by Heidi Scrimgeour
on 6 May, 2015 at 11:33 am
I wonder how gorgeous Prince George is adapting to life with a new little Princess in the Palace?
There’s 21 months between my lads - about the same age gap as there is between Princess Charlotte and her big brother, so, for the benefit of those of you currently grappling with introducing a new baby to an older child, here’s what I remember about how to help smooth the transition between siblings:
1. Never underestimate the capacity of kids to surprise you.
I remember agonising over how to break the news to my boys that they were going to be big brothers. I need never have worried - they were delighted with the news and have been utterly spectacular big brothers from the second they even knew their sister existed. So don’t presume you know how your child will react to having a baby brother or sister, and don't lose sleep worrying about putting their noses out of joint. Apparently George was ridiculously excited about meeting his sister, even if he looked a bit shell-shocked. Your kids will probably surprise you, so don't waste energy fearing the worst.
2. Invest in a treasure box
for feeding times.
You’re bound to have heard of the idea of creating a treasure box of items that your older child can play with whenever you’re feeding the new baby. This was a total God-send in our house. If you can assemble it before the baby arrives, that’s even better. It can be full of simple, inexpensive items like stickers, colouring sheets, books and puzzles, but above all make sure you stick strictly to it being something special only for use when the baby is feeding - that way the novelty won’t wear off quickly, and you’ll have a bit of a breather during feeds, too.
3. All new babies should bring presents,
Rumour has it that Prince George got a little present when he went to meet Princess Charlotte in hospital, and that he dashed home rather than appear on the steps of the Lindo Wing with the rest of the family because he couldn’t wait to play with it. Again, this is a genius idea. Yes, it’s technically a bribe from the baby, but no, it’s not worth getting hung up on the ethics of that. It’s hard for a little person to resent someone who turns up with a great gift, after all.
4. Ask visitors to greet the big brother or sister first.
I wonder if the Queen did this? My in-laws did it when they arrived to visit our second baby, and it was a beautifully poignant way of making sure our eldest child didn’t feel overlooked. Just brief your visitors to spend a few minutes saying hello to the proud new brother or sister before they go gushing at the baby. It’s worth it to make sure your older child knows they still matter, too, and haven't simply slipped down the pecking order.
5. Don’t panic if the older child asks when the baby’s going back.
It will happen. I’ve yet to meet a mum of two or more kids who didn’t almost cry when her older child asked if they could send the baby back now. A friend's child took this a step further and tried to post the baby ‘home’ via the washing machine - it goes without saying that you need to be vigilant around sibling relations in the early days - but don’t panic if your older child is less than enamored with his new brother or sister. Another friend says her two-year-old refused to touch or even acknowledge his baby sister for the first three weeks of her life. That's ok, too. Like all relationships, the bond between siblings can take a little while to evolve. Give it time. Just keep the washing machine door firmly closed in the interim.
We'd love to hear your experiences of introducing siblings to one another. What helped smooth the new family dynamic in your house, and what would you add to our list?