Here's a compilation of tips from an array of child developmental experts on preparing an older child for a new sibling:
- Let the child know he's not going to be replaced by a new baby.
- Make sure to include first-borns in decisions around the house involving the baby, like how the nursery will look.
- Use phrases like "our baby" or "your baby."
- Don't start "talking up" the baby too early in the pregnancy.
- Choose books that are appropriate for the child's age to prepare for infant's arrival.
- Review photos of when the child was a baby and talk about what he was like as an infant.
- Show the child how to role play with dolls and practice changing diapers and bottling.
- Have someone take the child out of the house before you get home with the baby so when the child comes home, you can embrace her.
- When visitors come to the home, make sure your older child isn't ignored.
- Make sure the child understands that breastfeeding is a natural way for a baby to eat. And encourage your older child to sit next to you with a toy or book so he won't feel left out while you're nursing.
- Make sure there is alone time for the older child.
- Acknowledge that it's natural for the child to feel jealousy or anger, but urge her to talk about it.
- Get the child involved in the baby's care, by asking for help with the diaper, bottles, and baths.