5 Tips for Transitioning from One to Two
There is something so inherently special about your first child. Each new experience, challenge, joy, and milestone is the first time you're experiencing it, and it's wild!
Often, the second time around will never be like the first. You are so focused on taking care of your older child that time seems to pass so quickly, and before you know it, your second child is 1 years old and you realize you haven't even started their baby book!
Parents often worry what life will be like when their second baby comes along.
Will my first feel neglected? Jealous?
Will they fight over my affection? Will they fight over toys?
What if they just don't like each other?
How will I possibly get anything done!
These, and other thoughts, are common worries that so many parents face when expecting baby #2, or when adopting a new member into the family.
Don't fret. There's lots of simple ways that you can prepare for your next bundle of joy....
High Country Doula's Top 5 Tips for Transitioning From One to Two
1. Prenatal Sibling Bonding
When you break the news to your big kid that brother or sister is on the way, try to focus the conversation on their "here and now" world. Small children have little capacity for understanding the future or other people's emotions, so it may be hard for them to understand what this means in the big picture.
Get them involved as early as you like and make it fun!
Have them help you pick out clothes and baby toys if they enjoy shopping. If they enjoy giving presents, have them pick out special things that they can give the baby as a gift when he/she is born or comes home.
Buy them a shirt that says "big brother," or "big sister," to make them feel proud and associate that feeling of joy for what's to come.
2. Read special books during PREGNANCY
There are lots of children's books that help prepare siblings about having a new brother/sister. And there's lots of cool books written for kids about pregnancy and birth too. This can be a very special way to bond and prepare your big kid for what's happening now and what's to come.
Here's a list of children's books on Amazon that relate to this special time.
3. A joyous Introduction
When the baby is born or adopted, consider giving a gift to big brother/sister addressed from their new sibling. You can put it in the baby's crib in the hospital or at home for when it's introduction time. Make a big deal out of it:
"Look, what's this! Layla got someone a present. I wonder whose it is?!"
Different kids have different love languages. Maybe your big kid isn't that into gifts, maybe they just want some one on one time with their new brother or sister. Try to give lots of early opportunities for bonding through supervised holding/cuddling. Speak for your new baby using joyous phrases, "Oh, look at that August, Layla LOVES when you hold her, she say's you are so fun to snuggle with!"
4. Preparing for postpartum
There's no getting around it. Going from 1 to 2 during postpartum WILL be hard. The laundry will not get done, the meals will be simple and quick, and the "me time," will go from small to minuscule....but it won't last forever, AND it doesn't have to be torture.
As un-American as it sounds; ASK FOR HELP.
Make a list of friends and family who live close by and can lend a hand whenever possible during the early months.
Also utilize the expertise of a Postpartum Doula.
Postpartum doulas are on the frontlines of family life. They work with families to help them establish systems and create a plan for those difficult days at home with a new baby and an older child(ren). Moms and Dads are well aware of the fact that things aren't getting done and that they are exhausted, but they don't quite know what needs to be modified so that most everyone's needs are met.
Postpartum doulas help you:
- Gain confidence and assurance as a new parent
- Get the rest needed to recover after birth
- Learn newborn skills and get help establishing routines with your baby
- Receive guidance for breast/bottle-feeding
- Get more sleep with a part-time, overnight, or live-in doula
- Lower your chances of postpartum depression and get comforting support if you are struggling
- Enjoy parenthood with more help and less stress
- Help with meal preparation & light housekeeping
- Help feel siblings included and cared for while you give your new baby the care it needs too
A postpartum doula's favorite job is to help make home life easier for parents and their families. Doulas work in the home to learn mom's and the family's most pressing needs. When needs are established, a postpartum doula assists families in meeting those needs and in return, every member of the family benefits.
For most parents, your most pressing needs are sleeping, eating, showering and positive social support. A postpartum doula provides moms and dads time to get some well needed rest, prep & make nutritious meals ahead, engage & respond to siblings needs, listen & troubleshoot feeding or newborn issues, & ensure that everyone has clean shirts to wear.
5. Expect a New normal
Quite simply; life will never be the same whenever a new member joins the family. That's the beauty of life. It helps us adapt, evolve, and grow as people and as family units. Accept each challenge as an opportunity for growth...for everyone!
Trust that in time you will fall into new routines, new patterns, and a new normal.
You've got this!
Featured Image by Wayfaring Wanderer