The news lately has been brimming with stories about the birth of gorgeous little Princess Charlotte, with opinions on her name and Mum Kate’s beautiful glow bringing on the biggest headlines. Royal or not, though, that little baby girl has the same needs as any other baby out there, and Prince George will also feel the same joys and challenges as all other children who suddenly find themselves with a sibling. So let’s look at some of the most important needs of little ones – and no, making news headlines will not be one of them.
Attachment & security
Baby Charlotte and all other babies will seek love and safety from their closest caregivers. Bonding with children is so important, from day one. I remember how with both my babies I couldn’t stop staring at them, I studied their every move, sound and yawn (and screams, yes). Here’s how incredibly important you are to your baby:
- You provide safety and warmth; Your touch, soothing voice and sensitive response to your baby’s needs. And isn’t it just the most amazing feeling when your little one snuggles in near your neck or has the best sleep ever chilling out on top of you.
- Your little one loves looking at your face, seeing your smile and listening to you talk. Before long, you are rewarded by lots of smiling and cooing. So much happens just in the first 3 months of a baby’s life.
- You know your baby best, so follow your instinct. You’re reading her cues, you know how she reacts to different situations; from what brings on giggles to what will feel frightening or frustrating.
- You are helping your baby to regulate emotions by responding in a calm and reassuring manner; e.g. soothing him when he is distressed or toning things down when he becomes overexcited. You can’t spoil a newborn baby, and in fact he’s likely to cry less over the first few months if you respond promptly to his needs.
Yes, sleep is always on the list of a baby’s needs, and in all the pictures I’ve seen of the little Princess so far, she’s fast asleep. It’s what they do (babies, not just royals). And like any other baby she will be hungry, uncomfortable or just in need of closeness in the middle of the night – just as you drifted into deep sleep. Also, she’s likely to be different from her brother in terms of how often she sleeps, how long, and what helps her settle. So what you knew from child number one is often not true for baby number two. Keeps you on your toes!
Both napping and night-time sleep are precious for children’s learning, energy and wellbeing, but also for parents’ wellbeing and their sanity.
When they reach toddlerhood children also need enough good quality kip, even if they start claiming that sleep is no longer for them. Losing sleep affects the way young children respond emotionally to the world, and research has shown that your child is likely to better be able to control her impulses, remember things, and adapt her behaviour when getting sufficient sleep. They take more learning and joy from positive experiences, and cope better with frustrations (yes, that could definitely mean fewer or less intense tantrums).
Chats & Interaction
Attention and Understanding
Being present, really being there for your child, is what it’s all about for them. When you listen closely, meet their needs, and offer kindness, play and emotional closeness. Life is busy, and it’s difficult to achieve this at all times. The arrival of another baby definitely adds to how busy life gets and your superpower-like ability to multi-task, multi-think, multi-meet-all-possible-needs!
Little Prince George is now a big brother, and considering the emotions the first child is experiencing is important. Different children will respond in their own way, and you are going to be the best person to understand what is going on for your child and how you can provide support during the transition.
When the new baby arrives it’s exciting and new, and you may see your child being proud of the younger sibling, taking on a protective and nurturing role. It can be hard for them to understand that the baby is a “keeper”, though, and so fear, jealousy and regression can enter into the mix of emotions. For children under 4, they are still finding their way towards independence, and being separated from you can be scary.
You can read all about how to deal with adding new bundles of joy to the family in our 3-part blog: Part I talks about When and How to Share the News, Part II looks at What is Going on For Your Child as they become a big brother or sister, and Part III focuses on How you can support your little one through the transition.
I think I’ll round up by saying embrace the wonderful life of having children. Stand still with them and let the crazy busy life wait for a while. Notice and return affectionate words and actions, as your little ones learn compassion love and care from you. It’s all about you, the family, royal or not.