By Fleur – Kids In Adelaide
Lately I’ve been receiving some valuable (and some hilarious) advice from friends and family about the best ways to cope once baby #2 comes along. As there will be around 18 months between our two kids, we are welcoming any helpful hints that will make life a little bit easier!
Here are some of the suggestions we’ve received so far….
1. Buy a special toy, such as an Etch-a-sketch, beautiful book or train for your first child. You could give it to them at the hospital to help make them feel special for being a big sister/brother.
2. Set aside a box of toys for your first child to play with only when you’re breastfeeding. Make them “special treat” toys. Try to choose ones that will keep them busy. You could add puzzles, blocks, colouring, reading, trains and so on. Perhaps even some snacks. If you can, have your older child sit with you for part of the breastfeeding time so it’s a special time for them too. Extra cuddles are always good. Also, don’t be surprised if they start pretending to breastfeed their dolls or teddy bears too! Funny in a kind of weird way I guess?
3. Buy wine NOW. Use a condom in the future. #thanksroxy
4. Make a big deal about the things your first child can do that a baby is too little to do yet. For example, playing on the swing, colouring, running, eating with their spoon, drinking from a cup, helping mummy and daddy. Take the time, where possible, to spend one-on-one time with your firstborn.
5. Remember that your first child may seem SO much older than your teeny tiny little newborn delight but they are still very young themselves. Treasure the time and don’t expect your first born to do things beyond their age.
6. Don’t expect #1 to feel overcome with joy about the arrival of #2 straight away.
7. As much as you are able to, try to stick to the routines you had established for your first child before the new baby came along. Continue the swimming lessons, library visits or kindergym. If you can, keep up the childcare days. This will help them to feel safe, secure and not too unsettled. It will also allow you to have time to connect with the baby. If you’re feeling up to it, you may even want to start a small new activity for your firstborn to make them feel special. Asking a grandparent to help out can also make it a special time for you all.
8. Find a good therapist. Haha! Totally joking (not joking).
9. Take up all helpful offers and don’t be afraid to ask for help either. Whether it’s dishes, laundry, shopping or taking the baby for a walk in the pram while you get some rest, it will all help.
10. Baby wearing! This is great for being hands-free when your toddler needs attention, or for shopping, outings, laundry, childcare pickups etc.
11. Try to make dinner ahead of time, perhaps in the morning when you have more energy. Making enough for two meals is a good way to get ahead.
12. Always have your day bag/nappy bag packed and ready to go! Sometimes you will just need to GET OUT of the house immediately!
13. Buy your older child a cheap doll so that they can change, burp and feed when you do the same with the new baby. This may or may not work, depending on your child. So far Elka has used her doll as a hammer, a paint brush and a broom. I am slightly worried for our new baby when it arrives!
14. Be flexible. Whereas you might have made sure your firstborn always slept in their bassinet and was slotted into a suitable routine as soon as possible, you may find that your second child has most of their sleeps in the baby carrier, pram or car while you’re trekking around with your firstborn.
15. Try out a breastfeeding pillow so that you have two free hands. This will help you with your older child- and will also allow you to use both hands to protect your baby from flying missiles launched by a tired toddler! FYI tired toddlers can have VERY accurate aims!
16. Don’t feel guilty about pulling out the iPad or turning on the TV if your toddler is really tired and likely to be naughty if they don’t have your full attention.
17. Try not to punch someone in the face if they tell you to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps.’ I mean really. Bwahaha!
18. Be proud. You will probably find yourself becoming somewhat of a superhero breastfeeding mum who is able to breastfeed in a variety of locations, positions and emotional states! Whether it’s while sitting on top of the toilet when your older child is having a bath, during dinnertime, while cooking, on the floor while creating the tallest Duplo tower on earth, or while you’re walking around the playground or shops: be proud!
19. Think positively. You may find that instead of hours of rocking, shooshing and cooing like you did with your precious first born, your second baby learns to self-settle more quickly. This will probably be due to the fact that you are so busy with your bustling toddler that you can’t respond as immediately to their cries. Don’t feel bad! You’re doing your best.
20. Get used to having surround-sound crying. You can guarantee that when one starts the other will too and there’s nothing like crying and screaming in stereo. If you can, record these moments on your phone for your husband to experience too, that’s a great way to bring the family together. Haha.
21. Sleep regression. You may find that your first born will decide to have a lovely little sleep regression when your new baby arrives. This is perfectly normal so try to give them the extra cuddles they need until they find their rhythm once again. It shouldn’t last too long. Remember this is a big change for them too.
22. Most importantly have a little cry if you need to. Remember those first few weeks can be pretty tough but a decent night’s sleep isn’t too far away… well, 4-5 hours sleep anyway!