If you’re pregnant with your second child, it’s time to be thinking about how to prepare your first child to deal with “not being an only child” anymore. This can be a difficult transition for any child, and most, regardless of age, have some adjustments to make. Here are some suggestions to help your child be prepared.
· Talk about how special it is to be a big brother or sister. Discuss the baby in terms of how important the older sibling will be in its life. This is your child’s chance to be the big kid, which is usually a very appealing idea.
· If you’ve been thinking about putting your child into a preschool program, now is the time. Don’t wait until after the baby comes, or she might feel like you’re trying to get rid of her. She should have time to make friends and get adjusted before the baby comes, and then she will enjoy the chance to get away.
· Get her used to being away from you. If your child spends most of her waking hours in your care, it’s time to start having someone else take over some of this time for you. Maybe start using a sitter a little more, or sending her to play at a friend’s. This way, when the baby starts to demand your attention, she will be accustomed to having other caretakers.
· Don’t plan any major changes for her right after the baby is born. The adjustment to the baby is plenty, so don’t try potty training, or changing her sleeping arrangements during this time. If you can’t get these things accomplished before the baby comes, plan to put it off a few months.
· Familiarize her with babies in general, particularly the amount of care they require. Talk to her about when she was a baby, and all the things that she did. Then when the new baby comes, she will have something to relate to.
· Let her assist you with any baby preparations that she would like to help with, but don’t force her. She might think its fun to pick out nursery items, for example.
· Prepare her for the time you’ll be spending in the hospital, and explain what the situation will be like. If you can make it special for her, so much the better. When my daughter was born, we had arranged for my four year old son’s favorite aunt and uncle to come and stay with him at our house while I was in the hospital. He was looking so forward to their visit; he hardly noticed I was away.
No matter how well you prepare your child, there is bound to be some difficulty in adjusting to the new baby. My son thought his little sister was cool, but he didn’t much care for the fact that I was her Mommy, too. It takes a little time, but things work out well in the end. And, anything you can do to prepare them ahead of time will only make the transition easier.