When I was pregnant with my second baby, I felt horribly guilty that I was having a another child. I was worried that my first would resent his baby sister and he would feel neglected and unloved. But when the time actually came, my sweet little boy was an amazing big brother and made a *fairly* flawless transition to the role of older sibling. While each child is different and will handle things their own way, these are the techniques I used to help my first-born adjust to having a sister:
Prep, prep, prep
There is a lot of advice about not talking to your little one about your pregnancy. Apparently it’s too long of a process and they can’t conceptualize it or something like that. Well, I didn’t really care. I decided that my child needed to know why he couldn’t kick me in the stomach, so we told him I had a baby in my belly. Yes, that meant his preschool teacher found out I was pregnant from my son, but I think it was a good thing to start preparing him early. We could talk about what babies do (cry, eat, sleep) and how awesome it is to be a “big boy.” We bought an awesome book (“I’m a Big Brother”) that we would read periodically to remind him about what was going to happen when we had a baby there, too.
Make introductions at the hospital (or wherever you choose to birth) while you aren’t holding or feeding the baby
We opted to have our son come to the hospital to see the baby. Since this was the first time he had been apart from me for more than a day, it was important that I was able to greet him without anyone else interfering (i.e., the baby). So I wanted the baby to be in the bassinet when he came to my room. I asked my parents to warn me when they were coming in case the baby was nursing. And instead of being cranky that someone else had my attention, the first thing he asked me was where I had put the baby. And by doing that, HE was the one to hold the baby the first time he met her (obviously with my help).
Make the first visit extra special
We also had a gift for him at the hospital so it would feel like a celebratory day for him. Meeting a new sibling might not seem fun, so I wanted there to be another reason for him to be excited in case the first meeting went poorly. You don’t have to get a gift, but come up with something that excites your kid. Just in case. They likely won’t think a new baby is nearly as exciting as you do.
Remember that the older child knows you aren’t paying attention to them
If your baby is sleeping peacefully (or is awake and peaceful!), devote some time to the older kid. The infant doesn’t know that you’re ignoring them, but your older child does. They used to be the center of your world, and now they have to share that. So while it is important to bond with the new baby, it’s also important to not forget that your older child needs a lot from you too. It can be tempting to spend all your time with the baby, but trust me, your older child will know you are ignoring them for their sibling. Be sure to make time to hang out with them, too. (Even better if it can happen without the baby sometimes.)
I’m sure there are many techniques you can use to help your little one adjust, but if you are pregnant with your second and are feeling anxious like I was, these might help!