When we found out we were expecting our second child, my daughter was 11 months old and we had no idea how she would react to the new baby. She would be 18-months-old when our new baby was born and we worried that she wouldn’t handle having a sibling well. So we did quite a number of things to prepare her for the birth of her sister, and when our second child was born, she was an amazing big sister. I’ve gone through this four times now, and they’ve gone wonderfully. Of course different things worked for each child, but by implementing a few of these strategies, you’ll help get your children ready for their new sibling!
• Talk about the baby. And as much as you can. Talk about how different things will be when the baby comes. Talk about how much you are going to love the baby and how you will love them just as much. Talk about how they can help with the new baby by bringing the baby a blanket, pacifier or a toy. Explain to them that the baby will be born at the hospital and will be brought home and live with you. Get them familiar with having a baby and what it’s like to have a baby (as much as their age allows) so that when the time comes, it won’t be a big surprise.
• Show them your belly. I remember the first time I showed my daughter my growing belly. She was so fascinated by it. We talked about how her little sister was in my tummy but she seemed to be more interested in seeing my bare belly all round.
• Let them feel the baby move. When you are far enough along that you can feel your baby move from the outside, let your child feel the baby kick and move around. It’s a fun way to make it more real when they realize that there really is something growing in mommy’s belly.
• Read books about getting a new sibling. Reading books about kids becoming siblings can help your kids understand that babies are born all the time and how wonderful being a sibling can be.
• Let them help pick out new baby items. My kids enjoyed picking out clothing and toys for the new baby. My kids helped me pick out the outfit the baby came home in and they also picked out a bear as a welcome home gift. This is an easy way to help get them excited for the baby.
• Show them pictures of when they were babies. Another way that helped prepare my kids for their new sibling was to show them pictures of when they were babies. We talked about how everyone starts out as a baby, and reminded them that they were babies once, too. You can also show them baby pictures of you and your spouse.
• Get them a baby doll or stuffed animal to take care of. I bought my kids dolls that they could pretend to take care of by feeding them, dressing them and changing their diapers. This was a great way to help them understand some of the things mom and dad would have to do for the new baby.
• Point out babies whenever you’re out. Since my eldest daughter hadn’t been around many babies until my second child was born, I tried to point out babies whenever we were out, like at church or the grocery store. I would say something like, “Look at the baby! we’re getting a baby like that soon!” to help remind her what was coming soon.
• If you have any friends with a baby, ask if your child can meet them. You can talk about babies and point them out all you want, but actually being around a baby is different. If your child can be around a baby, it can really help. Show them how to be gentle with the baby. I had a friend with a baby and I brought my daughter over quite frequently and the exposure to the baby was very helpful when we brought her new sibling home.