2 is more than 1!
2 is more than 1!
Someone once explained the feelings of the first child when you bring home the younger sibling as if your spouse brought home a new lover. “Oh don’t worry honey I still love you even though I’m spending so much attention on the little pooping machine!” And, “when you go to bed I’m up with the baby all night long playing without you! But I still love you, I promise.” Keep this in mind when dealing with older siblings during the new baby transition.
Here are 3 hacks I highly recommend to help the transition home with baby numero dos.
1. The first meeting of the siblings. I encourage families to see the older child alone first. If you are in the hospital this means greeting the older sibling outside of the room for a big hug and reunion. If this is at home it may look like the older sibling coming to the front door and saying hi before welcoming in the new baby. This helps avoid the feeling of being replaced or second fiddle.
2. What do you think your baby needs? Including the older sibling in lots of small decision making events will help the transition go smoothly. For instance, it is time for the baby to eat and the baby is fussy. You ask the older sibling “what do you think your baby needs?” They may answer or may be too young but either way you answer by saying something like “yes the baby needs to eat, are you hungry? Should we get you a snack? Let’s all eat together.” This will instantly make them feel loved and included. You can do this with just about anything. “Do you think the baby wants to sleep or nap or go to the bathroom?” If you can put the older child first in the order of events this is ideal.
3. Spend QT with your first child. I repeat quality time, not quantity. And this may sound silly but make sure you say out loud to them that this is special mommy/daddy - child time. It is important to do something that they want to do even if it is just 10 minutes. They should have your full attention, no cell phones or interruptions if possible. If you make it part of the schedule your child will look forward to this special time.
And one more thing! Remember you just had a baby! Your body is tired and your hormones are raging. Take some YOU time and ask for help! I feel like asking for help is my mantra! It takes a village.
Dr. Barbara Frank is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brookline Village OBGYN. She is also a faculty member of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Frank lives in Boston and is a wife and mom of two young children.