If you have one child, I’m sure at this point you, your husband and your little one are now comfortable with the family of three you have become. Your first child is currently the center of your world, your days are planned around his nap schedule, all toys in the house belong to him, and all books read are picked by him. When you have a second child, all of this will change.

The adjustment of adding a second child to your family is not only something that the parents need to prepare for, you should also prepare your little one for the changes that will come with the arrival of a sibling. The experience of a new addition to any family can be worrying and confusing for siblings. Coping with the new situation and emotions that arise can be very challenging.

Here are some simple things we are doing with Sage to help prepare him for the arrival of his baby sister:

Read Books About Siblings

There are some great books out there that deal with the issue of preparing for a baby. A great series is “My New Baby,” illustrated by Rachel Fuller. This series of four books deals with the anticipation for waiting for the new baby, the excitement of the arrival itself, and the beginnings of the special relationship between siblings. I think it’s also beneficial to get a big brother or sister specific book to help build the connection your little one is about to be a big brother. We have “What Brothers Do Best,” by Laura Numeroff. Sage really enjoys reading this book and it opens up additional conversation about what he will like doing best about being a big brother. If you have a daughter, I’ve heard great things about “I am a Big Sister,” by Caroline Jayne Church.

Let Your Child Interact With Your Pregnant Belly

Find ways for your firstborn to interact with your growing tummy. Let them talk, kiss and rub your belly to remind him that there’s a sibling growing in there who will arrive soon. This is something that Sage is proud of, every time I ask him to “give his sister a kiss” he runs over, lifts up my shirt and kisses my belly. I’m excited for the stage when our baby really starts moving and Sage will be able to feel the movements of his sister. I think this interaction will help him realize there is a baby growing inside me, though he might not fully grasp the concept that she will soon be on the outside to join our family.

Bring Your Child to the Doctor Appointments

Paul and I try to bring Sage to our doctor appointments so he can be apart of the ultrasound experience. Even though we are not quite sure he fully understands what is going on, he pays attention closely and likes hearing his sister’s heartbeat. After the appointment we review the photos from the ultrasounds and try to reemphasize that is his baby sister in the photos.

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Teach About Baby With a Doll

Toddlerhood is an ideal age to play pretend for many activities. A great way to prepare your little one for the arrival of a baby is by playing pretend with a baby doll. Show them how to be gentle with the baby, give baby doll a  pretend bath and let your child rock and put the baby to bed. Maybe the baby doll even sits in during story time. Finding ways to incorporate the baby doll into your normal routine is fun because it encourages your child’s imagination while also helping him or her prepare for the new baby.

Get Your Child Involved With the New Nursery

Most toddlers like nothing more than being Mommy’s little helper. Encourage this desire to help by involving them in the creation of the new nursery for your second baby. Going to the hardware store is a fun activity. They can go with you and help you pick the perfect paint color for the new nursery. I’m sure they will also enjoy picking out the perfect stuffed animals or other toys for their soon-to-be sibling. This involvement will help them understand the family is  preparing an additional room for someone other than them and hopefully prepare them for the arrival of their new sibling.

Obviously, all of the preparation in the world cannot prepare you or your child for life after your new addition arrives, but I imagine it can only help if your child is aware the change is coming by helping you make room in the family and your home for this special new person. A sibling is a truly unique and beautiful relationship, your preparation with your child is the beginning of this loving and life-changing experience.