Welcoming baby number 2
When Joanne and Robert Reynolds* found out they were expecting, they were beyond excited.
Three and a half years later their bouncing baby boy was promoted to big brother, a few months before his fourth birthday. Talk about a great gift.
But the Reynoldses were concerned about the adjustment little Jacob had to make. Sooner than later, he started to notice a change in mommy's body and so both parents had to get him onboard the new-baby train and the list below is the guide they employed courtesy of parenting.com.
Breaking the news
Most parents find that it's best to keep it simple. You can tell your child, "When moms and dads love each other, they sometimes decide to have a baby." For a child under two and half years old, it's best to wait until the final trimester when you are really showing before giving notice. Telling him too early will be confusing since he has no sense of time. Connecting the due date with a holiday can also help "Your new brother or sister will be here in time for your birthday!"
Include your child
Take your child along to prenatal checkups with you so he can hear baby's heartbeat and watch the ultrasound pictures. When the baby kicks, have him touch your belly and introduce himself to the baby. Some hospitals now have classes for expectant siblings, so they can learn with other children what a new baby is like.
Talk for your baby. Parents can take advantage of the toddler's natural fascination with babies by explaining what you imagine the baby is thinking, such as "When Baby grabs you and holds on tight, she is telling you how much she loves you." These can make your toddler laugh and help him see his sibling as a real person.
Double the gifts
Savvy visitors who have survived sibling rivalry themselves, know to bring along a gift for the older child when visiting a new baby. But don't count on all of your friends to have this foresight. Before birth, wrap a few small gifts and reserve them for your toddler when friends lavish gifts on the new baby. You can also let him be the one to unwrap the baby gifts before he 'gives' the toy to his baby sibling. Keep in mind that you are now encouraging your toddler to have a change in mindset - from being a taker to becoming a giver - a valuable lesson in life that even a two-year-old can and should begin to learn.
Spread the praise
With all the attention heaped on your new baby, your toddler may feel neglected. We've always tried to extend any compliments to include our other children. When an admirer would say, "What a beautiful baby," we would add, "Now we have two beautiful children" or "And she has a beautiful big brother!"
It's admirable to say that you'll give each child equal amounts of your time, but it's unrealistic. New babies require a lot of maintenance, and you don't have 200 per cent of yourself to give. There are, however, easy ways to share with your toddler the time you spend caring for your baby. When feeding the baby, read a book to your toddler. Or place baby in an infant seat on the floor to watch while you play with her big brother or sister. As your infant gets a bit older, encourage your toddler to entertain her - making funny faces and noises is something both will love. Big toothless grins can be an incredible ego boost as your toddler thinks, "Hey, she likes me."
Daddy, daddy, daddy!
You can do double duty, but in the end, you'll still need to spend more time with the new baby. So it's important that while the older child feels he or she has lost some of mom, he or she gets more of dad. This is also the stage when a toddler may feel that mommy is no fun anymore, since she is tired all the time. (Sibling rivalry comes at a bad time for parents: Just as you are exhausted from adjusting to a new baby, you have to deal with an older child undergoing a personality change). Enter dad and outings to the park, the ice cream parlour, even the toy store. Reserve these one-on-one outings just for the older child. Remember that in children's perception of love, actions often speak louder than words.
Allow some frustration
Toddlers take it to heart when they don't get equal time. Many children ago we learnt that our job is not to keep our children free of frustrations, but to help them learn how to manage them. If your toddler becomes impatient, for example, set a time when you can give him your attention. ("Jimmy, you'll have to wait until I finish nursing Bobby, but then we can go to the park.")
Have 'just being' time
What helped was a custom we called "just being" time. Take time to let your toddler just be with you - on your lap, cuddling and talking while the new baby naps. Even 15 minutes a day of holding can make a difference.
Contributing editor William Sears, M.D., is the author with his wife, Martha Sears, R.N., of The Baby Book.