If you ask me about my childhood, I can tell you I don’t remember my life before my brother. All my memories are with him and that’s what I hope Adam feels when he’s older. The gap between my brother and me is almost the same as Adam & Hana.
When we first found out we were pregnant with our second baby, we were very excited for Adam to be a big brother but also concerned and overwhelmed. Hubby and I had a very close relationship with him. We were together literally 24/7! How would having a new baby in the house affect him? How would we even begin to prepare him when he was so young? Adam was only 6 months when I got pregnant with Hana.
We decided we would try to keep Adam around other kids as much as possible so he sort of gets used it but how much can play dates really help? Not much.. So we changed plan. We decided even when Hana was born; we will try to spend as much time with Adam as we always did.
The day we came home from the hospital with Hana, Adam was so excited to see us. He kind of changed quick when he saw the baby but he didn’t take much to it probably because he didn’t understand at first. Hana wasn’t such a fussy baby, which helped us a lot. I would feed Hana, change her and soon as she slept, I would go play with Adam. This of course was exhausting but it was what we had to do. And that’s what we did the first 2-3 months. We didn’t let Adam feel like the new baby was taking his parents away but instead we made him feel like he was getting more attention because of her. We would occasionally buy gifts and put them next to Hana then call Adam and say “Look baby got Adam a present!” He would be over the moon and that kind of made him love her and it was the beginning of their relationship. When hubby was free I would pump enough for a few hours then me & Adam would go out. I would take him to his favorite play areas, have lunch and run around together just like we always did before Hana. And hubby would do the same while I stayed home with Hana.
When we were all home together, we would try to involve Adam in Hana’s routine as much as possible. So for instance when Hana would poop, I would tell Adam “come on let’s go change baby’s pamper, Hana made poo poo!” And he of course would say “yucckkyy” and run to the room where we would change her together. I would always ask him for help or for permission, which made him feel like a big boy. So before I picked Hana up, I would say to him “Adam baby is crying, can mama take Hana?” and he would respond by saying “oh no baby, no cry” By doing that, I wasn’t taking away his time with me but rather including Hana with us.
As Hana was growing, she was more demanding which meant I had to spend a bit more time with her and that’s when Adam felt the difference and he would occasionally try to hit her and get jealous. We would always try to encourage him to “kiss baby” rather than hitting her. We also never shouted at him when he would hit Hana because we didn’t want him to feel like we were doing so because of the new baby so instead we would just say “no Adam, baby will cry” then just take Hana away. Whenever he would see me carrying Hana or feeding her, he would start crying for me. So we started feeding them at the same time. This of course was easier because Hana had started solids. So breakfast we would give them together; Adam on his high chair and Hana on her bouncer. It was a bit tricky when it came to giving them milk; I would have Hana on one hand and Adam on the other with his bottle. That actually created a bond between them. Hana’s hands would always be wondering around and touch Adam’s face or his hands, that made him laugh and happy so he would start touching her hands and playing with her. With hubby’s business, he would travel often but when he was home he would be there for few weeks so that helped the situation a lot. If I needed more time with Hana, hubby would be playing with Adam and keeping him entertained so he doesn’t feel my absence and vice versa.
My advice to mothers expecting their second babies is to try their best to never let their first-born feel neglected or replaced. That’s the worst thing you could do and they will definitely resent the new baby. Try your best to include him/her in everything you do, get them to help you with the new baby and occasionally get them presents “from the new baby”. Ask them for permission before you leave them to go to the new baby, this might sound silly but it works. Make play time together with both of them whether it’s on your bed or a play mat because this will create a bond between them. Family will be a lot of help as well. So try to get grandma involved or your siblings to help out with your first-born and keep him busy while you’re with the new baby. Your hubby of course also plays a vital role in all of this. I am so lucky to have my husband around because trust me you will need their help as well.
It’s exhausting the first few months but trust me when I say it gets easier, so much easier. Hana is now 5 months and it’s amazing. Adam and her are very close, he always asks for her when she’s not around and she’s always looking around looking for him when he’s not around. You will always have jealousy between siblings but it’s all about how you handle it. Never make one feel less important than the either. Always make them feel equal.
I’d love to hear on how you deal with sibling rivalry, what’s your tips & tricks?