The Preschooler and the Princess: Bringing baby home
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I guess what's ideal depends on the temperament of your older child or children. We are fortunate to have a calm and somewhat reasonable first born. Nate's amazing disposition has definitely been tested by the arrival of his baby sister. For one, towards the end of the pregnancy I had no energy to play with him and even basic caretaking tasks were difficult and often passed off to Daddy or grandparents.
After spending a lot of time with grandparents in the last two weeks of my pregnancy, Grandma and Pop-Pop brought Nate to the hospital to meet his sister. We had read that it might be good to give a gift to our eldest on behalf of the newcomer. So one of our last tasks while nesting was to purchase a small Thomas train set that we brought to the hospital. You might think it forced, but buying Nate's affections right out of the gate seemed to endear him to his new competition.
In the first few days, we noticed Nate was very possessive of Lucine. In our post-birth appointment with our homeopath (who helped with our birth -- read more here) we mentioned this development. She said that it would likely lead to sibling rivalry in a few weeks. When we mentioned that he had crawled into bed with us and fallen asleep with both hands above his head -- something he hadn't done since infancy -- she immediately blurted out a remedy. We tried it and it seemed to cure some of his clinginess.We also noticed Nate getting very aggressive. When we mentioned this behavior to the homeopath she said, "Now is the time for Jan to take him out and teach him to play sports." This was the best prescription. Being home, instead of rushing home from work to a late and hurried meal, we ate our dinner early and then headed out for a walk to the schoolyard. I would nurse Lucine on a bench while Dad and Nate ran the bases. This helped to channel his negative energy into something positive.
I also taught Nate that when he wanted to punch us, or squish his sister, he should punch a pillow or the couch. We asked people to bring a small gift for Nate when they came to visit us, congratulating him on his big brotherhood and reducing jealousy. And lastly of the techniques used in this transition process, Jan and I made sure that (with the help of family and friends) we were able to spend one-on-one time with Nate, particularly during bathtime/bedtime.
I think all these things helped to ease the transition. Lucy-loo slept so much in the first few weeks that it wasn't too difficult to have special time with Nate. He didn't really notice a major change in his level of service. This was key in keeping him from throwing hissy fits and getting him to bond with his sister. Now he spends every waking minute kissing his sister and telling her he loves her, despite her protests.
How did you manage the adjustment to life with a new baby? What techniques did you use to integrate the new member of the family?