Another baby is on the way, but the prospect of becoming a big brother or big sister might be a little confusing and even worrying for your eldest child. Learn more about preparing for a sibling.
When people think about relationships among siblings, the first word that often springs to mind is "rivalry." To be honest, that conception isn't entirelywrong; siblings can wind up competing for their parents' attention.
As a parent, you can set the tone to foster relationships that are loving, supportive and cooperative instead of competitive. Here’s how to prepare yourchild for the arrival of a new baby brother or sister.
Tell your child before telling the neighbors.It's best for your child to hear the news about a new baby from you, rather than from someone else. The best bet is probably to time your conversation forshortly before you tell your friends. That way, your child won't accidentally spill the beans before you're ready.
Enjoy your "big boy" or "big girl".Even if you weren't expecting a second child, it still would be important to celebrate all the ways your firstborn is growing. Moving from a bottle tosolid food, from diapers to underpants – all of these milestones show your child is growing up. As children grow, it's important to show them how proud youare that they're growing into "big boys" or "big girls." This can prepare them for seeing themselves as "big brothers" or "big sisters".
Time your transitions.In some cases, you might want to space your children's transitions. For example, you may not want to move your older child into a new bedroom and the babyinto the "old" room at the same time, so your firstborn doesn't feel like she's being replaced. If the timing works out, it's a great opportunity to showyour pride in both children's growth.
Let them help.As you already know, babies require a lot of work and attention, and there are many ways in which a big brother or sister can help. Your firstborn can talkor sing to the baby, help with bottles or when you change diapers, and so on. When you find ways to let your firstborn help, you're sending him severalimportant messages: that you trust him, that he can take an active role, that part of being a big brother is taking care of a younger sibling, and thatyou're all in this together.
Reassure them.One common worry among firstborn children is that a new baby will replace them in your heart. From time to time (both before and after the baby arrives),make sure to tell (and show) your firstborn that you'll always love him just the same.
Set the tone for other adults.Along with reassuring your firstborn, be careful that other well-meaning adults don't accidentally undermine your efforts. Discourage comments or jokesimplying that the new baby will somehow replace your first child, or that you’re going to be too busy to show him love and attention.