Understanding the situation: the reality of having a new baby on your toddler

I thought my family was going through something unique once Oliver was born. Something bizarre, heart wrenching, tear inducing, scream rolling…

Thank goodness I came across THIS Book.

From one child to two – what to expect, how to cope, and how to enjoy your growing family by Judy Dunn.

After reading a few pages, i felt comforted knowing we are not the only ones going through THIS. But it also made me eager to continue reading for solutions. I need them. Desperately.

Judy confirms for me that whatever that is happening to Edward and how it has affected our feelings and judgements of ourselves as parents, is perfectly normal in a family welcoming an addition.

Let me share with you what has been going on in the last 2 months (yes 2 months… And Judy says some of it are here to stay for eight months to a year more). Somebody HELP ME!

Edward had initially been whining for daddy for about almost everything. That happened for 2 weeks maybe. Judy says it is normal for firstborns to be more attached to their father when the mother is busy attending to the constant demands of a newborn. However, some firstborns will alternate between the parents or even grandparents… Do you know why? The firstborn will just try to get the attention of whoever is attending to the baby. Yes. They are jealous. Edward was in this phase for a few weeks. However, he has stepped into another phase! Now he wants MUMMY only!

Judy’s proposed survival tip:
get your firstborn involved in taking care of the baby. Let him help you get the diaper, ask for his help to calm the baby down, sit with him on your lap talking to the baby, etc make him feel important

Have I done it?
Well, I have. The diaper part. The sit on your lap part. Something similar to asking him to calm the baby. Yet, Edward is still clingy to me. Why? That’s because there are other underlying problems. You see, I personally believe that toddlers ‘misbehave’, are demanding, etc because there are reasons for them to do so. Reasons that are more often than not in our control. We just have to think through and know what it is that is actually making them the way they are.

………….

Since 18th Dec 2011 Edward has been giving us terrible terrible nights. The first few weeks were accompanied by vomiting. But there is one ‘friend’ that accompanies night wakings without fail. Would you like to guess? It’s ‘crying’. And I mean really crying, screaming, whining his lungs out, buckets of tears coming down… Asking to be carried. And carried out of his bedroom! *sigh* Judy says it happens with some firstborns. And it will usually stop by 6 to 8 months, and shouldn’t last longer than a year. what?!?!?!

Judy’s proposed survival tips:
she says they do this because they want to be with you every moment they can. So try to give them more attention during the day. Set aside one on one time with your firstborn. And try to minimize contact / fun when he wakes up at night crying

Have I done it?
Well I try to give Edward as much time I can possibly find, but I still feel it’s not enough. But then Judy says nobody can give the firstborn the same level of attention they used to give prior to the baby being born. Minimize night time contact? We totally failed on that one. First few weeks we thought he was not feeling well as he kept vomiting at night. So we entertained him with YouTube in the living room. Daddy went in to sleep with Edward. But it only gets worse. He then calls for mummy. Now this sometimes is impossible because I would be feeding Oliver. So the problem escalates. We move him into our bedroom. Partly because I have to make them both go to bed ALL BY MYSELF while daddy is at night duties. It’s insane to have 2 kids in 2 rooms. And now that he is sleeping in our bedroom (4 in 1), he still wakes up at night! Daddy then brings him to OUR BED. Well it seems we are now stuck here. How can we ever get out of this?!

……………………

Unusual behaviors, demands, attitudes… Are a resultant of their inability to cope with the situation and their own feelings. Anything will make edward whine. Previously, even a fall quite bad didn’t make him utter a noise. Now he will whine and want us to give him a blow even after a minor minor injury on his finger for instance. Anything will make him cry and ask to be carried.

Judy’s proposed survival tips:
give your firstborn more positive attention. No point giving negative attention, e.g. Being angry at him, or only giving him attention when he’s whiny… Etc

Have I done it?
Have given both positive and negative attention 😦

………………….
Other contents from the book:

“children who suffer a particularly marked drop in parental attention are likely to be the most upset after the birth. So it is important to try to compensate in any way you can”

keep to a routine. things that seem trivial to an adult can loom large for a preschooler: drinking from a special cup, getting her favourite song at bedtime, or watching a certain TV show at a set time each day. when all these familiar habits cease at once, life begins to seem very uncertain to a young child.

a baby introduces endless interruptions and frustrations into the older one’s time with you. Your firstborn has just gotten your attention and has you sitting on the floor to play a game, when the baby wakes and cries, and off you go again. this is very hard on a child. Sudden changes and a seemingly undependable mother and father are major causes of stress for firstborn children.

about a third of firstborn children show an increase in very specific fears or worries over the course of the first year.

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About Lili

Lili is a wife and a mum to 3 boys. An aspiring writer. Adores creativity, art and beautiful creations. Dog lover. Gentle-parenting follower. Follow her parenting journey at www.happywehappyfamily.com where she writes about family happiness and how to stay connected to our spouse and kids.
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2 Responses to Understanding the situation: the reality of having a new baby on your toddler

  1. Mabel says:

    Hi Lili,
    Was reading your blog. Just to share some thots. My gal slept on her own cot (but in our room) when she was born. After her brother was born, she slept on a mattress next to my bed. I’ve never put her on my bed at night, partly bec we only had a queen size bed that’s too small for 3. When my boy arrived, we changed our bed to king n he slept with us while my gal slept on the mattress. One day, when she was 2 plus, she insisted to sleep w us on the bed. We actually did this for a number of years till we let them sleep in their own beds n room last year. Many of my friends did/ are doing the same. Letting children sleep w parents. Of course many books will tell u to do otherwise. But personally ( also opinion of parents who r doing this) I think this is a v ideal arrangement , esp to our Asian culture. All along, most Asian kids sleep w their parents. That cld really explains why we r closer to our parents n most do not leave home to stay on our own till we get married. Most books in the market r written by westerners. I feel that when kids r around 4, getting them to sleep on their own is so much easier n less scary (for kids). Of course, as a couple, we hv to think of ways to be tog πŸ˜‰

    • teamcleo says:

      Thank you for sharing, Mrs Goh πŸ™‚ All 4 of us are now sleeping in one bedroom, Edward and Oliver both in their respective cot beds. But in the middle of the night, Edward will wake up and want to be on our bed. So the cycle goes on πŸ™‚ haha… But I’m thinking of moving out to the small room with Oliver. Edward stays with daddy in the big bedroom. This is because they tend to wake each other up during nap times and bedtime (they still have different sleeping schedule)…

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