Preparing for baby number 2 with Sue Atkins

You’re pregnant – a time full of excitement, curiosity, maybe a few nerves and the odd bout of morning sickness?! However if this is your second child there will be lots more to think about!

Having a new baby is such a special time, but your older child may worry about what the changes may mean to them. For the last year or two they have been the centre of your universe so how will a new baby affect this?

This month we have been lucky enough to speak with international parenting expert Sue Atkins. You may have seen on the TV as she is one of This Morning’s parenting experts! She has kindly shared with us some key pointers and advice on how to handle this transition for your little one as the arrival day draws near.

Sue explains that…

The first two years are what she calls the attachment phase for a child. They learn that the world is a warm, secure & safe place. They also understand that if they communicate their needs to you, you will take care of them quickly and easily, whether it be talking to them, playing with them, or changing their nappy. But with the arrival of a new sibling the time comes to learn the magic word, “wait” or in the case of my own son “in a minute!” However this means delaying gratification and realising that there are other family members that are as important as they are, and this isn’t always an easy concept for a young toddler or child to understand.

The birth of a new sibling is a rite of passage really. The arrival of a baby brother or sister can help your older child understand what it means to share, and give them a sense of becoming an independent person unique in their own right.  It will also reinforce that, no matter what happens, you are still there to support, nurture, and love them, but now there are others perhaps to take care of first sometimes.

Be patient and relaxed in your tone of voice when you say “In a minute”. Do not feel guilty as this is a key time for your little one to learn about family life, think of it as teaching your older child a life skill, because how your child learns to get along with a brother or sister at home, will set the pattern for how they’ll get along with others throughout their life.

Your family is a boot camp for developing healthy social relationships and prepare your child about the challenges that they’ll face outside your home.

Always keep the bigger picture and relax.

Pregnancy Preparations, Sue’s three tips

  1. It’s important that you hold the vision of a happy, united family where love and respect are the key energy between everyone from you and your partner to each child with each other. So teach your child “The We Team” mentality when you know that you are expecting another addition to your family. Talk and Teach – that everyone is part of the “Family Team” and you are all part of “The We Team” showing respect and love to each other regardless of age or stage.  Hold this mind-set and attitude for your family and your child will take your lead from you and enjoy their new brother or sister.
  2. At some point during your pregnancy, your child will realise that something is different so get them prepared. Change is upsetting to a child, but you can alleviate this anxiety by explaining what is going to happen. Why not get out their baby book and talking to them about how special they are to you. Talk about what they can do now, that they couldn’t do then and show them photos. Nurture and build their self esteem so they don’t feel displaced and certainly to ensure they do not feel left out or jealous of the new arrival. Help them understand their place in the family – and the important role of a sibling.
  3. When breaking the news. Keep it simple! You can tell your child, “When mums and dads love each other, they sometimes decide to have another baby.” For a child under 2 1/2, it’s best to wait until the last trimester when you are really showing before telling them. . Telling them too early will be confusing since young children have no concept of time yet. Try connecting your due date with something your child can relate to like a birthday, Christmas, or a holiday. “How exciting your new brother or sister will be here in time for Grandma’s birthday” so your child has something to hook on to in their mind.

And remember… The happy times will far outweigh the changes and you’ll soon have a doting older brother or sister on your hands before you know it.

If you’d like more practical ideas & simple tips head over to Sue’s blog – she updates it regularly and it is full of helpful hints and support!