When the first child is born, there is a lot invested in him or her. As they grow, they are oblivious to the fact that they, too, were once babies, and that certain things are no longer applicable to them as they age. No sooner has baby number one taken his first steps, than the news of baby number two arrives. This normally makes the first child realize he's no longer the baby and that it's time to grow into the toddler or preschool child that he is turning into.
Soon enough, he starts to compare himself to the new baby. Much to the older child's surprise, there's some kind of realization that he or she is more empowered and can do things by themselves, judging by the little baby's behavior. While the first child always brings much joy and love beyond measure, because it is the very first experience at parenthood, baby number one may or may not have the same levels of excitement. This is because the process of carrying the pregnancy, delivering the baby, and finally coming home is already known to mothers, despite the kids being completely different people altogether.
Either way, preparing for a second child can just be as rewarding and special as the first. But, there will be a lot more factors to consider that parents need to be aware of. Knowing what to do and how to help the firstborn lovebug understand what to expect is one of the best ways to prepare for a smooth sailing adjustment. To help parents survive this new milestone in their lives, here are 15 common ways to help get baby number one excited for what's to come.
Do you recall when the teacher would give an egg as an assignment, which had to represent the baby? At the end of the assignment, the egg would have to be returned intact and with a detailed report? No one would expect that such a little exercise would prepare us for parenting. If the egg was dropped or went missing, it depicted a certain trait that needed to be changed.
As firstborns, when the second baby comes, it's like receiving the same training. However, this time it's reality. Most of the time, mommy is engaged in making the baby comfortable by feeding, changing diapers and much more.
Running small errands while tending to the baby is quite tasking and that's if it manages to be done in the first place.
But having an older child will give any overwhelmed mom a leg up, by introducing the oldest as "Mommy's big helper!" Kids, especially toddlers, eat that stuff up like candy, and it, in fact, works (sometimes.) We're not saying that children should be bombarded with chores, but being able to fetch a bottle here or there, or helping pick out the baby's clothes are definitely tasks that can make life easier. Above all, it makes things go faster and we all know that moms need more time in a day to stay sane.
There's a story that's told of a baby who was sick and her health was deteriorating by the minute. The oldest (and bravest) child had a desire to see his sister, but there were a lot of things inhibiting him. Finally, his parents resorted to allowing him to visit his sister, who was very ill. When he got to the hospital, he went straight to the sister’s bed, and began to sing to her, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine." Every time he visited, he sang her the song, and her health improved by the day until she was finally discharged.
There’s something magical (sometimes literally) about children singing lullabies and songs that excites, soothes or comforts a crying baby. The oldest child usually gets a playlist from his parents who regularly sing in the car, in the shower or just sings to their precious not-so-little angel. This eventually follows them in life. In fact, how many of you recognize a song but you're not quite sure from where, or have been able to sing songs your parents have sang to you but this time, you're singing them to your own children? Yep, that's the same thing.
Songs have sentimental memories that the first child might be able to remember, or at least treasured. So whenever the baby begins to cry, ask your oldest to go in and sing to the fussy sibling and wait for your heart to melt away.
I have always wondered whether toddlers understand the baby language in later years. But, it's quite notable that once they get the concept of language, they rarely turn back to baby talk. Babies have a way of absorbing language more than adults can. They easily grasp words with familiar sounds and that are easy to pronounce. This develops to sentences and later, conversation ensues.
When the oldest child begins to speak, they may assume that the baby may also be able to speak and understand the same language. They will begin sharing stories that they know, discuss how their day went and how to play. The oldest child believes that baby talk is not to their level or standard, and therefore needs to be reserved to its position.
When they discover that their conversation is different than from the baby's, it gives them an upper hand in knowing that they are no longer babies.
According to VeryWellFamily, it is a common occurrence for kids to revert to baby talk even after they've outgrown it at some point in time. For preschoolers, they tend to regress to using a baby voice, which can also happen in some cases with older grade school-going kids. However, this is likely a phase, and with some parental intervention, the habit can be curbed before it goes out of control.
When the first child is born, parents are very alert on how to raise the child - everything must be by the book, or by Pinterest standards. One of the things most parents practice is passing down wisdom, lessons, and rules to the children as they grow. According to Kids Health, when a second child arrives, there's a sincere surprise as to how the first child is able to teach the other children the positive lessons they have learned over the years. It is amazing to watch them share their knowledge on etiquette, cleanliness and proper hygiene, painting, and coloring, singing, playing, family rules, among other things.
One of the best times to pass down experiences is during playtime. When they have pretend-play sessions, the first child shares his knowledge on how to make chicken nuggets (pretend play, guys) how to wash their dolls or clean their toy cars just like daddy. At that point, the younger child is bound to misbehave and the first child may begin to remind them of the family rules by quoting what mommy or daddy said about a certain issue.
I watched an older child teach the younger one where to place the dishes after he was finished eating, and how to properly clean the table. The practical lessons bore fruit because the second child picked up the habit and mom did not need to fuss over anything. Firstborns are excellent teachers and they always have fun and creative ways of passing down information to the second or other siblings.
The first child normally acquires a lot of information from the parents and his environments when he's the only child. They are exposed to a lot of information, so much so that by the time they are older, they can handle some situations at their level, pace, and interpretation. The repeat training helps the first child become an independent child and can be able to influence others.
According to Sleepy Sparrow, older siblings have great influence on the younger ones at a very early stage and may be stronger than that of the parents. Younger siblings tend to look up to the older sibling in everything they do or say. It is very easy for a second or younger child to pick good or bad habits from the older child.
If the first child is responsible, outgoing, neat, a good manager around the house, and understands the consequences or rewards or doing good or bad, they will, in turn, replicate the same teachings to the younger child.
Whatever advice or choices made by the first child can be picked from an older child. To the second child, this can be taken as the gospel truth. But, there's so much more baby number one has to offer besides role modeling.
There's something about sharing rooms with your siblings that is soothing, but also highly annoying. Parents may think they are asleep, but they are actually busy sharing stories, playing, planning for the next day's adventure that, by the time they snooze off, it's morning. When they wake up the next day, they are up to their new mischief once again and the cycle continues.
The first child is used to having the room all to himself, with all the glitz and glamour being firstborn offers. When the second child comes, there is a sense of discomfort and resistance, which fades off with time. The children begin to bond, learn from each other, solve problems when disputes arise, and sharing ends up being a plus rather than a problem. Sharing rooms create a strong bond, and a sense of security knowing that there is someone there in case anything is to happen.
However, even with the excitement of getting a new roomie, parents need to ensure baby number one settles down to the fact that there's a sib, and that the room is no longer his alone, but they're going to share - for how long, only the parents know. If this isn't dealt with from the beginning, everyone in that crowded room will be uncomfortable, which the blame will then be placed on the parents. Kids Health suggests that the older child is allowed to pick out items for baby's room and find a special gift he or she can give to baby.
Just when the older child begins settling down to work on his own activity, or want to enjoy his own privacy, here comes the second child trampling over almost everything. It's more than likely that they want to read the same book, color the same images or watch another show. The second child may not understand why the first child needs his own space, and what they are working on, but sometimes a fight ensues because they want to do what the older one is doing, with limited resources and assistance.
At the end of the day, all they want is companionship and participation.
The younger child may become frustrated and ruins the quiet space of the first one. The work is then scattered all over the place because of the brief interjections. As the saying goes, there's never a dull moment. That's because the second child is also competing for attention, as well as, discovering new things along the way.
Another headache is watching the chaos unfold when their favorite show is about to begin, but the other one is still watching his current show. Eventually, the oldest will surrender or create an even bigger fight, which ultimately turns into a fit of crying and rage. And, of course, here comes mom to the rescue!
When I was growing up, I watched children in our neighborhood have matching outfits. It did not matter whether they were all girls or some were boys. Their outfits would cut out patterns from the same material for every design. This was the same in both private and public functions as well. Parents found it cute, but it was also a way for them to identify their children in public easily
However, not many children liked it, but we all ended up in the same boat. It made me request my mother not to do the same to my siblings and me. To my surprise, my mother had just completed sewn three matching outfits and had the perfect hairdo to go with it. The first child had no choice but to blend in with the others. Kids Health recommends that with the big changes the new baby brings to the home, there's a need to hold off on others and more new stuff, at least so number one can take it in and adjust.
However, there's something about matching outfits that create harmony, because one child cannot complain that the other child's outfit is better than theirs. They also admire how they look the same and compare notes. The first child may get used to it for a while until they are much older or going to school.
When the first child outgrows certain things, a mom will stash them away if they are in good condition, for future memories or use. They may not need them anyway. However, when the second child arrives, some of these items will resurface. The youngest child doesn't typically get the same amount of materialistic items than the firstborn did, but that's just the facts of life.
There is a possibility that they will have to share a lot with the first child.
Mom, oblivious to what will happen next, cleans the items which could be toys, or books or others, and gives them to the second child. However, the antennas of the first child are always alert since, most of the time, the second child is getting something that is sentimental to them. When the first child begins to notice some of the familiar items, there is an immediate flashback which occurs in nanoseconds, and the child suddenly pounces on the items without any reservations. A fresh interest for those items is developed and they begin to take back some of the items for themselves. If they are story books, they prefer giving what they don't need as opposed to what they valued and didn't know where it was.
When a toddler begins to show some resistance in certain areas, sometimes it may be assumed that they are starting an explosive tantrum. We may think that they are acting up and are still babies. However, they could just be sending an 'I can do it myself' message. We may struggle to see this, but it does come out. When they observe the routine activities parents carryout like cleaning, feeding, among others, and their motor skills are developed, they desire to handle things themselves. It's a grown-up thing.
In time, they realize that the baby's character and lifestyle are different from theirs and that baby is not able to do things by themselves without regular assistance like diaper changing, feeding, among others. However, the first child doesn't have to do that, they begin to feel independent and can do things themselves. So they will consider following potty training rules and will never desire wearing diapers at all, they will choose their plates and what they want to eat, they will feed themselves and not require bibs, or dress and much more. The next time they are screaming and shouting while you're assisting them, it's probably that they just want to do things themselves.
The first child has a personal history with their parents. They are aware of what makes the parents aggravated. When the second baby comes, the first child gives a helping hand and also wants to find out how to stop the baby from crying. When mommy wants to dash for something, it becomes tasking to carry around the baby, while the toddler tags along from behind. When the first child has an idea of keeping the baby engaged while mommy is working on something, it builds confidence in the parents that the child can distract the baby while mommy dashes to pick something.
The first child provides entertainment to the baby and keeps them engaged until mommy returns.
This makes it easier for mommy to dash for something in another room and return to join the team. The first child observes how their parents try to make the baby comfortable. As mentioned earlier, baby number one is much of a role model to the new sib, so what he does can positively or negatively influence the new child as they learn more about each other, and from each other as well. If number two can influence number one to revert to baby talk, then the older one can influence baby to do stuff too. In fact, Parents.com says that birth order can have a big effect on your personality and behavior.
Sharing is caring, that's what most, if not all of us, were taught growing up - not until we discovered it is not a universal thing among parents. Kids just have a way of wholeheartedly sharing that we may be able to learn from them. There is a desire to share what they have with those they love. This is a role they play very well based on their relationship at home or school or social environment.
The first child, being excited of the new playmate, has no objection in sharing the resources they have acquired before baby number two arrived. If these kids were born and raised in a Guatemalan home, we'd understand, because they teach the kids not to share, in the hope that they will eventually learn to share at their own pace, and not because they're forced to. However, in the usual setting, for most of us who learned to share despite our feelings, it is commonplace to let the younger one have that toy or book or even peg they're screaming for, if for anything to have peace of mind for everyone around the home. Either way, it is always the cutest thing to see your little ones share stuff and just bond together, that's a parent's joy really.
After the second baby is born, there are a lot of mixed emotions, fears, excitement and anxiety about meeting the newborn sister or brother. The first child may not know what to do, but may just want to spend time with their sibling and show them all the world they have discovered. The toys are brought out, so are the cutlery and crockery, clothes, shoes, the storybooks and so much more. The first child feels like a grown up and is responsible for creating a path of discovery for the younger one. The first child takes the lead in creating a strong relationship.
When they begin to play together, they discover common grounds that they agree upon, and they begin to create a strong bond.
The little adventures they have around the house makes it more enjoyable. This can be a beautiful or devasting experience depending on how well the children's parents helped the first child adjust to the new addition in the family. This transition is important as Positive Parenting Connection describes, because it can get out of hand when the first child begins to act out. At this time, parents may not fully understand or be aware of what's happening, until they understand it is about the new baby almost 'taking over' his little throne.
When the first child is born, you just want to hold and cuddle them. They cannot resist being carried at their request. In fact, they enjoy it because they have a bird's eye view of the environment. They would do anything to stay there. They would cry, pull tantrums, throw things just to get the attention of the parent to carry them. When the second child arrives, the first child is very observant and can quickly tell the difference between themselves and the baby.
The first child realizes that they can do one thing that most grown-ups do, which is walk. This excites them so much that the only time they want to be carried is when they are tired, or moody, or scared. When they meet with other toddlers who are walking, they also decide to join them. They do not want to sit in the shopping cart anymore, because it's for babies or during social gatherings. While you may feel frustrated, because you have to chase around an anxious, excited walking toddler, while carrying a baby or pushing a stroller, the first child is least bothered about your troubles. All they want to do is walk and no one is going to take that away from them. The beauty of the first child walking is that they become independent and you can take some time to concentrate on the second child.
The first child is used to being alone, gets all the pampering and attention. When the second child comes, they take time to understand this new person in the circle, but the love for that child grows naturally. Kids Health gives great advice on how to help baby number one adjust, but, obviously, he or she desires to see and play with the second child every day.
As time goes by, the relationship between the first and second child blossoms to a beautiful and endless friendship.
They share experiences, have playtime together, learn from each other, laugh at each other's jokes, play together, discuss their issues at their level, wait for each other after school and update each other on what happened throughout the day, plan for adventures, and even fight over irrelevant things that matter to them.
They become best friends for life amidst all fighting. The strong bond is just phenomenal and begins when they first meet. They want to spend more time with each other and feel divided when split, especially if one goes to school and the other stays home. The first child develops a sense of responsibility for the second one and will protect them by all means, ensure they are well-taken care off, and comfortable at all times.