How to Care for Your Kids (Without a Clone)
The arrival of your first baby often brings anxious anticipation, nervousness about diapers and feedings, and uncertainty of how you will get it all done. But as the days pass, you settle into your new routine; and although life is hectic, you find quiet moments of bliss with your beautiful baby.
And then the second child arrives. And in some cases the third or fourth too! As your family grows, it becomes increasingly challenging to find quiet time with your baby, and nursing is often interrupted by temperamental toddlers and the nagging feeling you aren’t evenly distributing your affection.
I’ve been there. When my second son was born, my oldest would ask on a daily basis when we were taking his brother back to the hospital. Yes, he wanted to return his only sibling like a wrong-size sweater. He also liked to scream/sing songs about how much he disliked the newest member of our family—not exactly my proudest parenting moment.
I had to pause and think about things from his perspective. Before his brother arrived, my oldest enjoyed my undivided attention. Now he was presented with unwanted competition, and it was difficult for his developing mind to understand why the baby required so much of me.
So how could I juggle nursing the new baby while entertaining and occupying my oldest? Since my health insurance doesn’t cover human cloning, I had to get creative.
Here are a few tips:
Make a nursing box.
Take any clear container or box with a lid and decorate it with your older child’s name and a design that would pique his/her interest. Fill the box with age-appropriate toys, stickers, and trinkets for him/her to play with only when you are nursing the younger sibling. Once that nursing session is over, the box and its contents have to be put away. The nursing box can provide your child with the feeling of excitement instead of resentment when it is time to feed the baby. My son loved this! I would rotate the contents every week and he would be excited when the baby needed to be fed.
Play a game of “I Spy.”
An activity like this allows you to relax for a feeding while engaging the older child.
Invent sorting games.
Take old containers and label them with colors (red, blue, yellow, etc.), then have your child sort colored puffs or pompoms into the appropriate containers. Most craft stores carry the needed supplies.
Create rubber-band cans.
Take two or three soups cans and have your child wrap rubber bands around them. I used to buy rubber bands in different colors and have my son make patterns.
Granted, the age of the child will dictate what kinds of activities and games you can use, but most of these can be tailored for a range of ages. Some things, like singing and coloring and puzzles work well for almost any age. The important thing is to take time to focus on the older children once the baby is fed and settled. Remember, you are the center of their world and they crave your love and attention.
That balance is sometimes hard to find in the beginning, but be creative and breathe. Like anything with a new baby, you will find your stride and no clone will be needed!
Updated February 10, 2017