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Sunday, April 13, 2008

getting the toddler to play safe with the new sibling...


Dear moms, I am interested in finding out, if you have multiple kids, about how you managed to help the older one(s) understand not to harm/bother the little one (not intentionally, of course)?

I have gathered that the age difference matters: a 2-year age gap is in a way more difficult as the 2-yr old is still a baby, and a 4 or 5-year gap is better as the older one is mature enough to understand and do his/her own thing...

However, at 3 years, little miss Ana seems to be at the cusp where she believes she is a "big kid" whereas she is still a baby in many respects just testing her limits and exercising her independence in every little thing...

On the beautifully positive side: She is very good at changing times: Ana loves to help me change Baby Oggie. She gets the diaper out, as well as the butt paste, and always insists on seeing his yellow poop before I toss the soiled diaper away... If I am reading to her and she hears Baby Oggie cry, she magnanimously tells me to go help the baby first and then come back and finish reading...

However, she has this little streak in her to push the limits on what she is allowed to do with the new baby. She loves to pull the little one's legs, butt her head against his in an effort to kiss his face, put stray pieces of toys on him and even try to topple his bouncer... all of this is not to intentionally hurt him, I am sure... she just wants to be part of him and all she sees is the tiny one stuck to my chest pretty much all the time and me feeling groggy and unresponsive to her invitations to play...

She is incredibly sensitive so even just raising my voice a bit, or grabbing her and taking her away to a safer place, especially when she is itching to poke and prod Baby Oggie, seems to upset her terribly: she wilts like a neglected orchid and breaks my heart!

I wish there was an easy manual to follow on how to keep Ana happy while giving Oggie room to grow and flourish without me feeling so darned stressed and inadequate...

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5 Comments:

At 1:17 PM, Blogger utbtkids said...

Well, mine are 15 months apart.
It was very tough on Chula when Mieja came along. I still remember the way Chula used to rock Mieja, sent a deep chill down my spine. And this one time, Mieja(3-4 weeks) was lying on the bed and was crying. Chula was tugging at the blankie Mieja was lying, she wanted to get the baby and soothe her. I entered the room and I see Mieja's whole body dangling from the bed and the head was about to come crashing down on the floor. Scary, very scary.....

I did what you are doing now, I spent all time except feeding time with the elder one. My parents were in charge of the younger one.
Also the younger one had terrible acid reflux and had to be vertical most of the time. So she spent a good 20 hrs a day glued to my father's shoulder :)

As you have mentioned, Ana is just trying to b a part of the changes in her life. Taking her away is not going to help in any way.

You can give her a list of chores from which she can pick and be specific as to how you name the chores. Like for example, handing over the diaper/ laying the changing pad - instead of help changing the diaper. Handing over towels/ handing over the cream instead of help giving the baby a shower. This way she doesn't form her own ideas of 'help changing the baby' and knows what exactly she is supposed to do.

Till the first 10 months it was an unwritten rule in our house that if the kids are together, there wil always be an adult between them. 15 month age gap, demands such action, I guess.

If she puts toys on him, gently explain, that you understand that she wants to play with the baby and it is a good thing that she is sharing, but there is a certain way to play with baby who is zero year old baby and show her what it is.

Also set aside a spl (you + Ana) time. Need not be long, just 15 - 20 min woudl do. That is like 2 years in toddler-ville. Tell her every day before her bed time or any time that would work, as the time you bond with her without any distractions. No matter what, even if the younger one cries, don't leave her.

And be strong Sheela. The guilt starts the minute one has children. I am still going through it so don't know if I can be the right person to talk to you about guilt. Initially it was the guilt that I have made my baby a elder sibling so soon which lead to me spending all my time and energy with the elder one. Then it was the guilt that I am not able to spend dedicated time with the younger one. Younger one have no schedule, you will find out quite soon! It is a cycle. I am sternly telling myself that I am doing my best when ever I get in to this endless guilt loop.

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

utbt, you are a life-saver! thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts - you have no idea how much i appreciate it!

Ana had severe acid reflux too and this little one seems to have it in a worser degree if at all possible; plus, per her doctor's terminology, Ana was a "colicky baby" - rocking, walking, car-drives... nothing soothed her when Ana was an infant and I am dreading doing it all over again with this new one...

i like your suggestion of setting specific chores and having Ana do just that - so far, her job has been to get the changing pad, get the diaper, butt paste out and stay next to me (not next to the baby) and that seems to have worked well...

gawd! please email me with your thoughts as and when you find time...

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger Kodi's Mom said...

I am subscribing to the comments here for future reference!

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Poppins said...

UTBT's comment was really enlightening. Sheela, I just read in your comments in the previous post that your parents are here. Even if Ana is not willing to go to them (which she will eventually ofcourse), maybe they can help with the newborn?

Ana is a sweet and independent girl, give her some time to adjust. I'm sure Appa is doing all he can, but he needs to make this a special time with Ana, doing "special" things with her.

At this point, I think the first priority is the baby's safety, so you may want to always put the baby a little out of reach for her.

Guilt, I know it's nearly impossible but don't even go near there.

I don't really know what else to say that wise Tharini and UTBT haven't said yet. Hope you are completely recovered from the infection. My heart goes out to you and you are in my thoughts.

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger Nisha said...

UTBT has been very sweet.

When I had the baby, the brat was less than three, just like Ana. I told him that he can touch, kiss only the baby's hands and legs. We can't do much except keep our eyes and ears open. Also let the elder one play with the baby under your supervision. And it definitely didn't help when the brat was asked not to do this/ that. I interfered only when it became difficult for the baby to handle the brat's so called taking care episodes. I can understand it must be really difficult with no adults around except you. Have your parents arrived?

The baby was basically left on its own except while feeding and changing. All the remaining waking hours I spent only with the brat. That helped a little. It didn't help that he wasn't put in playschool / preschool. Those were definitely tough times, but then good times weren't far behind. But let me tell you, there are more tougher times ahead. At least your son is a passive onlooker now, than an active participant in fights and tussles. It is scary phase but it will pass quickly.

 

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