Your life changes drastically when you have your first child — everything shifts to revolve around this tiny baby that depends completely on you. It may seem like you have finally gotten used to the change when you choose to have a second child. For me personally, the most difficult adjustment was going from one child to two.
I’ve been through this type of adjustment not once, but three times! I have four kids that were born within the span of five and a half years. At one point in my life, I had four kids in diapers/pull-ups at the same time. Based on my experience, I have some tips and tricks that can help you navigate this transition like a pro.
At first, every day is a new day with new challenges. It can be tough and the first month will be the hardest, but I promise it’ll get easier.
At that point, you’ll start to settle into a routine and get a feel for each sibling’s personality. Whatever your first child was like as a baby, just know that your second may be completely different. As their personalities develop, you can adjust to what each needs. Like so many other aspects of parenting, being flexible is key.
Address jealousy: Welcoming a new baby home is a big change for an older sibling. Many will develop jealousy during this time, which is natural. They’re used to your undivided attention. To help minimize this, try involving the older child with caring for the baby. You can give them tasks based on their developmental level, like handing you wipes when you change the baby’s diaper. This will help them feel involved.
Involve the family: Depending on the age of the older sibling, it’s important to make sure extended family engages with them. If family is coming over to visit, ask them to acknowledge the older sibling first and then move on to the new baby.
Find a routine: After a couple weeks, find your routine. This will not only help you accomplish everything you need, but also will help both siblings adjust. Having a routine is significantly more important once you have two children to take care of.
Determine your goals: Now that there are two children to take care of, you should think about your goals as a family and adjust your routine accordingly. This may mean streamlining your ideal routine because you simply can’t do everything. For me, I preferred to clean up all toys daily, but sacrificed that for a while. It was something that could wait so I could focus on caring for my young children.
Alternate your attention: Kids have different needs at different times in their lives. Sometimes one kid is going to need more attention than the other and that will ebb and flow. As a parent, you’ll have to adjust as their needs change. Keep in mind that some kids will demand attention and some won’t, so use your parental gut feeling.
Don’t panic about regression: Your older child may regress developmentally when a baby comes into the home and it may not happen right away. This is normal and how you should react depends on what your child is doing. Your response can be as simple as doing what they’re asking, like tying their shoes, to give them the attention they need and move on. Or you may need to remind them that this is something they already know how to do. Be conscious of regression and talk to your doctor about how to best address it.
Don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician about any of these things! Not only are we professionals who can help with the physical health of your child, but we can also help with the mental health of your child and parenting questions. It’s important to keep in mind that we’re people, and often parents, just like you. Ask away.