A new baby in the family
Coping with two children is very different to coping with one. It can be difficult at first, especially if your first child is young. It is more than double the work, and dividing your time and attention can be a strain. But you have experience of looking after a baby, and probably more confidence, which will help.
It takes time to adjust to being a bigger family and caring for more than one child. Your older child (or children) has to adjust too, and some find this difficult. You may find that your older child is jealous or becomes attention seeking. It’s important to spend one-to-one time with them.
The following suggestions may also help:
- Try to keep up previous routines and activities. Going to playgroup, visiting friends and telling a bedtime story might be difficult in the first few weeks, but sticking to established routines will help reassure your older child.
- Understand that your older child might not love the baby at first. They may not feel the way you do. It’s lovely if they share your pleasure, but don’t expect it.
- Be prepared to cope with extra demands. Your older child may want more attention. A grandparent may be able to help out, but they’ll still need one-to-one time with you so that they don’t feel as if they’ve been forgotten.
- Encourage your older child to take an interest. Children don’t always love babies, but they do find them interesting. You can encourage this by talking to them about what they were like as a baby and the things they did. Get out their old toys and show them photos.
- Provide distractions during feeds. An older child may feel left out and jealous when you’re feeding the baby. Find something for them to do, or use the feed as an opportunity to tell them a story or have a chat.
- Be patient with babyish behaviour. Your older child might ask for a bottle, start wetting their pants or want to be carried. This is completely normal behaviour, so try not to let it bother you and don’t say no every time.
- Expect some jealousy and resentment. It’s almost certain to happen. Ask for help from your partner, a grandparent or a friend to give yourself time alone with each child. This will help you balance the demands put on you.
- Encourage your child to get involved with the baby. Turn looking after the baby into a fun game and encourage your child to talk to the baby.
Published Date 2010-12-15
Last Review Date 2009-07-28