I had my kids pretty close in age. They are not even 2 years apart, but I remember when we told my older daughter that she was going to be a Big Sister, she gave us this puzzled look, it took her while to grasp the concept she was going to be a big sister. She was happy, but had a lot of questions about my pregnancy. To prepare her I used these little techniques before and after we had our son so she knew that she was still loved and that everything was going to be alright.
BEFORE the arrival of the baby:
- Have your child feel your stomach. Explain to him/her that there is a baby in there, have him/her feel the kicks, hiccups, movements so your child understands that there is a baby growing in your tummy.
- Explain to your child that they are going to play a very important role as an older sibling. Explain what roles him/her are going to play, such as, a great helper, story teller, and a great listener ,etc.
- Prepare your child for when you are in labor depending the time you go if they are awake or sleep. You maybe gone for a few days to the hospital for the arrival of his/her sibling. That he/she will come visit and see their baby sister or brother and how excited the baby will be to meet him/her.
- A friend of mine suggested this, she told me that take your child to a “Build a Bear” or any store where you can make your doll/teddy bear and have your child pick their bear/doll, clothes & accessories. Explain to your child that they have to take good care of the bear/doll. She/he will have to be gentle, be nice and quite when their bear/doll is asleep, so on so forth so you are prepping your child for their sibling, on how she/he will have to be a good listener and how much love they will give to their new sibling.
- Have your child help you prepare for the baby. Have your child help pick a name, decorate the nursery, help organize the closet, open gifts. This prepares him/her for the arrival of their sibling and helps them prepare themselves mentally.
AFTER the arrival of the baby:
- Have your child come visit their sibling at the hospital (if allowed, and make sure she/he is not sick when they come visit, because you sure do not want your newborn to get sick). This experience for my husband and I was priceless :). We could not believe how well our daughter did meeting her brother for the first time. She held him and could not stop giving him kisses.
- Buy a small gift from the new baby for the big brother or sister. I bought a crayon set, coloring book and a doll for my daughter from my son to give when we arrived at home. Friends and family are going to be bringing gifts, so at least they feel they are special and getting one to and especially from their new little sibling it feels extra special!!
- Spend one on one time with your older child as much as you can. They especially want that attention at this time with all the new changes and new baby. They may even want extra attention, but spend as much time as you can, because you want them to feel they are not replaced or not loved anymore. Every time my son napped I spent a lot of one on one time with my daughter and it can be anything like reading a book to her, coloring with her, playing outside, having lunch with her, so on and so forth. This I EMPHASIZE so much because it makes a difference and also it eases their comfort.
- Understand your child’s feelings. Try talking to them about their feelings (depending how young or old enough they are). Letting them know you care makes them feel at ease and feel that they are still important. If your child acts up try not to get frustrated, try to understand where they are coming from, and what they are going through with all the changes in the house and with a new sibling.
- Have your child participate as much as they can with you and the baby. For example, get a diaper, or help pick out clothes for the baby after bath time. Have them involved (of course the things their little hands can do) as much as you can so they feel included not excluded!
These are a few things I did before and after the arrival of our son. I felt that it helped my daughter a lot because we prepared her and had her involved which made her feel very special. 🙂 -Best of luck-