What's the best way of preparing our 3-year-old for the arrival of the new baby?
We prepared our daughter for the arrival of her baby sister by starting early in expectations. She went to a lot of prenatal appointments, especially when we would have ultrasounds. I think this made my swelling belly seem more like an actual baby was inside. We bought lots of books like "Our New Baby" that helped her understand what life was going to be like when the baby arrived. We had lots of talks about how great a helper she was going to be, and about all the things she was going to be able to do. She was so excited about getting diapers and wipes once the baby was born, she didn't know that she "should" be jealous.
Sandy Bruegger in St. Louis, MO
We are expecting our third child and have told the other children many things that will take place. We remind them of when they were small and all the time a baby requires. Prepare early.
J. Williams in Newport News, Virginia
Before our third baby arrived, we had the other two children accepting small but helpful daily tasks. For example, they could open doors, choose vitamins, get the newspaper, the mail, choose a seat in the van before we got out the door and other significant helpful duties. Remind them of what will need to happen around and for the baby to make "everyone" happy.
Stephanie Alexander in Linden, TN
From Jodie: Try to attend new sibling classes. Some couples attend several classes at different hospitals during the pregnancy to help smooth the transition for arrival of the new baby. This helps the sibling realize a baby really will be here soon and a few realistic things to expect. As long as your little one is not sick, and it's OK with your friends, visit families who have new babies. Make sure you and your friend agree on specific rules before you agree to meet.
Role-play and model good behavior. Speak in soft tones and move gently with the preschooler. If you've allowed rough play before now, that's OK. Just begin slowly to show your preschooler there's a time to be playful and a time to be calm around babies.
Read books and watch and listen to videos on the sound babies might make. Explain some of the reasons the baby may cry and why. Small children often become upset when others cry. If you can only role-play with a baby doll, so be it.
Show and tell how the baby is growing. While you might not want to overwhelm toddlers or preschoolers with details, show any pictures regarding a sonogram you might receive and discuss the growth of the baby each month.
Explain who will watch your child while mommy is having the baby. Put a picture of your toddler/preschooler in the baby's bedroom with a sign that says Big Brother or Big Sister. Help them to draw a picture of a baby (or use sonogram) and hang in their room with a date of arrival. Make sure your child knows the baby could come early or late, which would change the trip to the other person's house. Stay positive and never forget to give lots of hugs and kisses to the big brother or big sister.