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Welcoming Baby Number Two

From our Katy family to yours–a few hints to make bringing home the new baby as seamless as possible

March 22, 2010 –Katy, TX –Being pregnant with my second child was considerably less blissful than my being pregnant the first time around.  Sure, I was sick more often the second time around (and those “slight” pains associated with Braxton Hicks were more intense), but  the thing that really plagued me, the unavoidable reality that haunted my thoughts at night, was the idea that I’d somehow have to find a way to split my love and loyalties between two children.

Big sister, Avery, holding newborn baby sister, Kate.

I adore my first child, Avery.  And while I was pregnant, I knew I would adore my second, Kate, as well.  And what new mother hasn’t heard the age old advice, “Once the second child is born you’ll understand how your heart can just swell to love both children equally.”?  Still, I had my doubts.

Besides my own doubts, I’d heard from friends that welcoming a second child into the world is significantly more challenging than the first.  The exhaustion and post-partum hormones are still in place, but added to that is the ongoing needs of your first.  I’m not one to take a challenge lying down, so I did some poking around for ideas on easing the transition from one child to two.

These ideas worked well for our family:

  • When my two year old came up to the hospital to meet the baby, we gave her a gift with a few disposable cameras to use and a Big Sister photo book she could carry around.  She delighted in taking pictures of the new baby, and when we first saw relatives and friends, we’d make a big deal out of her photo book before focusing on her baby sister.
  • I did some searching and found several picture books about becoming a new sister.  We inserted my oldest daughter’s name into the book instead of using the main character’s name, and Avery enjoyed being the star of the book.  She identified with the characters in the books and would sometimes reenact segments.
  • Avery had a Tinker Bell movie she really liked to watch, and we bought her a new and different Tinker Bell movie.  We talked to Avery about how the old Tinker Bell is special and the new Tinker Bell is special, and how Avery could love them both, just like Mom and Dad love the older sister and the new sister.  It was a little over her head as a two year old, but we referred back to it several times and I think it helped in the long run.
  • We got a stool to keep by the changing table and had her “help” change diapers and feed the baby anytime we used a bottle.  Any time Avery helped out, we were very verbal about how wonderful she was.  We admittedly overplayed it a bit, but Avery responded well to it and seemed to accept the baby willingly since she still felt clearly that she had an important role in our family.
  • I set a timer every day for 30 minutes of Avery-focused attention.  Even if the baby needed me, I would quickly respond and then get back to Avery.  During that time, she could choose to do anything at all, with Mommy’s full attention.  Once the baby got old enough, I began to do the same with Kate as well.  The children love their one on one time and I like having a measurable way to show each child how important they are to me.
    More than anything, I just had to be patient with Avery and let her work through her emotions.  And all of the classic advice I received?  It was all true.  I love Kate with as much passion and wholeheartedness and I love Avery.  And the best part of all: a year later, Kate is the best present I’ve ever given to her big sister!

What about you?  Did you find any hints especially helpful when welcoming your second child into the world?  Did the age of the child have an impact on how you handled the new baby?  Post your comment below!

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