I have a lot of friends right now who have just had or are about to have their second children. I’m the old pro in the group now that my kids are 6 and 4. We have talked a lot about how to get the older child ready for a new baby in the house. From my experience, both good and bad, here are some great tips for easing the transition:
1) If someone else will be taking care of the child during or after your trip to the hospital, make sure they spend time together before hand, so it doesn’t seem so out shocking. Unfortunately for my family, my husband was traveling full time. When he spent a month working from home and taking care of our son around the birth of my daughter, my son took all of his frustration out on daddy. However, his grandparents made a couple of visits prior to the birth, so he was used to spending time with them and going out on special outings.
2) Avoid any major transitions for the older child around the birth. I made sure to transfer my son out of the crib months before his baby sister would use it. Where I didn’t have as much forethought or control, was that he started preschool just 2 weeks after sister’s birth. Let me just say that it was NOT a smooth transition.
3) Read lots of books about new babies with your child/children. It really does help them know what to expect.
4) Get your child a big sibling gift. A new toy will bring excitement, make them feel special, and may take a lot of their focus, making your life a little easier.
5) Have a doll for your child to learn how to treat the baby, and also so they feel like they have their own special thing to care for while you are caring for the baby.
6) Cut yourself some slack. Don’t worry about a messy house or making a gourmet meal; just take care of yourself and your kids. The rest can be dealt with another day (or week or month!).