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Prepare your child for a younger sibling: 5 tips

11 Oct 2013 – 06:26 PM EDT

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Congratulations! You’re having another baby. Planning for round two is just as exciting as the first time, but there are a few major differences. First, you have a better idea of what to expect this time. No big surprises (you hope). Secondly, you have to consider your firstborn’s feelings. Introducing the idea of a younger sibling to your firstborn child can be fun and exciting. Here are a few tips to get you going.

1. Read about it together. Plan an outing to the library and find some children’s books on the topic, or order some of your favorites. I’m a Big Sister or I’m a Big Brother are a great place to get the conversation going, explaining things such as the fact that babies cry a lot.

2. Plan “mommy and me” time before and after baby arrives. Your firstborn is used to having all of your attention, all the time. She’s going to have a bit of an adjustment sharing you. Before the baby is born, you may want to set some time aside to go on outings with your child that may be difficult to do once the baby arrives. Then plan special times to focus on your oldest after the younger sibling arrives.

Nap time is a perfect time to regroup with your firstborn. So is breastfeeding. It may sound challenging, but while your baby is feeding, you can have a quiet reading time with your oldest. Feeding sessions can become something the older child looks forward to.

3. Let big brother or sister help. Older siblings love to help. Ask her advice when you’re picking out goods for the baby’s room. After the younger sibling arrives, encourage your “big helper” to help you dress the baby or hand you items the baby needs. Watch her beam with pride as she feels like she’s become your hero.

4. Explain how she was once a baby, too. Showing pictures of herself as a baby will help her realize she was once little too, and that the baby won’t always be a baby. It’s also a helpful way to demonstrate what babies can and can’t do at first, and how as the baby grows, he can do more like his big sister!

5. Keep the focus on becoming a big sibling. Let’s face it, little kids love to be the center of attention. Keeping the focus on her rather than on a younger sibling will make the adjustment more exciting for her and help keep her from feeling threatened by his arrival. You can even surprises her with a big sibling shirt or a special toy that she gets for graduating from being an only child.

As your belly grows, your lap gets smaller, and your energy level declines, expect some mood swings from your little one along the way. That’s normal.

Enjoy this time and have fun welcoming another new addition to your family.

How did you prepare your firstborn for a new sibling?