Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Staying Connected When Your Baby Becomes Big Brother

After the excitement of Big Brother and Big Sister shirts has passed and the influx of happy visitors tapers off after the arrival of a new baby, the reality of parenting two children sets in.  A lot of parents face apprehension about the transition to having more than one child.  Attachment parents face the challenge of staying connected with older children while bonding with the new addition. 

We recently made this transition, and in many ways, it has been easier than I thought.  One thing I work on constantly is keeping connected with both kids.  Connected Daughter is worn and held at least 90% of the time, so figuring out ways to maintain a strong bond with Connected Son is particularly important.

Here are some tips to stay connected with older children during this time:

- Ask your older child to help.  Siblings like to feel needed.  Even toddlers can bring you burp cloths, "help" change diapers, and pick out outfits for baby.  Helping you care for baby allows them to bond as well.  Connected Son loves to make Connected Daughter laugh when she's fussy, and he's really good at it!

- Make special dates with older children.  Take big brother with you to the grocery store, hold hands, and talk about their interests.  Read big sister a book during baby's nap.  It's especially important for older children to have one-on-one time with Mom and Dad.  Some afternoons I take Connected Son outside to play ball or a library trip.  Those few minutes of mommy time go a long way.

- Be patient with them.  Attached children are generally sensitive and caring toward others, especially new siblings, but even they have a limit.  It's hard to go from having undivided attention to sharing your parents.  When tantrums erupt, help older children redirect their frustrations by modeling patience and positive thinking.

I never could have imagined how strongly Connected Son would bond with his sister.  I love to watch them together.  As a parent, your bond with you older children will take on a new and rewarding aspect as you watch them connect with their younger sibling.  It takes adjustment when your family grows, but with consideration everyone in the family can stay connected while creating personal bonds with the new family member.


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