- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 22, 2003

Sure, a 1-year-old may point to Mom’s belly and say “baby,” but does he really know the changes that are in store for the family? Not really, says Pat Keating, manager of perinatal education programs at Holy Cross Hospital in Kensington.

“Kids under 2 really don’t have much concept of what is happening,” she says.

Sibling readiness classes offered at Holy Cross and other area medical centers are geared toward children older than 3 because they have a greater attention span and comprehension, Ms. Keating says.

Still, there are steps to take and plans to make to ease the transition, she says.

• As soon as you are telling other people, tell the child in a way he can understand, Ms. Keating says.

Nishi Langhorne, a Clifton mother of two sons born 16 months apart, says she did not talk much about the new baby to her older son. In hindsight, that was a mistake, she says.

“He would put his hand to my belly when I said, ‘Where’s baby?’ but that wasn’t enough,” Mrs. Langhorne says. “When he came to the hospital and saw me with an IV and an actual baby, he kind of freaked out. Ultimately, he was fine.”

• If possible, get the older child involved in preparations for the new baby. Take him shopping for baby things. Explain that his old, outgrown clothes don’t fit anymore and the baby needs them. Accompanying mom on a prenatal visit so he can hear the heartbeat also is an easy way for the older child to participate, Ms. Keating says.

• Don’t rush the older one out of his babyhood. At 18 months, for instance, most children are still in a crib, so don’t move child No. 1 out of his. Instead, invest in two cribs or have the younger one sleep in a portable crib until the older is ready to move to a bed, she says.

• Buy a small gift for the older child from the new baby. Lisa Kuipers, a South Riding, Va., mother of children ages 3, 2 and 1, did this when her two younger children were born.

“My kids still remember that,” she says.

• If relatives come to see and help out with the new baby, arrange for them to spend some special time with the older child. That way, the mother can devote time to nursing and resting, and the older child will not feel left out, says Ann Douglas, author of two dozen parenting books and mother of four children.

“Have a game plan that involves friendly neighbors, aunts, whomever,” Ms. Douglas says.

• Remember that even if the older child is jealous, this too will pass.

“You can only prepare a 1-year-old in an abstract way,” she says. “Until the baby comes home, he is not going to realize that baby is here to stay.”

MORE INFO:

BOOKS —

• “THE MOTHER OF ALL BABY BOOKS: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO YOUR BABY’S FIRST YEAR,” BY ANN DOUGLAS, JOHN WILEY AND SONS, 2002. THIS BOOK IS A COMPREHENSIVE AND HUMOROUS GUIDE TO INFANTS AND TODDLERS.

• “TWICE-BLESSED: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HAVING A SECOND CHILD — PREPARING YOURSELF, YOUR MARRIAGE AND YOUR FIRSTBORN FOR A NEW FAMILY OF FOUR,” BY JOAN LEONARD, GRIFFIN, 2000. THIS BOOK COVERS MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM ONE BABY TO A BABY AND A TODDLER.

• “AND BABY MAKES FOUR: WELCOMING A SECOND CHILD INTO THE FAMILY,” BY HILORY WAGNER, AVON, 1998. THIS BOOK COVERS THE EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES OF HAVING A SECOND PREGNANCY AND BABY.

• “THE HIDDEN FEELINGS OF MOTHERHOOD: COPING WITH STRESS, DEPRESSION AND BURNOUT,” BY KATHLEEN KENDALL-TACKETT, NEW HARBINGER PUBLISHING, 2001. THIS BOOK IS ABOUT THE EMOTIONS THAT FOLLOW THE BIRTH OF A CHILD, INCLUDING WARNING SIGNS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION. THE AUTHOR ALSO GIVES ADVICE ON HOW TO GET ORGANIZED TO STREAMLINE TASKS WITH TWO SMALL CHILDREN.

• “FROM ONE CHILD TO TWO: WHAT TO EXPECT, HOW TO COPE AND HOW TO ENJOY YOUR GROWING FAMILY,” BY JUDY DUNN, BALLANTINE, 1995. THIS BOOK, BY A PENN STATE FAMILY STUDIES PROFESSOR, EXPLAINS SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS.

ASSOCIATIONS —

• MOTHERS OF PRESCHOOLERS INTERNATIONAL, 2370 S. TRENTON WAY, DENVER, CO 80231. PHONE: 303/733-5353. WEB SITE: WWW.MOPS.ORG. THIS SUPPORT GROUP FOR MOTHERS OF YOUNG CHILDREN HAS LOCAL CHAPTERS AND EVENTS AS WELL AS ADVICE, ARTICLES AND A COMMUNITY ON ITS WEB SITE.

ONLINE —

• TODDLERS TODAY (HTTP://TODDLERSTODAY.COM), A DIVISION OF IPARENTING INC., HAS DIARIES, ADVICE, CHATS, ARTICLES AND BULLETIN BOARDS FOR PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN.

• ON PARENT SOUP (WWW.PARENTSOUP.COM), SPONSORED BY IVILLAGE, PARENTS CAN CONNECT ON BULLETIN BOARDS ABOUT 2-YEAR-OLDS, INFANTS AND CLOSELY SPACED CHILDREN.

• Our Kids (www.our-kids.com), a site run by Washington-area parents, has local information about play groups, playgrounds, support groups and events that will interest parents of young children.


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