Every mother wants the best for her children. Here are some simple tips to put you at ease before and after the birth of your baby
Before the Birth of Your Newborn
1. The right time to tell your child is when you are sure
If your child is young, then it might be difficult for them to understand the concept of time. So give them a timeframe that they will be able to grasp.
You could say: the baby will be born around your birthday or around Christmas time. An older school-going child who has better understanding of time can be told earlier. A teenager should be told at around the time that you tell the rest of the family.
2. Talk to your child about the baby before it is born
Some children may be excited to have a new playmate. To avoid disappointment, let your child know that the baby will cry and sleep - a lot. Emphasise that your newborn will take up a lot of your time.
And to give younger children a better understanding of what the baby will be like, bring them to visit a friend or a relative who recently had a baby.
It is also likely that your child will ask lots of questions. Therefore, your answers should be tailored to the age and the maturity of your child. If a toddler asks you where is the baby, you can tell him that the baby is in a safe place within you.
However, if your child is of school-going age and asks you the same question, tell him that the baby is in your womb. A teenager, on the other hand, will not ask you that question, but you can use your pregnancy as an opportunity for you to talk about sex.
3. Get your child to do things with you and the unborn baby
Try to build the bond before the birth of your new baby. For example, if you want your baby to listen to music before its birth, get your child to listen to one headphone while holding the other to your tummy. You could also get your child to touch your belly and let him feel your baby kicking.
4. The baby is ours not mine
To keep feelings of jealousy and possessiveness away, refer to the baby as ours and not mine. This will help your child understand that the baby is part of the family.
If your child is young, avoid doing these things before the birth of the baby:
- Getting him off the pacifier
- Weaning him off the bottle
- Sending him off to nursery
These actions may increase the feeling of insecurity in your child right before the baby is born. Instead, shower your child with all the love and affection that he needs and spend as much time as you can with him.
After the Birth of Your Newborn
5. Involve your child in daily activities with your newborn
Get your child to spend time with both you and the baby by giving him little tasks that he can do. Allow him to hold the baby's bottle during feeding. Let him wipe your newborn down after a bath.
Younger children do not realise how strong they are. Do not allow your child to lift the baby. If you have to, lay down some ground rules. If your child is older, let her choose the baby's clothes for the day.
Keep to your older child’s routines as far as possible, so he does not feel that his life is in a major upheaval because of the baby. Make it a point to spend quality time with him every day.
6. Expect regressions
If your child is young, expect regressions. For example, your child may return to old habits like using diapers. Deal with these situations patiently and calmly. Older children are used to getting your immediate attention. So try and give it to them.
7. Be generous with praises
Praise your child with something not related to the baby. For example, if your child is a toddler, you could say: You have eaten really neatly. Well done! Boost his self-esteem.
8. Be fair and loving
Most of all, trust your maternal instincts and be perceptive. Exercise your fair judgement as far as possible. If you are able to show love and kindness, you will pique your child's fascination with the baby which can forge a strong bond between your older child and the newborn.