The transition from 1 child to 2 children is really hard. If/When you go from 2 to 3, you’ll realize it’s not that bad at all! I think that keeping the older child as involved in the prenatal baby care as possible will really help. Invite her to “read” to the baby while you rest in bed, or talk to him. Jonathan really loved coming to the midwife appointments and being the special helper. He could measure my belly and use the doppler to hear Hannah’s heart beat. It was so sweet when we got pregnant with Joshua and Jonathan showed Hannah how to do all the hands-on things that he had learned when she was in my belly!
Does your first born have a special doll or stuffed animal they like to care for? We got Jonathan a stuffed monkey and used it as Jonathan’s baby. Before Hannah was born, we would play like it was really a baby and put a diaper on it, give it a bottle, and I made a special sling out of cloth so Jonathan could carry it around. We did this for Hannah, too, when Josh was coming. Do this when you are still pregnant, so that once you need to focus on the baby, you can encourage the first born to get her “baby” and take care of it while you take care of your baby. We have hilarious pictures of Jonathan and Hannah “nursing” their “babies” while the real baby was getting fed, too! Encourage her to help you as much as possible, and she will feel important to Mamma.
I could say “don’t feel guilty”, but there are going to be times when you just will. The older child needs to learn that the baby’s needs will have to come first for a while. What works for me is that I’ll take care of the baby until he’s asleep, and then go have special snuggle time with the older ones, talking to them about how much I love them and how they are special to me. Also, communicate to your spouse and the people around you how important it is for them to focus on your older child when they come to see the new baby. I so appreciated some of our friends who came over with gifts for both the baby and the older kids, so that EVERYONE felt special. Your husband especially can help with giving the older child lots of Daddy time while you focus on the baby.
One of the crazy things I did that I think really helped was NOT weaning Jonathan when Hannah was born (he was only 25 months old). After I would nurse Hannah to sleep, I would nurse Jonathan and talk to him about how much I loved my big boy. I know that sounds totally crazy, but it helped a lot, since his love language is touch. It was initially hard to tell him that Hannah had to have milk first, but he would lay quietly until it was his turn, even waking me up sometimes to tell me Hannah was all done and it was his turn. =D (I’m getting teary thinking about this… he’s FIVE now!!!)
I think the greatest thing about having kids close together is how they pretty much grow up together. When Jonathan finally finished potty training, Hannah was old enough to start, and he encouraged her. When Joshua was born, they both were the proud older siblings, and could go play together while I took care of the baby. It’s so precious and sweet to see them growing and learning and loving together. I really would not have it any other way. When God called us to do something crazy like TRUST HIM with our fertility (and then me getting instantly pregnant), we were panicky. 3 kids in 4 years? That’s insane! But the blessings are so great, and we are so glad that we didn’t take matters into our own hands and prevent the conception of any of these little wonders!
I hope that you are encouraged! If you have any advice you’d like to share or questions to ask, please do it!
This question is from one of my friends who has a 17-month-old daughter with a new baby coming soon! Her daughter is starting to transition from two naps a day to just one nap a day. I gave her my advice, but feel free to add your nap time tips in the comments section!
How exciting that your little girl is growing up! I bet you are looking forward to seeing how your new little guy changes her little life, huh? =)
As far as naps go, you are the mamma, so make sure you get your little breaks. Jonathan no longer naps every day (he’s 5, though), but I NEED my afternoon break, so from 2-4, he has quiet time, while Hannah and Josh are actually napping. He can “read” or play quietly, and I usually have some classical music or Bible stories playing quietly for him. Hannah still naps at least once a day, but usually she takes it in the afternoon.
For me personally, I like the afternoon nap and would work on transitioning out of the morning nap, just because that way they are fresh and cheerful when Daddy comes home. I think that a slow transition, pushing the morning nap later is a great idea. The trick is to plan fun activities and outings so she WANTS to stay awake, but then be sensitive to her time needs. So, if she usually goes down at 10am, aim for 10:30 and maybe take a walk starting 9:45 so she’s DOING something that will keep her up. The library was big for us back in Paso Robles because it was right down the street. We could walk there, play and read for a while, and then walk home. Anyways, don’t rush it. Stick with 10:30 for several days until she seems used to it and then go for 11 and stay there for a few days, etc. Also, realize that this will tweak your lunch schedule for a bit, so maybe make the morning snack a little bigger so she doesn’t wake up starving. =) I do remember when Hannah started transitioning to one nap that the afternoon nap had to come RIGHT after lunch, so it was more like 1-3, but that was still OK.
You also might like to start training her to lay down when Mamma does, because when your new baby comes, you are going to need as much rest as possible! I honestly think the transition from one child to two children was harder than going from two kids to three! One thing that really helped me is that I had trained Jonathan from infancy to nap when I lay down. When Hannah came along, all I had to do was tuck Jonathan on one side of the bed and then nurse Hannah on the other side and then we’d all go to sleep together! Lots of rest for a new mamma means the family is still happy!!
Remember that when your new baby comes, your daughter may go through a little regression; realizing that she’s not the baby anymore may bring up baby-like behaviors. If you just remain sensitive to her feelings, and stay very aware of her needs, you’ll be able to tell if she’s having a rough day and maybe NEEDS her two naps, or if you need to call Grandma for some special granddaughter time while you focus on the baby. =)
Do YOU have any nap time tips that have worked well with your kids? Post them! 😀