The switch from only child to sibling (or baby of the family to big brother or sister) is certainly an enriching experience, but it is not without a mix of emotion your little one will need to work through when transitioning from one to two (or more). Laying the groundwork early on during your pregnancy and helping the child understand what is happening and changing will help them better adujust into their new role as big brother or sister.
It starts early.
Include your older child from the very get go. Explain to them that your family will be expanding and encourage them to embrace thier new role as an older sibling. Consider allowing your child to be a part of the pregnancy announcement. Start with a special big brother or sister t- shirt and let them know how special it is to be the bigger sibling and all they have to look forward to.
Include them along the journey.
Involve your child in your pregnancy, enourage them to talk, sing, and interact with growing baby. Paint your tummy together. You may even consider including your child in your midwifery or OBGYN appointments, especially ultrasounds if you have them. Explain to them how the baby changes through pregnancy and how big they are each week. A fruit comparison is great for this and something tactile for the children. They will be excited to see baby growing.
Let them help you prepare.
Plan together, pick out special items for baby together and let your child play an active role in preparing for the new baby. The older sibling could even make items for the new baby, explore pinterest and create items for the new nursury or baby corner together. They could even make a special gift to give the baby when he or she arrives.
Read books together about expanding families. Draw photos together. Play with a baby doll. Engage the older child in activities to help them understand what a new baby is all about, doing so through play excites them.
But most importantly understand them.
Their little world is changing too. They may not be ready to accept change. They may experience a range of emotions from fear to anger, and that is ok. Help them work through their emotions postively while explaining it is ok to feel the way they do.
What steps have you taken to help prepare your children for a new sibling? How did they respond? Anything you would change in retrospect?