing together. Other times we would paint or do a craft together.
Now they are a little older and play well together.
L.B. answers from Philadelphia on October 30, 2008
I have 3 children. The best advice I got when transitioning from 1 to 2 is "FOCUS ON YOUR OLDEST CHILD." He needs to know that you still love him. The new baby is an infant and doesn't know what's going on yet. Don't worry...you will definitely have a bond with the baby. But focus on your oldest child until he's comfortable. Make sure that he knows how much you love him, because it will be quite traumatic for him to "share" Mommy and Daddy with someone else.
Best of luck and it will all work out.
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M.B. answers from Philadelphia on October 30, 2008
My first 2 are 22 months apart and the next 2 are just shy of 3 years apart. We did many things to help the transition:
1) Start before the baby is born with transitioning your son to the "big boy" role - let him climb up into his carseat or chair himself, go get things mommy needs, etc. Make getting bigger something special for him so it's not something he's forced into because there's a new baby.
2) I know people feel differently on this, but I always let my older children come and visit in the hospital. I made sure that the baby was in the bassinet when the older one(s) came in so my arms were open to hug them, and I also always had pictures of my older ones with me in the hospital and even in the bassinet.
3)I was in the hospital for 3-4 days with each (c-sections), and I made sure to call the older ones each night before bed (sometimes other times as well), and daddy was home for tuck in to keep things as normal as possible.
4) I also left a small gift for each from me for each day I was in the hospital. They were inexpensive things, but I also tried to include some craft or activity they could do to pass the time with their grandparents.
5) When I came home, I made an effort to include the older one(s) with the baby, but didn't force it. When my second was born, my oldest didn't even want to get into family pics with us, and I didn't force her to do it. I let her come around in her own time (happened pretty quickly).
6) I tried to set apart some special big girl time every day, during one of the baby's naps. It doesn't have to be much - even 10 minutes reading or doing a simple craft - as long as it's just for her.
7) I made a point of sometimes telling the baby "You have to wait while I help your sister" - even if the baby doesn't particularly need you right then, it will be meaningful to your son to hear he comes first sometimes.
8) Before sitting down to feed the baby, I always made sure to get my older one(s) a drink and snack as well. It helps occupy them and know their needs are important too.
9) While we couldn't always manage the exact same bedtime routine as before the baby came, my husband and I would alternate doing the big kid bedtime so we could keep it as consistent as possible. On the rare occasions that the baby cooperated, we would both do it.
I'm sure there are lots of other things we did. Since you're already thinking about it, I'm sure you'll do just fine and your son will do great. Just give him time. That age gap, though hard at the beginning, is actually great as they'll quickly become best buddies. Good luck and hope some of that helps!
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A.J. answers from Williamsport on October 30, 2008
Congrats on the new baby! Of course it's possible! Welcoming my new baby home to my two year old was amazing, even though I secretly had pulled heartstrings about not having my first all to myself anymore. I heard stories of jealousy and problems from people, but I would never buy into the theory that the new sibling could be a detriment to the first. If it's not in your mind, it won't be in his. But I took some precautions anyway.
I told my daughter during the last month or so that a baby was coming, and it was her baby too and I would need her help and got her excited about it. Then I gave my first daughter just as much praise and attention for everything if not more once the baby arrived. At first she ignored the baby, which I let her do, and just continued to give her tons of love, then whenever she did touch the baby or anything I would gush about the baby loving her and what a good big sister she was. She was never hostile to or about the baby, but I would have stepped in with firm discipline if she was.
After only a few weeks, she was not letting me leave a room without reminding me not to forget the baby.
just shower love on your son, include him in "helping" as in even if he just hands you a wipe or touches the baby, he's HELPING and being a good brother. Make it fun for him too keep the atmosphere about this being a happy present for everyone.
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M.A. answers from Philadelphia on October 30, 2008
My cousin asked her pediatrician this same question and this was his response...
When you're coloring with your son and the baby cries, say to the baby (for the benefit of your son), "Hold on a minute dear, I'm coloring with your brother, but will be right there." Then stay by your son's side for 10 seconds longer. He will feel like he means just as much to you as this new little one. When you are changing the baby's diaper and your son wants your attention, do the same thing. Say, "Hold on a minute dear, I'm changing your sister's diaper, and I'll be right with you."
My cousin has four children now, and she said that doing this was a life saver. She still had moments of tantrums and such, but it calmed everyone down more times than not.
Also, take a few moments everyday to have special mommy-son time without the baby. My sister-in-law would sometimes climb into bed with her oldest for a few minutes at bedtime, allowing her child to talk about anything they wanted to... their day, their sister, dad, mom, neighbor, toys, movies, etc. This time shouldn't be a "fix the problem" time, but just a "listening to your child talk" time. By doing this when they're young, they learn that they can talk about their thoughts and feelings without mom or dad getting mad at them.
About your son liking his new sister, don't force the issue, but be light-hearted about loving each other. Also, let his express his "dislike" if he doesn't like her, and talk about why he doesn't like her. Siblings have their good days and bad days, for sure, but if children feel love from their parents, for the most part I think they will like their siblings as they grow older.
I hope that gives you some good ideas!
K.W. answers from Scranton on October 31, 2008
My son was 20 months old when our daughter was born. I take it that your daughter is already home with you. Congrats! Listen, it is stressful at first, but once you get into a routine, you'll be fine. I used to have my son help me get diapers for the baby and reward him for helping. It made him feel really important and gave him an active role so that I was interacting with both at the same time.
I also used to make sure that when the baby was sleeping, that I read him a book (to keep him quiet and to bond with him). One that he really loved was "I'm A Big Brother". It is a blue book and I believe the author is Cole. It talks about how babies are different and can't do the same things as big boys and that he will also be special because he is the only him, but now, he's even more special because he is a big brother now.
I do remember 1 occasion when he felt jealous and flipped out. I did breastfeed both my kids (until age 1) and one day when I was feeding my daughter, my son wanted to sit on my lap. I tried to explain that he would have to wait and he didn't care. He freaked out crying and then she started crying and then I started crying. We all sat there bawling our eyes out until I pulled it together.
The key is to integrate him into her life. When she is a bit older and can play with toys, he can help play with her. Now though, he can help watch her. You can look at the baby and talk about her body parts, how much you love both of your babies, and especially tell him stories about when he was a baby. My son loves to say, remember when I was a baby, I used to do that too?!
With #3 on the way, due when #2 is 21 months old, I can tell you that I know it is stressful because I'm stressed just thinking about it. But, don't worry. Enjoy this time with your newborn. Your son will love your daughter because he will see that you love her and you still love him.
B.W. answers from Erie on October 30, 2008
When we brought our 2nd child home, we celebrated the event by buying a cool age appropriate toy for the older sibling. We inspected the baby together, and big sister helped at diaper time, by handing me supplies, baby wipes, diapers, etc. You can even let your 20 month old help wipe the baby's bottom after you know it's clean. If he becomes something of a caregiver, he's partnering with you, and bonding with his little sister at the same time.
he will no doubt like her as a toy in his world. He will also not like her at times, and that's okay, but he may not hurt her. He will also climb in her carseat when you aren't looking, play with her toys, etc . . . cuz he is interested in what she does, and the fact that babies get SO MUCH attention. If you have pictures of him as a baby, maybe you guys can look at the baby album and talk about what he was like as a baby. When you feed the baby, read books together on the couch. Babies require a ton of attention, and it can be hard on the the older child, but 2 year olds also tend to be very fascinated with babies and you can capitalize on that curiosity.
there will also be times, when you simply have to put the aby down, tears and all, and deal with your son. Finding the balance is something you will work toward, and it's kind of an individual space between you and your kids. Everyone probably does it differently, because we have different psychological make-ups, and so do our children. The fact that you want to meet the needs of your son, and make sure he knows he is loved, that you're thinking about it enough to ask questions, too, tells me you have the tenacity to succeed at it !
Enjoy both your children ! Life is going to be VERY VERY tiring for a while, but do your best with the energy that you have. Sleep will come again . .. sometime !! :-)
N.M. answers from Philadelphia on October 30, 2008
I am sure a lot depends on your 20 month old's personality. My boys are 17 months apart and I never really had any issues. I was fortunate that a lot of people who came to see the new baby brought small gifts for the big brother. I also made it a point to spend as much one on one time with my oldest as possible. In the beginning there is a lot of time when the newborn is sleeping. I also let him help out where possible. I think you will be suprised how close they will become. My boys are the best of friends. I am so glad they are so close in age.
A.S. answers from Allentown on October 30, 2008
I think the 2 biggest things are not to make the baby a big no-no. Let him be involved, let him check her out, let him help if he wants. Secondly, make sure you make time for him every day and aren't constantly saying "wait, I'm with the baby" or something along those lines. Every once in a while, make it a point to say to the baby, "you need to wait, your big brother needs me now". That may mean the baby is crying, but as long as it's not an 'emergency' type cry the baby will be just fine.