7 November 2013, by Mandy Loh
One of the hardest things about being pregnant with a second baby, is dealing with the first baby’s reaction to it.
I suppose it is understandable for the firstborn child to be anxious and confused about what is going on. Up till now, Cristan has been the centre of attention in the family, getting 100% of our time, love and affection. I’m sure he’s pretty happy with this arrangement, and is probably feeling more than a little threatened by the fact that another baby is going to come along and turn his cosy little world upside down!
In my first trimester, I gently broke the news to Cristan that there was a baby in my tummy. He seemed to understand, and liked to poke my belly button, while saying “I poke baby!” I also told him that he had to be more careful with Mommy now, and was not allowed to jump on, kick or push my tummy. Back then, he didn’t seem too affected or concerned, perhaps because the concept of Mommy having a baby in the tummy was too abstract for him to grasp. Besides, the bump had not started showing yet, so everything looked normal on the surface.
Now that I’m in my second trimester, with my baby bump in all its rotund glory, the looming changes seem to be affecting Cristan a lot more. Coinciding with the peak of his Terrible Twos, it really spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E in our household! He’s become extremely clingy, always demanding my attention, and frequently asking me to carry him. (Nobody else would do, by the way – it HAS to be me.) He also seems to be regressing in his behaviour – sometimes crawling around as though he were a baby, and babbling in baby-talk. Worse of all, he has started waking in the middle of the night, crying and wanting to be carried and cuddled.
The frequency of his temper tantrums has increased as well. The tiniest, most insignificant things could trigger a crying fit! Just the other day, he threw a finger puppet onto the floor of the shopping mall, so I bent over to pick it up. Cristan flew into a rage, insisting that he wanted to leave the finger puppet on the floor, and started screaming and crying inconsolably. I mean, seriously kiddo?!?!
Tim and I are trying to cope with these behavioural changes as best as we can. Firstly, we try to avoid tantrums in the first place by making sure he has his meals and naps at regular times, as hunger and tiredness are sure-fire recipes for a cranky toddler. Secondly, we try to be cool when his tantrums occur, by trying to coax or reason with him, and if that fails, by ignoring it altogether. We found that time-outs work quite well; after letting him cry it out for a while, he will stop and calm down. Perhaps he just needs to vent and release his pent-up frustrations and energies.
As for the impending arrival of the new baby, I found an excellent book from the library that I’ve been reading to Cristan, entitled “Michael and His New Baby Brother”, about a boy becoming a big brother (I change “baby brother” to “baby sister” when I read it to him). Cristan loves the book and requests for it to be read every night. I’m taking this as a good sign that he is becoming more receptive to having a sibling! I also constantly remind Cristan that both Daddy and I love him very much, and that would not change even when a new baby comes along. I’m just hoping that these verbal affirmations will allay his fears and concerns a little bit.
While many parents of two or more children have assured me that Cristan’s current behaviour is normal and to be expected when I’m pregnant, it would sure help to hear more tips and suggestions on how to make this transition easier for him. Please drop me a line to share what worked well for you! Thanks lots! 🙂