1. Timing is important. Choosing when to tell other family members about a pregnancy depends a great deal on each child's age. Your two year old will not understand what you are saying if you don’t look pregnant. Nine months is almost half his lifetime and way too long to be told you are pregnant. Wait until you are about five months along. At that point he can see where the baby is, and it gives him enough time to digest the news.
2. Be inclusive. It’s important to include your children in your pregnancy. Let them feel your belly, especially if they can feel the baby kick. That will help them understand that a real person is about to be born. When you begin to set up the nursery or buy things for the baby, let your children be involved. They can help you choose colors for the nursery, brainstorm names, and pick out bottles and rattles. It’s important that they feel part of the process.
3. Make them feel special. Be sure to spend quality time with your child leading up to the birth, making each child know how important he is to you and your family. Stress that because he is older, you will need his help when the baby comes. The new addition will have so much to learn from his big brother and you can’t wait to see what a loving, caring big brother he will be.
4. Ask permission to take your older children’s outgrown baby things. For example, if you plan to move your three year into a bed so the baby can have his crib, be careful about how you do that. Begin by telling your toddler that he is big enough now that he can get a big boy bed of his own. Let him help you choose special sheets, pillows, and blankets so that he feels ownership of his new bed. Be sure he is in the bed at least a month before the baby arrives. Then, you can ask him if the new baby can sleep in his old crib since he is a big boy now and won’t need it anymore. Make him feel special to be able to share something so important with his new sibling.
5. Continue to shower your kids with attention after the baby comes. While everyone’s focus will be on the new arrival, be sure to let your older children know how important and helpful they are during this crazy time. If company comes with gifts for the baby but not the siblings, have a stash of small items that will be special to the older kids. When the company leaves, give your older child a puzzle, coloring book, or similar item as thanks for being such an understanding big brother. Try to take some time when the baby is sleeping to spend quality time with the other kids.
6. Encourage the children to appreciate each other. As your family grows, it is even more important that your kids get along with one another, and truly love each other. Sure, there will always be sibling rivalry, but try to find ways to build their relationship as opposed to making them feel like they need to compete for your time and attention.
Congratulations on your new addition! When the baby comes you will be exhausted and there will be chaos for a while. The more you can prepare, the better off everyone in the family will be.