Bringing baby number two into the mix is a wonderful thing, but it can also be an emotional time as you adjust to dividing your love and attention between two children. Trying to keep your firstborn happy when you’re busy looking after a new baby is a juggle that takes time to get used to.
But it doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to spend special time with your firstborn once baby number two arrives. Planning ahead, talking to him about the change and finding ways to carve out that time together will help him get used to the change as well as give you both the opportunity to nourish your relationship. We have seven ideas to help get you started.
1. Talk about it
Be realistic about your time. The first few weeks with a newborn are likely going to be too hard to plan any activities with your big kid. But you can take this time to have focused conversations with him instead. Talking with him about the new baby and how important his new job is as a big brother (or sister) can help normalise the change and give him a chance to express any unhappy feelings about the change. Talks like this will help your child feel secure and connected to you.
2. Let them help
Letting your firstborn help with caring for the baby can be a new way of spending quality time with him. Give him a special job like fetching a new nappy during change time or reading a book to the baby while you feed, making sure to focus on your firstborn, and acknowledging how helpful he’s being. This becomes a practical activity as well as time you can share together.
3. Use a routine
If you don’t already have a routine for your firstborn consider putting one in place that gives your him some structure and carves out a portion of the day that is just for the two of you. You could make baby’s nap-time an opportunity for play with him, or if your partner takes over the baby care for a part of the day this could be a chance for you and your toddler to go for a walk or cook dinner together. Try to make this part of a routine so your firstborn knows to expect it each day.
4. Snatch moments of time
Life with two kids can be unpredictable, so scheduling in activities won’t always go to plan. But even small pockets of time spent focused on your firstborn makes a difference. Blowing bubbles together outside while your baby is happy with floor play, or having some tickle time on the floor while bub is asleep can be ways you can make the most of the time that you have. Your firstborn won’t mind you can’t leave the house in those early weeks, kids just aren’t that fussy. Time with you is all that matters, not the scale of the activity.
5. Date day
When you’re ready to leave the baby for more than an hour, consider scheduling in a regular date day with your firstborn while your partner or babysitter looks after the baby. This could be as simple as a one-on-one trip to the cafe or something more adventurous like a trip to the park or museum. This will give him plenty of time with you and will become special memories for the both of you.
6. A weekly class
Enrolling your firstborn in an activity is another great way to steal some time with them. When babies are young they tend to be pretty easy to cart around without too much fuss. They’ll usually sleep happily in the pram or the carrier while you focus on your older child’s activity. Be sure to cheer him on during the activity and give him lots of attention.
7. Cuddle time
All that time at home with your sleepy, constantly feeding newborn also means you’ll have plenty of time for delicious cuddles with your big boy. You can while away a morning snuggling together on the couch watching TV or reading books together. The close physical contact will be treasured by your firstborn, who’s likely been watching you cuddle the new baby and feeling a little jealous. Remember that quality time with kids doesn’t need to be about big adventures, outings or new toys. Being close to you and having your undivided attention will do the job.