Conceiving Renée came as a pleasant surprise when Mattina was only 9 months. Throughout the pregnancy, Rusky and I really went the extra mile to make sure Mattina felt that she was loved a not pushed aside because of my growing tummy. Even when Renée was kicking and heavy, I’d still bathe, feed and put Mattina to sleep. Even when I looked like a waddling penguin, I’d still play with Mattina in Gymboree. As I shared in another article, we doubled up the love while preparing Mattina for the coming of her sister.
As this was our second time, I had a better idea of what kind of environment and conditions I’d want in the hospital and when we got home. I was hoping for less surprise visits and more washed hands from family and friends. More than what I wanted for the baby and myself, I was hoping the visitors would be more mindful and sensitive towards Mattina. Because of the small age gap between the girls, I felt that it was crucial for the visitors to give Mattina the same excited attention they were going to give Renée so that Mattina wouldn’t feel left out.
Aside from the usual DO NOT VISIT WHEN YOU”RE SICK and wASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE TOUCHING BABY, here are a couple of tips excited family and friends can look through as they visit the new baby AND their sibiling:
- Happily greet the older child first- Chances are the new baby is sleeping or has her mouth full of milk. Do try to not rush off to see the baby. Slow down and say hello to the older child as if he or she was the purpose of your visit.
- Do not compare the new baby with how the older child was or looked as a baby- No one likes being compared and it’s certainly not healthy to make comments on how the two children fare as newborns. Even when you think the older child is out of earshot, DO NOT compare how they look, how they behave and comment as to which baby was fairer upon birth!
- Spend some time playing and talking with the older one- Though the baby will definitely benefit from your loving gaze, tender touch and cooing, so will the older child. As mommy changes the baby’s diaper or takes a break to breastfeed, spend this time interacting with the older child and her playthings. Engage her in pretend play, ask about her favorite animals and hug her a lot.
- Include the older child When interacting with the baby- As you touch the baby’s feet (with WASHED HANDS), do include the older child in this interaction. Ask him or her if she likes touching the baby’s feet, remind the child to use gentle hands or even comment that the baby is really lucky to have a special older sister or brother.
- If giving gifts, bring one for each child- It may be a little bit of a stretch for you but you can be certain that your friend will be utterly grateful that you’ve given both her children such love. The gift need not be expensive. Any small token will go a long way in making both children feel they each have a place in this world and in your heart.
It wouldn’t have occurred to me to write this had it not been for one of my favorite professors in college, Teacher Carol. It seems like such a simple topic but I know, as a mother of two, that it’s quite an important one. Thank you Teacher Carol for the wonderful insight of writing this article. You’ve always been an inspiration and I continue to learn from you years after I’ve graduated.