Guest Author - Kris Bigalk
Now that my twins are nearing their first birthday, I’m finding new ways to help my older children interact with the babies. Here are some ideas that have worked for us.
My Kindergartener is just starting to read books on his own, and had books like “Good Night Moon” memorized by the time he was three. Encourage your preschooler or older child to read to your twins. I set up my older son on a pillow, and place the twins nearby. If they wander off, he keeps reading aloud, and they eventually come back to take a look at the book. It’s helped my son develop reading skills and exposed the babies to reading at the same time.
Patty-cake and Peek-a-Boo
One problem I’ve had with my older kids is their tendency to get a little too riled up and rough around the babies, whether or not they’re including the babies in their play or not. By encouraging slow, gentle games like patty-cake or peek-a-boo, the kids all settle down and get a kick out of each other.
My school-age kids have a blast singing their old preschool songs for the babies. “Wheels on the Bus”, “On Top of Spaghetti”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and other favorites make for a fun family sing-along.
For safety reasons, we bathe each baby separately in a bath chair. While bathing baby, let your older child splash around with the tub toys, and show baby how much fun a bath can be. One of our twins loves baths, and the other hates them, so if you have a similar situation, this may only work for one of your babies. Never leave a baby alone with an older sibling in the bathtub, though, not even for a minute.
It’s important to emphasize to older children that they are not to feed the babies unless you are around; the number one reason babies choke is because an older sibling gave them a “treat” that wasn’t OK for babies. Set up one of your older children in a comfy chair, and let him/her feed one of the babies a bottle, under your close supervision. You can also let a child feed the babies a few spoons of baby food, again as you watch. Babies often like to watch their older siblings eat “grown up” food, so set them in their high chairs with some baby-friendly snacks when your older kids have their snack. That’s entertainment for a baby!