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November 4, 2011

Having Another Baby? Tips For Adding a New Baby to the Mix…

Filed under: Mama * Earth * Kids — Tags: , — charndra @ 5:31 am

Adding Another Baby to the Mix… And Baby Makes 4..5..6…+

Having a family is like a juggling act – so many balls to keep in the air! Sometimes we drop the balls, but we can always pick them up again… How do we help siblings? How do we ‘fill their cup’?  How do we stay balanced ourselves?

Let’s look at some ideas that we can consider on those ‘survival days’ (as the happy days take care of themselves). Some thoughts for mum, some for mum + baby, some thoughts for siblings:

Green Hour - a time outside to potter in nature...

– Cuddles and Snuggles: Touch is a great way to fill their emotional cup, as always. Keep touching, snuggling and caressing! Constantly tell them how special they are. Your heart has just doubled in size with another baby! Nothing less for them…just remind them all the time.

– The Power of Eye Contact: Although you have a new baby to care for, your eyes are free – make an extra effort to give eye contact when talking to baby’s siblings. They reach the soul and the care of eye contact helps fill their cup!
– Say Yes! No, you can’t do that right now, the baby needs a feed, a change, to sleep. But frame it as a yes! “Yes, we can play in a few minutes.” “Yes, I can get you a snack once I’ve finished making milk for the baby.” (Avoid naming the baby as the reason for your delays). Think of this as ‘patience practice’ for your little one. A few minutes at a time. Sing a song or make one up to the tune of ‘frere jacques’.

Blocks are great, but BOXES are COOL!

– Prime Them for Change: Prime your little one for what is happening next, how you want them to behave. It helps them to adjust and act well. They are primed for the change!

– Daddy Time: What if Daddy takes baby for some bonding time for a special time each evening? What if daddy takes siblings for a special trip to Granny’s or a snack every Saturday morning?
– Find Variety in Your Daily Rhythm: We have patterns to our days, brekkie, lunch and dinner being the main ones. Snacks fit in nicely as times to arrange activities around. What about ‘Green Hour’ in the morning before lunch, when you get outside and potter? Park yourself on a seat or picnic rug with bub and stay outside for an hour… Go for a soft serve cone after playgroup or mum’s group as a regular treat…
– Find a Playgroup for You: Playgroups are really for Mums. Find one where the Mums are friendly, and you enjoy yourself. Time for Mum as siblings play and others admire your baby.
– Mindfulness: Whatever activity you have, keep in mind the concept of mindfulness to pull you back to the present moment and enjoy it. What if you practice some mindfulness whilst breastfeeding, or while sibling is playing with playdough?
– Sibling Time: Remember – toddles can’t have as much of your time as they did. BUT – they are gaining a sibling! They will (eventually) develop patience, resilience and more.

Add foods to an oven tray and let y our toddler swirl them together for fun...

– Toy Variety: Rotate some toys on a fortnightly basis – blocks out for a bit, then paper and pencils another, then paper and stickers, then paper and glue and cutouts. Then a playdough table for a while, then out come the dolls/ cars box. Perhaps a toy box for breastfeeding time? Perhaps breastfeeding time could be story or book time? For example, stuffing things into playdough is fun – think of it as sculpture. Buttons, toothpicks, popsticks, cutlery, corks, lids – a different thing each time, an easy way to add variety.

– Friend and Family Support: Everyone is busy, but keep asking! What if you go on a walk in the park every couple of weeks? What if Grandparents can have a regular special time each month?
– Breastfeeding: What if you thought of this as ‘me time’? “Can’t do that, feeding baby.” (This is great for avoiding chores). Yes, toddler wants you, but baby NEEDS you – sibling has more coping reserves than a baby! Talk to siblings – describe what you see them doing…
– Mums’ Groups: Like playgroups, these are for YOU. Kids generally have fun wherever they are! These days, Mums and Playgroups take the place of extended family support to fill our own cup with support, ideas and sharing experiences.

Each Time You Pull Out Playdough, Offer a Different Item To Stuff Into It!

– Baby Wearing: A great way to either help sibling reconnect when someone can take baby for a spell, or to keep baby close while you play with said sibling.

– Occasional Care: Check out what is available nearby. Perhaps a regular day in childcare. Perhaps a kindy program to access while you shop with just baby, not tanty chucking sibling!
– Massage: You can get a neck massage for $5 at the major shopping centres these days. Prime time for a spot of mindfulness when you are out to say, do the food shopping and the kids are at home with Dad for and hour…
– Exercise: Think of it as activity and schedule it into your week like an appointment or brushing your teeth. What if you walked to playgroup? What if you walked several times a week when baby is asleep in the pram? (Yes, people say sleep when baby sleeps, but you can really only do that with one!) Exercise is now considered a high priority in managing emotions.
– Online Support: Online forums can be a saviour when there are times you are couped up at home for whatever reason. Facebook chatter, special interest forums, online information… Are there many mums who haven’t breastfed baby to sleep while googling?

Stickers are fun.

– Accessible Support: You can access social workers, psychologists, helplines and organisations for support, advice and help. Pandsi and Beyond Blue help you subdue the Black Dog of depression. See your Dr and request help when you think you need it. It helps.

– Mindlessness: There is something to be said for a spot of mindlessness to get your mind clear and distracted. Popcap games are my thing. Reading Twilight novels…watching movies… ‘Babes in Arms’ screenings are Wednesday mornings.
Adding a new baby to a mix is a BIG DEAL! A baby is a full time job. I hope some of these are ideas you can incorporate to help you make the adjustment easier, or at least have more strategies to draw upon.
– Charndra
P.S I prepared this as a handout for an ABA session I ran as a Community Educator for the Australian Breastfeeding Association. We had a huge turn out, which tells me this is a topic of great interest to Mums, so though I might as well share it here too!
Let us know  your thoughts in the comment box below…

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