Coping with two children is very different from coping with one and it can be tough at first especially if your first child isn’t very old. So far as the baby goes, you’ve got more experience and probably more confidence, which helps. However, the work more than doubles, and dividing your time and attention can be a strain.
It is not unusual for the birth of a second baby to alter your feelings towards your first child. It would be strange if it didn’t. At first, you may feel that you’re somehow not loving your first one as much or enough. Some parents say they feel very protective towards the baby and ‘go off’ the older child for a while. It simply takes time to adjust to being a bigger family and loving more than one child.
Your older child no matter what their age has to adjust too. You can help them with this and this should help you too.
• Try to keep as many of the old routines and activities as you can, like going to playgroup, visiting friends, going swimming or telling a bedtime story. This may not be easy in the early weeks, but it gives reassurance.
• Don’t expect your older child to be pleased with the baby or to feel the way you do. It’s lovely if the pleasure is shared, but best not to expect it.
• Do expect the older child to be more demanding and to need more and want more of you. Someone like a grandparent can often help by giving the older one time. But do try to give some special attention yourself, and have some quality time alone together, so your older child doesn’t feel pushed out.
• Older children don’t always find babies very loveable, but they often find them interesting. You may be able to encourage this. There’s a lot you can say & explain about babies, and children like to be given facts. Talk about what your older one was like as a baby. Get out the old toys and photos. Try to make looking after and playing with the baby a good game, without expecting too much.
• Feeds are often difficult. An older child may well feel left out and jealous. Find something for them to do, or make feeds a time for a story or a chat.
• Be prepared for your older child to go back to baby behaviour for a time – wanting you to feed them, wetting themselves or wanting to be carried. It’s hard, but don’t always refuse requests, and try not to get angry.
• There will be jealousy and resentment, shown one way or another, sooner or later. You can only do so much. If you and your partner, or you and a grandparent or friend can sometimes give each other time alone with each child, you won’t feel so constantly pulled in different directions.