It’s quite a universal response of first-borns to feel threatened by the news or arrival of a new addition to the family. Their world as they’ve known it all their life is changing and they have no control over it. While in many cases, first-borns look forward to becoming a sibling, it can be an emotional time for everyone involved. Welcoming Baby #2 does not mean that you won’t have time to spend with your first-born, it just means you’ll have to be a little more creative about how you share yourself among them. Here are some ideas on making time for your first born after a new baby.
Let them help
The arrival of the new baby may make your first-born feel displaced. Help them combat these feelings by letting them help where they can with the baby. Offer them a spoon to help at meal times or let them get hands on changing baby’s nappy. You can also designate them a special job like reading to the baby before nap-time. Make sure that during that time, the focus is on your first-born and acknowledge how helpful they’re being. This will serve as another great way of spending time together.
Designate separate toy areas
Your first child will experience inevitable feelings of displacement once the new baby comes home. Limiting the amount of shared items will help your older one understand that the arrival of a sibling does not naturally mean they no longer have their own place. Dedicating an area in the house for just their toys and activities may help with this. Find some space in your home (that you can afford to lose) and dedicate it to your first child’s favourite activities and toys. Maybe they can help pick out some new accessories like a desk and chair or a new shelf. Let Them help with the set up of it. Make them feel as involved as possible and ensure they understand it’s their corner. If you want to take it a step further you can also create a similar space for the new addition and let them help with that, too. This is not meant to isolate them from each other and does not eliminate a shared space where they can (eventually) play together but carves out spaces for each of them to have time to themselves.
Schedule activities they enjoy
Think about some of the activities your first-born likes and make realistic plans to schedule them in. Consider switching it up to accommodate the environment or circumstances when the situation arises- for instance, when the baby is sleeping. If they enjoy doing crafts, pull out the craft box and encourage them to make some crafts for the baby nursery or to display. Provide them with a choice of activities and let them lead the direction of the project with your guidance. They will enjoy having control over the activity and expressing their creativity. Not only does this allow you to spend quality time with them doing something stimulating and productive, it will keep them occupied should the new arrival interrupt.
Go On Adventures
Depending on your circumstances, you may not feel quite ready to leave your baby alone in the first few months. However, once you feel ready to take that step, plan adventures with your first-born that are specially for you two. Whether it be to a cafe for a milkshake or a more adventurous trip like going to a soft-play or play park, your first-born will appreciate the quality time spent together. Not only will this help to instil their confidence in your bond but will also create special memories.
Hugs and cuddles
This is probably the easiest to do. Hugs and cuddles, cuddles and hugs. As your arms get fuller and your first-born gets older, these spontaneous bouts of affection may happen less naturally or even less frequently. Even if you’re using down-time from the baby to get some much deserved rest, scoop up your first-born for a snuggle and enjoy some quiet time together. Not only will they treasure the close physical contact it may help to quell any feelings of jealousy watching you cuddle up to the baby.
Spend as much time as you can
It may be easier said than done but spending as much time as you can with your first-born is crucial to maintaining their sense of security which is inevitably challenged by a new arrival. Especially when that new arrival is adorable, small and chubby and everyone is coming over to “see the baby”. Life with a child can be unpredictable, let alone two. Any small snippets of time you can muster with your first-born will make all the difference. It doesn’t have to be large or time-consuming events or adventures; it can be a little tickle time on the rug or a quick story on the sofa.
Time with you is all that will matter.