Ask Nanny Louenna: How to Help Your First-Born Cope When Baby #2 Comes Along
Nanny Louenna is currently working as a Freelance Temporary Nanny, Childcare Consultant and Maternity Nurse. She has graduated from one of the most exquisite colleges for nannies, Norland College in Bath, with the highest award. Louenna has also launched a childcare app where she will share all her knowledge on topics such as weaning, potty training and looking after a newborn! You can download it here. You can also follow Louenna on Instagram.
Our 'Ask Nanny Louenna' blog series brings an exclusive opportunity to get advice and tips from one of the most desired nannies out there.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. You are the best parent for your child and only you can make loving and wise parenting decisions by knowing your child and your unique family situation.
Whether you're about to add a child to your family or already have two (or more) little ones, how they get along is probably on your mind and part of my role as a maternity nurse is to help introduce older siblings to their new baby brother or sister. Here are my top tips for your growing family:
01 The start to any good sibling relationship starts before the new little ones even arrives. It’s important to not make too much fuss about the impending arrival and how it will affect your other children. It’s important to talk to your child in a positive way about the baby in your tummy to get them excited about what is to come.
02 Read an age-appropriate story about a new baby coming into the family, children like to use stories to help understand new situations. My favourites are Topsy and Tim and The New Baby by Jean and Gareth Adamson.
03 The first meet between your little ones is so important and whether it’s at the hospital or home it can be important to still give your current child equal attention. I would recommend that the first time your child meets his new brother or sister, that you shouldn’t be holding the baby, having them in a cot or moses basket means that you can still give your child a cuddle with you before going to see the baby.
04 Let your child touch the baby and have a cuddle – don’t make the baby seem more precious than them. I know toddlers can sometimes be heavy-handed but take their hand and stroke the baby on the legs reminding them to be gentle and they will soon learn how to stroke their little brother or sister.
05 I like to point out the baby’s tiny fingers and toes and show the older child how soft and delicate the baby’s skin is. Newborn babies have an innate grasp reflex to grip your finger if you put it in the palm of their hands, so I take the older child’s finger and show them how to get the baby to hold their hand. Older children always love this, and I always praise them about how special it is that their baby wants to hold their hand – this is the start of building a special connection.
06 If your first born is still quite young, it could be beneficial to tell your child that the baby is their baby rather than mummy’s baby – that way when people come to visit, your child can proudly show them their baby, rather than feeling jealous that everyone is coming to see mummy and daddy’s new baby.
07 Another great way for them to connect is getting your child to hold your newborn. I would get them to sit right back against an armchair or sofa and use pillows to prop the baby up or sit the toddler on your lap and the baby on them so that you have the main control and hold! Always be right there to support baby’s head and be ready to catch if a toddler gets bored and suddenly wriggles away without any warning.
08 I would always say that you must try and keep your older child’s routine you had in place before your second baby came along. For example, if your daughter has ballet classes, make sure she still gets to go. It’s important that your first born doesn’t feel like they’re missing out because of the new baby. And where possible, spend time with them during the day without mentioning the new sibling when baby is sleeping.
A new sibling will undoubtedly change your family. As your older child adjusts, reassure him or her of your love. Explain that he or she has an important role to play now, too — that of big brother or big sister. However, after enough time your children will become to form a special bond and so will your family.
Read our previous blog from Nanny Louenna all about the importance of play here.