Preparing Kids for the Arrival of a New Baby
No occasion is more joyous than the arrival of a new baby. But if your family already includes a big brother or sister, that little bundle of joy may not be received so warmly by siblings, who suddenly find themselves coping with a demanding newborn who seems intent on stealing all of mom and dad's attention. The good news is that there are things you can do ahead of time to limit sibling jealousy of a new baby, and to help prepare kids for their new role.
Preparing siblings for the arrival of a new baby
1. Prep them about what to expect ahead of time so that the potential lifestyle changes aren't such a shock when the baby arrives. Talk with them about some of the things you'll be doing to take care of baby, such as making bottles and changing diapers, or having to get up in the middle of the night to tend to baby.
2. If you get the opportunity, engage in some role play with them. Get a realistic-looking baby doll and play pretend to take care of it just as you would a new baby. Show children how you would change a diaper, have them help you make a bottle, show them some of the things you might do to calm a baby.
Getting kids excited about the arrival of a new baby
1. When you plan your baby shower, also make arrangements to throw a separate "big brother" or "big sister" party for your older kid(s). Make it a celebration of their soon-to-be big brother or sister role. Get a cake or cupcakes, invite over some of their friends for a piņata, and maybe even buy your child a gift or two. (Just don't overdo it...you don't want to go so far as making it like a birthday.) During the party, do some of the fun baby-themed games or activities that are often a staple during adult baby showers. Kids will love having diaper changing races or tasting contests to rate the taste of baby food. Have big brother or sister give a speech about what kind of big brother or sister they'll be. Not only does this get them excited about the new baby, but it reassures them they aren't being forgotten, and will help them relish their new role as a big brother or sister.
2. Have them help you pick out baby things and involve them in other minor decisions about the new baby. It utilizes a classic principle of psychology: the more vested interest you place in something, the closer you will identify with it. This is why religions often require proselytizing; it's not about converting non-believers (it rarely does), but solidifying the stake practitioners have in the religion. The more they preach to others, the bigger their vested interest becomes in those beliefs. You can use the same psychology trick with kids. By letting them pick out baby things or help prepare for the arrival of a new baby, such efforts are giving them a vested interest in the new baby, and the more mental energy they devote to the cause, the larger their devotion to the baby will grow. So find ways to involve them in the planning process. It will also help keep them from feeling left out or alientated from what is going on.
3. Regularly talk about all the fun and exciting things they can do as an older brother or sister: Watching the funny things baby does, teaching him/her to do different things, or simply showing baby all the wonderful things there are in the world and watching her discover them for the first time.
Just don't overdo it and give them too rosy of a picture, as this can backfire when the baby arrives and the grand illusions crumble. Explain that the baby won't do much of anything at first, other than eat, sleep, cry and poop, and that there will be trials mixed with the triumphs.