My girls are 17 months apart. Often, people assume they’re twins even when Renée looks so tiny beside Mattina. We were surprised when we found out we were pregnant with Renée as we were planning to spend some alone time with Mattina for at least two years. But there I was pregnant, thankful but worrying how to make sure Mattina and the baby would feel equally loved and cared for.
Here Comes Baby: Preparing Older Child for the Newcomer
I think a lot of parents with multiple children worry about this and seek ways to keep jealousy at bay. (Mind you, I think a little jealousy is healthy and shows your older child is aware of the newcomer) Children are unque and family dynamics differ from home to home but let me share with you some things that are working for us in keeping both our kids feeling all lovey dovey.
- INVOLVE CHILD IN BABY CARE– Kids are very able and often enjoy being allowed to do things on their own. Use this love for independence by asking your older child to help you by picking out clothes for the baby, getting diapers, handing you the towel after baby has been bathed. You can even ask your child to “watch” the baby while you oversee from a distance.
- ENCOURAGE AFFECTION FOR BABY– Give your older child plenty of opportunities to kiss and hug the baby. We ask Mattina to kiss baby Née when she wakes up, before she sleeps, before she goes to school. We even have her kiss Renée before we give her something she’s asking for like a cookie and to also thank the baby when we give her a gift. Same goes for the baby, we have baby Née kiss her Ate and this becomes their tickle play.
- HAVE SEPARATE BONDING TIMES– Rusky and I make sure we play with Mattina separately and talk to her about things she likes. In a day pick a time or a routine you can do together. For working moms, maybe you can choose to sing your child a Good Morning song or come home in time to read your child a bedtime story. For stay at home moms, maybe have afternoon play together while the baby naps. Mattina and I like bathing together. It’s our time to sing, pretend we’re mermaids and even learn a letter sound of two. I think Mattina enjoys it a lot because she keeps saying “Tina take a bath”. For Renée, we have breastfeeding and body massage after I give her a bath.
- HAVE JOINT BONDING– It’s also a good idea to show your kids that you can have fun together while doing something everyone enjoys. For us, it’s singing and dancing. We encourage both kids, even the baby to sing along when we’re in the car or when we’re at home watching Frozen. We even have bouts of crazy dancing when we hold hands and stand in a circle dancing to some random music playing on TV. We turn Mattina’s attention to Renée’s version of dancing which is just bobbing up and down then encourage baby Née to move like her Ate.
- MAKE UP SPECIAL TERMS– We have special terms like Family Hug and Sister Love which Rusky and I voice out every so often and we proceed to do the corresponding action. Now Mattina blurts it out on her own and we have a group hug and kiss even when we’re out in public. On the plus side, Mattina even makes Rusky and I kiss over and over while holding on to both our heads. For now, baby Née seems to not really delight over the fact that she gets squished in Family Hugs but she’ll get used to it.
Again, every family is different and you are the best person to decide what works best for your family considering the unique personalities of your kids. For us, these tips have been working well enough to have two happy little girls. How about in your family? How do you spread the love?