New Year, New Babies
18th June 14
What wonderful news to learn there is another royal baby in the world, a little girl. We have also learnt of an Alumni baby born this morning so double reason to celebrate!
One of the wonderful factors of working at Park Hill is that due to the ages of the children attending, we are often witness to families expanding and are lucky to meet new babies and watch them grow up. As each term usually brings at least one new baby to our families Staff have been Investigating different ways in which they can help children explore day to day life with new babies and their feelings towards family set ups. Second Steps decided to use their role play area as a baby clinic.
The Baby Clinic
The baby clinic was wonderfully successful, supplied with literature provided by our local hospital and childrens’ centres – baby bottles, clothes, nappies, wipes, dolls and buggies, the children experimented being Mummies, Daddies, siblings, doctors, nurses and health visitors. Some fabulous comments were made during their play. We finished the theme with a visit from a real baby as part of Show and Tell.
- Meeting the baby for the first time can be a very daunting experience for older children, having just parents and any other siblings present at the first meeting can help to safely contain your child’s feelings. It is important that there are no other relatives or friends fussing with the baby.
- Try to have the baby in the crib for the first time siblings meet the baby, keep your arms free for cuddles with, understandably, anxious older children.
- Always have a present from the baby to the older siblings, no matter how old the older children are (although if older children are in their 20’s onwards it may be permissible to skip this step!)
- Try not to be too anxious about siblings touching the baby, if they want to hold them, let them, even if you have to support them a little. Babies are much tougher than they look and will be in for all manner of prodding by siblings when they get home!
- When visitors arrive have the sibling introduce the baby as their little brother/sister. Try to encourage visitors to spend some time with your older child(ren) rather than rushing straight to the baby.
- A ‘busy box’ filled with pencils, paper, jigsaws, soft toys, crafty items etc can be a wonderful distraction for a small person while parents are busy feeding the baby. Keeping the box purely for these times can keep the contents exciting, fresh and engaging for longer.
- Have some ready prepared snacks for siblings – hungry children = grumpy, destructive children.
- Introduce the baby’s bedroom/toys to your child while you are still pregnant – what can the toddler add to what they think the baby will need?
- Whilst pregnant, discuss with your child what they can expect to happen when the baby arrives – who will look after them while you are in hospital, where baby will sleep when you are home, what bath time and changing will involve. A child who knows what to expect *should* be less of a handful when it happens.
- Children love to be helpful and praised for it, can they help with bath time or change time? Jobs as simple as helping to bring wipes/nappies etc can make all the difference in raising their esteem and making them feel a part of it.
- Let the sibling choose a toy from them to the baby, they will be so chuffed to see the baby playing with it.
- Spend time telling your child about their own babyhood. A quiet moment in the months before baby is born is the perfect opportunity to let them see their ‘new baby’ cards, first outfits, toys etc. They will relish exploring it all and it will help them to feel cherished in the months ahead.
- If the older child still sleeps in the parents room the months ahead are a good time to consider moving them into their own room. If this transition is made in the months before the baby is due, the sibling is less likely to feel pushed out by the baby and therefore respond better to a new sleeping environment.
- Humans are creatures of habit and one thing that particularly makes children feel secure is routine. As tumultuous as bringing home a new baby can be, keeping the sibling’s routine as much as possible will really help them to make sense of what is happening.
- People will advise you to sleep as much as possible. The baby will sleep for what feels like nearly all of the time; it is important to ensure your older child also gets as much sleep as possible. Children process during their sleep which helps them to make sense of the world around them, if there is a big change in that world sleep is going to be what helps them come to terms with the change the most.
- Try to ensure you and your child have some time together every day where you focus on what the child wants to do. Choosing a time when the baby is asleep so it is just you and the toddler will be rewarding for both of you.
- Enjoy! You and your family are about to begin a wonderful journey, during all the chaos of people visiting and sleep deprivation remember to step back and enjoy it all.
Books are a fantastic way of helping your child to make sense of what is going to happen; books that we can recommend are:
There’s a house inside my Mummy by Giles Andreae and Vanessa Cabban.
I’m a new big brother (Pirate Pete series) by Ladybird
I’m a new big sister (Princess Polly series) by Ladybird.