Bringing Home the Second Baby
Tips from a Mother of Three
How will our only child adjust to being a big brother?
How will I do with two, and later three, young kids?
Our days, our camera roll, our everything revolved around our first born. We knew that once we brought home “Baby MacDos,” it would be up to our oldest to let us know how those early days would go.
Coming from large families on either side, we knew that they would have fun together and grow up with a lifetime friend. But we also feared our eldest’s reaction because of one too many stories from individuals who told us their not-so-positive Bringing Home Baby stories.
Now as a mother of three and a birth doula, I’ve collected some no-pressure tips that I applied to my family and have advised over the years to ease the transition to becoming parents of more than one child.
Read books about becoming an older sibling.
Keep the books together and make a basket mixed with your child’s favorites. Read throughout pregnancy and in the early postpartum days when you are sitting and resting frequently. This is a perfect time to enrich their growing brain and get that cuddle time from Mom or Dad. (You can find some of our favorite books in our Amazon shop)
Have realistic expectations.
Don’t build up expectations of your kids’ reactions when they meet their newest sibling. Our gentle and sweet first born was sleep deprived and bewildered by the hospital environment he walked into when he met his new brother. Looking back, We realize just how bizarre and jostling that all can be. Your eldest could embrace their new sibling the moment they meet them, or it may be a process. Both are normal.
Allow and talk about all the emotions.
Speak your child’s love language.
My first born loves quality time. This speaks to him more than words or physical affection or gifts “from the baby.” When his sibling was born, we didn’t need to take elaborate trips out of the house. Quality time for us meant trips to the backyard while baby napped, and 15 minutes of pushing him on a swing and chatting. Our second born feels most at peace with physical touch, which made those story time cuddles that much more important.
Include them in the care of their newest sibling.
Maybe they can grab a “cuddle toy” for baby or turn on the sound machine. You know your babies best. Whatever would speak to their heart, ask them to join you in on that! When Baby MacDos became a big brother last year, he wanted to sing to the new baby. His choice of song? The Pirates of the Caribbean theme song. Maybe it wasn’t the song I would have chosen for that picture perfect moment, but it came from his heart and we let him express his love in his way.
Take a sibling class.
Many hospitals and birth centers offer sibling classes to help prepare for the new baby and to help spark conversation about the upcoming changes to the family dynamic. Sibling classes also offer an opportunity for the oldest child to spend quality one-on-one or one-on-two time with their parent.
Give yourself grace.
You just became a parent to a whole new person. Don’t let the fast paced culture we live in bend you into guilt-ridden sobs and negative thoughts over what you aren’t doing.
If getting your toddler in the car has taught you anything, it is that we can’t rush the process.
Embrace the whimsy of your child. Hold onto the weird blend of days as a new chapter in a grand adventure. One day, really soon, you’ll cherish that photo of your older child in his mismatched outfit and pout in the newborn photos. You’ll have a story to tell and it might even be your favorite photo among the files of perfectly posed pictures.
Doula, Babymoon Inn
Raquel is a mother to three boys and a certified Babymoon Inn Doula. She loves working in her community to reach and educate new parents on all things birth and postpartum care.