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ASK THE EXPERT: How will having baby number two affect my first child?

Two's already a crowd?

Only child syndrome, middle child syndrome, youngest child syndrome... However many kids you're planning to have, there's always something that can go wrong.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Vanessa Von Auer answers your concerns.


How will having baby number two affect my first child?

It really depends on your first child’s personality.

Some children feel more securely attached to their mother, and are unlikely to react badly to the new baby. Others may feel confused, jealous or abandoned and will require attention and time to adjust to the new family situation. 


Are there any ways that I can prepare him or her?

Talk about it: But keep these chats light and happy.

Spend time away from Mummy: Start encouraging some time with caretakers such as Grandma or Daddy, so that he or she is used to spending time with other people.

Practise: If you have friends with young babies, take your oldest for a visit and make sure that he or she sees you carrying the baby. Allow your eldest to interact with the “practice” baby and praise him or her on how caring and gentle he or she is being.

Get involved: Involve your firstborn in getting the nursery ready, choosing baby clothes and toys, etc. This will make your child feel included and important (even if he or she is a toddler).

Avoid big changes: As Mummy gets bigger and less energetic, your child may become more clingy or anxious. Try and avoid any big changes to his or her daily routines.


I’m worried I won’t be able to love the second one as much as the first!

Remember when you first held your oldest in your arms – and unconditional love overcame you? It will be the same way again.

Your body and hormonal reactions to childbirth make it nearly impossible not to bond with your newborn.

If you need some practical tools, try spending some time alone and see your oldest enjoy his or her time with other caretakers. This will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on yourself and your second baby.

Give yourself the opportunity and time to get to know your second bub without feeling guilty or worried about being away from your eldest.


How can I tell if the siblings are well-adjusted?

Well-adjusted children will be open about their feelings but also able to accept the change in family dynamics. They will be curious about the baby and want to be part of taking care of him or her. Allow them to help out and include them in games you play with the baby.


Are there any signs to look out for if my children feel neglected?

Look for excessive crying or angry outbursts, disturbed sleep or withdrawal.

Try to offer comfort and spend “special time” so your first child understands that he or she is just as important as the new baby.

If your child doesn’t feel better after four weeks, it may be time to seek professional assistance from a child psychologist.


From The Finder, August 2016


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