She's been the center of your world since she was born. All of that is about to change! If you have a toddler or preschooler and are pregnant with baby #2, here are some tips from the Circle of Moms communities to ease your family through the transition from "plus one" to "plus two."
1. Before The Birth
Moms who have been through it agree: it's important to make your firstborn feel like they are part of what is happening. Like many moms who offer advice on this subject, Ali K. says she always talked about the new baby as if it was her son's baby as much as hers and her husband's: "I found that if I referred to the baby as "your baby" he became very excited... Make it about him! If he thinks this baby is his too he will be into it."
Include and Inform
A Circle of Moms member who goes by the name "Bunny" says: "kids like knowing what's going to happen." She suggests getting them involved by creating a countdown calendar (roughly estimating the arrival date of course). Your preschooler could also learn about the new baby by coming with you to some doctor appointments. Amy S. found that her son enjoyed and learned from hearing the baby's heartbeat and being there for the sonogram.
It might be a good idea when you register at the hospital to ask if they offer tours or classes for big brothers and big sisters. Emily H. found just this kind of great opportunity for her sons at the hospital: "My boys are taking a sibling class at the hospital (just two hours on a saturday) where they get to take a doll so they can learn how to hold, feed, [and] change the baby. They also get a tour of the hospital to see where mommy will be and get to see the babies in the nursery."
The best way to show your preschooler what it will really be like with another baby in the house might be first-hand experience with other families. Alison G. prepared her son for the new arrival by scheduling playdates with other moms who have multiple young children: "We've been taking him to the museum, park and to various babysitters so he's used to being around babies and kids. So far he's extremely gentle and good about being around other babies, even when I'm holding them."
Reassure Them of Your Love
Alison S.'s kids are three-and-a-half years apart, and she used her son's questions to help reassure him that not everything would change: ". . .he said, 'Mommy, is my world going to change [when] the baby comes?' I was giggling inside, but careful to answer that "yes, our world would be a little different, but for the better. We will have to make some changes [in] how we do some things, but many things will remain the same." I went on to name the things that would not change, such as Mommy and Daddy's love..."
2. When The Baby Arrives
A Gift For The Big Brother or Sister
In your busy preparations for what to bring to the hospital, some moms suggest adding one special gift for your older kid. Ali K. said this worked well for her son: "When my son came to the hospital to meet the baby we had a big, wrapped gift FROM the baby and made a big deal out of it, "Wow! How cool is this baby of yours? He brought you a prize!" Score one major point for the baby!"
Bunny takes the idea of a gift for your older child a step further, by making it a "big sister pack" full of things that she will need to "help" take care of the baby: "...a new book to read to baby, a CD she can play to baby, pens and paper that she can use to draw pictures or write letters to baby, etc."
Let Them Help
Allowing your preschooler to help with everyday aspects of caring for the new baby will make him feel important. Nicola D. found there were many ways to include her older child: "Get her involved, helping with nappy changes, baths, and even giving a bottle." Mandi F., a mom of three, found that helping out made her son feel special too: "i let him hold the baby and help feed and change her to make him feel all grown up and a part of the baby's life."
3. Dealing With Jealousy
No matter what you do, it is likely that your preschooler will exhibit jealous behavior at some point. Potty regression and bed wetting are two of the most common attention-seeking behaviors identified by moms in our communities, and the general wisdom is to be careful not to reward it by getting worked up. A Circle of Moms member named Jenni suggests ignoring potty "accidents" as much as possible: "don't reward [your child] with any kind of attention (positive or negative) for bad behavior. Tell him matter of factly [that] he knows where the potty is and should use it. Clean it up without saying much about it. It'll pass and even sooner if he realizes he's not getting attention for it."
Big Kid Pride
Some kids benefit from realizing that they are special and different from their baby sibling. Mary W. got her daughter through the jealous stage by "talking up" all the things big kids can do that babies can't: "I talk to her about how big kids can run, jump, change their pants, play with fun toys, but babies can't. She's started to take pride in being a big kid and has started expressing the same notion back to me when she's excited about something. She'll tell me, 'big kids can paint' as she's doing an art project."
Create A Code
A growing family means you and your partner will often find yourself being pulled in different directions and trying to juggle responsibilities. This includes the pressure on both of you to make each child feel special and unique. Elizabeth N. and her husband found a way to give each other cues to get the job done: "My husband and I came up with [a] code for jealousy when our oldest needed attention ASAP ...we would say to one another "Big J". [Then,] whoever wasn't busy would pay some attention to her. My girls are now five and two and they play very well together."
How did you prepare your older child for a new sibling?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.