The relationship between your older children and your new baby is very important. Preparing your child or children ahead of time for the birth of their sister or brother will help them adjust when the baby is born. Below are some practical suggestions.
Ways to prepare your older child for the new baby.
Tell your child about his or her "babyhood" -- how he or she was born and fed, how you rocked him/her and shared many hugs and kisses.
Show your child photos when he/she was being fed, held, and bathed as a baby.
Let your child go with you to your prenatal visits (if that is acceptable to your practitioner). Have your child listen to the fetal heartbeat and feel the baby kick within your stomach.
Give your child a new doll so he or she can practice caring for a "baby" too.
Make arrangements for your child's care while you are in the hospital. Discuss these arrangements with your child well before the baby's due date.
Prepare the baby's bedroom or sleeping area well in advance, so your child can adjust.
Place a photo of the older child as a baby at child's eye level in the baby's room or where the family spends the most time.
Talk with your child about what their new sibling will be like. Use books that show pictures of babies and discuss what babies can and cannot do.
Develop a method of long-distance contact with your older child before going to the hospital. Some ideas are: call your child by phone so he/she will get used to the sound of your voice on the phone; write notes to your child to ask him or her to do small jobs; make a recording of you reading a story to your child.
Involve your child in preparations for the new baby. If your child wants to, let him or her:
Help you pack your suitcase for the hospital
Help select baby's name
Help pick out baby's coming home clothes
Make the baby's homecoming a special event for the whole family.
When you come home from the hospital, let daddy carry the baby so that your arms are open for your older child.
Have a birthday cake and family birthday party to celebrate the new baby when you return home from the hospital.
If your child wants to, let him or her help make birth announcements by drawing pictures, etc.
Have your child pass out something special to friends announcing the baby's birth.
Have your older child and baby exchange gifts. Your older child may want to pick out a special gift for the baby.
Ask your friends and relatives to greet your older child before seeing the new baby.