Saturday, March 8, 2008

And baby makes four...

With Thomas' recent birthday, I've been reflecting a bit on the transition to little ones and looking back on it with a bit more space (and sanity).

Older siblings will often regress in their behavior, wanting to nurse or drink from a bottle if they had previously given it up or being less reliable in their potty training. In addition, older siblings will often become clingier, to one or both parents or even adopt a transitional object, like a blanket or stuffed toy, when they had never shown interest before. Isabelle definitely did all of these - adopting "Bear" as her nighttime companion.

Parents can make the transition more difficult on everyone when they do not recognize what an enormous change the older child has undergone. Understanding and compassion, along with time, will restore household peace and help forge the lifetime bond that siblings will share.

A tried-and-true tip is to have an extra-special gift for the older sibling that the new baby “brought” for them. Make believe play is very powerful to young children: older siblings should have their own “baby” and gear to mimic mom and dad. This “baby” also gives them an outlet to play out their frustrations safely. Finally, everyone will benefit if mom has a good comfortable baby carrier so that she can meet baby’s need for closeness while having her hands-free for play. There are even great matching slings for both mom and siblings. These make a wonderful shower gift - older siblings will be very proud.

In human development, there are no absolutes and very little is inevitable: parents can expect their children to react to the addition of a new sibling as they would to any major event. A happy, go-lucky kid is likely to adjust pretty quickly, irrespective of their age or gender. Conversely, a child who is resistant to changes in routine or highly sensitive to noise is likely to have more difficulty. Go easy on yourselves and each other – it’s a joyful journey once all your little travelers get along.

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