If you are expecting another baby, I’m sure you would have imagined introducing your newborn to your other children in the hospital. Perhaps you thought of your toddler cuddling your newborn in your hospital bed with dad operating the camera, ready to capture the perfect moment for eternity, or anticipated them peeping into the clear hospital bassinet with a big grin.
Current visitor restrictions in many hospitals in Sydney right now impact the way older siblings meet a new baby for the first time. So many parents I work with can be really sad and worried about this, and this grief is valid. However, there are some benefits to making this introduction at home.
I certainly anticipated the perfect introduction of a new sibling when I had each of my four boys, but the reality was not nearly as idyllic.
Despite my high hopes, this is what really happened. While I lay with my new baby in the ward, I could hear my toddlers the minute they got out of the...
One of the things parents expecting a second baby are often visualising in the lead up to the birth is the moment their older child and newborn will meet for the first time.
Chubby toddler hands gently holding onto the clear hospital crib looking at their new sibling, a magic moment that many mums picture though the nine long months of pregnancy and all of its ups and downs.
After all, one of the reasons we have more than one child is often because we want to provide a sibling for our older child.
Our subconscious vision is for siblings who will be allies for life, a shoulder to cry on, someone to help you move house, and share adventures with. A friend who will always be there.
In addition, something rarely talked about is how a mother may be feeling in this moment. Her first child is the baby that opened up her heart to motherhood and the idea of another person being able to hold as much space can feel overwhelming.
Many mums feel anywhere from a tinge of sadness to a great...
When I had my second baby I had read and heard two things about smoothing the transition for my older son:
Don’t have the baby in your arms when your older child visits in hospital, and
Get him a present from the baby.
It seemed reasonable and that was the full extent of my preparation to becoming a mum of two.
If you asked me now, was that enough preparation? I would say no.
It’s not that these things are wrong, it’s that I wasn’t aware of how big the transition would be for my child and how to help him. Without this understanding when his behaviour got tricky (which is so normal at two, or three or four) I viewed the problem as his behaviour – not the need for connection with me.
I survived the year that followed the birth of my second child. Just.
Then I watched friends struggle though, and now through my work so many parents tell me that their experience was the same as mine: Hard, lonely and confusing.
The addition of a new baby into a family is always a big change: but a second, or third baby can be a particularly rocky transition for the child that used to be ‘the baby’.
The older child, very often a toddler - has just had their world ROCKED but doesn’t have the words to wrap around how they are feeling.
Parents are adjusting as well. There is increased sleep deprivation, physical healing, increased pressure on relationships, and often with one parent needing to take time off to care for the baby there is increased financial pressure as well.
Despite all of this pressure every single parent I meet though my work is so focussed on helping their older child with the adjustment, the number one question they want to know is: ‘how can I make sure my older child doesn’t feel left out?
The answers lie in connection, boundaries and being with big feelings. Here are my top five tips:
Most parents will be familiar with the sound of siblings fighting, bickering and squabbling; the build up of tension is often audible from another room, soon enough one child is yelling, “THAT’S MINE!” …. The scream and then very often…. a WHACK.
When I work with parents of two or more kids and ask about the thing they are struggling with the most in their family life the number one answer is siblings fighting.
One of the greatest hopes many parents have is for their children to be friends. Beyond not enjoying the constant sound of screaming & bickering on a day-to-day basis many parents share a deeper hope that the humans they’re raising will - one day - be there for each other when we are not.
Our subconscious vision is for siblings who will be allies for life, a shoulder to cry on, someone to help you move house, share adventures with and even be a best man or maid of honour at a wedding.
Published in Kidspot this month, Genevieve's tips for welcoming a second baby.
When I had my second baby I had heard only two things were needed for a smooth transition - don’t have the baby in your arms when your older child visits in hospital and get him a present from the baby.
This advice is at best not helpful, and at worst leaves you completely unprepared for the changes at play when introducing a new baby into the house.
What I wish someone had told me was that the introduction to a new baby isn’t about the union in hospital, it is about connection, boundaries and spending time with your toddler. For more click here
As published on MAMAMIA
Shortly after I had given birth to my third son, I went up to the local post office to collect a package.
I was at the counter with my three- and five-year-old boys, and my newborn asleep in the pram.
Just quietly I was feeling pretty freaking proud to be out, with THREE kids in a post office (which, if you ask anyone who has had three under five, is no mean feat.) Life was good.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” The lady serving me asked, eyeing my two boys and the pram.
I proudly drew back the muslin wrap to reveal my beautiful bundle and said: “This is Tom!”
The look on the woman’s face was pure disappointment. She grabbed my hands in hers, looked at me with big sad eyes and said: “Don’t worry, you are young, and you can try again!"
I immediately looked down at my two older children. Two beautiful creatures who were standing by their new baby brother, with a fresh look of doubt in their eyes.
Gen with her...
The creator of Calmbirth, Peter Jackson, once told me something I’ve never forgotten.
He said ‘the sound of a newborn crying can be likened to the sound of a smoke alarm going off. They make the same sound whether you’ve burnt the toast or the whole kitchen is on fire.’
I spent the next decade soothing four boys while they cried saying to myself…….. “it’s just the toast.”
This seemed to help me to feel less panicked when my babies cried.
The average healthy newborn cries around 1-2 hours a day at birth, yet many new parents find this level of crying pretty rattling – especially when it’s happening in the middle of the night as is most common in the first weeks .
Tracking forward a few weeks what many parents don’t know is that the peak of...
One of the most challenging aspects of the first few months of parenting a newborn is infant crying.
Most parents I meet who have just had their first baby say that nothing could have prepared them for how the sound of their own baby crying would make them feel. They describe feelings of helplessness, fear and frustration when their babies cry.
Our babies’ cries are designed by nature to sound distressing to us. This ensures we wake in the night to feed and care for them. But the view we hold about whether crying is normal, and what our role is when responding to crying affects how much the crying distresses us.
For a variety of reasons, well before they even hold their own newborn, parents have often absorbed the message that when a baby cries it’s the parent’s job to work out what’s wrong … and fix it.
This is probably the most unhelpful message we can give parents about crying because it makes parents feel more distressed...
All kids struggle with transitions.
These can be the daily struggles of moving from the dinner table to the bath, or the bigger changes that impact our child's sense of security like a house move, daycare change, or the big one - welcoming a new baby into the family.
The struggle that kids have with transitions and change points happens for a for a variety of reasons, but know this:
It is so normal for it to be a daily battle getting kids into the car, out of the bath and all the rest. It is our children's job to struggle with these moments, the struggle is how they grow their brains. It is our job to be bigger, stronger, wise and kind - all the things they need to support them with transitions.
Tips for daily transitions.
We all know that feeling. It's time to get in the car and your child is really enjoying some LEGO. You know what is coming when you tell them to stop doing what they enjoy and get in the car..... As hard as this is for parents our...
These comprehensive, learn at your own pace courses give you access at any time to videos, audios and documents that covers the core areas of development when reaching these milestone moments as a parent or grandparent.
Join our waitlist.