Okay, first of all, is this not the sassiest picture ever? Victoria is full of silly facial expressions and I’m just glad we were able to capture this one! Cait is sitting to her right, I think she was taunting her because she was holding brother and not Cait :)
And the expressions here just totally crack me up! A much more somber Victoria, Cait “mothering” away, and look at Jack, he just looks mad at Victoria! So funny, I love it :) Need to print these to hang on the wall :)
This picture was taken the day after Jack was born. When Victoria first met Jack she did not want to hold him. She said she did but when we tried to let her hold him she changed her mind. I have a friend who was asking me about helping the “baby” of the family adjust to the new baby, I thought I would just do a blog post about it and share my thoughts and a couple of things that we have done with our children.
When Jack was born it took four days for Victoria to muster up the courage to hold her baby brother all by herself. This has not been our experience with all of our children, some of them have taken on the new baby with great ease and excitement. Her apprehension could have been due to the fact that she’s a little older than any of our children were (12-19 months), and the older they are, the more aware and logically they are thinking. I could see a bit of confusion on her face when she would see him, if you put yourself in their shoes, where in the world did this baby come from? He is a stranger, and you are not only asking me to meet him, but to touch him, put him in my lap and hold him? WHAT?!! And you are going to keep him? I think he should go home now! That is the attitude of lots of kids when their new little person arrives.
We do a good deal of prepping the youngest member of the family, but depending on age, and personality of the child there is still a bit of an adjustment time for the little toddler when the new one arrives. Here are just a few things that I do to help them along with the process.
- Respect their space. I don’t force my toddler to hold the baby, this could actually cause emotional damage, feeling like my parents are forcing me to do something that doesn’t make me feel safe. My toddler’s apprehension is valid, it’s not because she’s spoiled or needs discipline, she’s legitimately a little weirded out by the new baby and she needs to know that she doesn’t have to hold him if she doesn’t feel comfortable.
- Give them opportunity. I take time out as soon as I can to have my toddler sit in my lap with me and the new baby. I let Victoria look at him, she didn’t want to touch him so I touched him to show her that he was okay. We counted his toes, then I counted her toes and said, “Oh look, our baby has 10 toes just like you!!!” Then we looked at his fingers, and his tummy, etc. We talked a lot about why he moves like that, that he’s not in my tummy anymore, that he nurses and gets his milk from mommy. Then I coaxed her to touch his toes or his fingers. She didn’t want to, but eventually she will.
- Don’t be offended. You feel this amazing sense of love for the new baby and you want your young toddler to have that same love for his or her sibling. If you see your toddler rejecting their new baby you might be tempted to feel a little betrayed, don’t give into this temptation. They are not betraying you, or their younger sibling, it’s just part of their process. And every child is different, some will take longer than others. Our job is coach them gently through this challenging process.
- Be patient. But not too patient. I think some parents give up too soon, and just allow their toddler to develop an attitude towards the new baby. This isn’t good either. Our goal is to help our children connect, and if the toddler is being mean to the baby like hitting, they do need to be disciplined. Then I would have a little talk with them and have them ask the baby to forgive them, obviously the baby can’t respond but you can say, “Jack says he forgives you.” I just had to do this this morning with Victoria. They need to learn to be gentle and kind right off the bat, the sooner we teach this the better!
- Give them “Mommy time.” Sometimes our toddlers just want life to go back to how it was before, when mom had lots more time for “me,” can you blame them?! I do my best to find several minutes throughout the day to do the things that I used to do with Victoria. For her it was sitting in my lap, with a bottle and a binkie and a book. She still needs to know that she is the center of my world. If her love tank is getting filled every day then she will be much less apprehensive to accept this new little stranger in our home, and welcome him to stay a little longer. Maybe even to like him, a lot :)
This little love relationship between siblings is a very important one. If we help our children to see how much we love them equally they will grow to love one another, instead of resenting the sibling for taking our mom or dad’s love away from them. We are to love our children and not show favoritism and as much as this new baby needs so much love and attention, our older children do too, we need to be careful how we balance out our love for all of our children, paying close attention to their individual needs, and being careful to deal with sinful attitudes when they come. It can be tough to decipher, and this is where we need to lean on the Lord and ask Him for wisdom, remember He gives liberally to those who ask! And seek out those mamas who’ve been through this a time or two, not every situation is alike and sometimes we just need a fresh perspective.
This morning I was nursing Jack and Victoria was sitting on my lap. She was a little concerned about what he was doing. She also wanted to hold him and was being kind of impatient about it. I explained to her that he was going to nurse, and then I would burp him and THEN she could hold him. She said, “Okay…I yub you mommy. I yub you Gack!” And that made me want to cry. She is still a little apprehensive of him, she doesn’t want him to touch her and certain things about his whole existence kind of bothers her, but she’ll get there. And I will love her through it, and one day they will be fast friends, and neither of them will remember this time of struggle. Remember mamas, God’s grace is sufficient for you, and His strength is perfected in our weaknesses!
Would love to hear tips from other moms or dads that have had success on this topic. Other practical tips, or even questions. Please leave your thoughts here on this blog post instead of on Facebook :) Thanks!!