The joy of welcoming a new baby into your family can be stressful for older siblings. Different children react to the news of a new sibling differently based on a variety of factors. It partly depends on age, partly on the child's personality, and partly on the child's relationship with their parents. And other factors can play a role as well.
Once you've told an older child, or children, that they have a new baby brother or sister on the way, it's important to make sure they feel included. Many older siblings just need reassurance that they'll still get attention and love from their parents after the baby arrives, and they'll jump at the chance to play a role in preparations.
Decorating The Nursery
Ask older siblings for help decorating the nursery. You can give small children simple tasks or let them play in the nursery while you're there to supervise. Older children can help pick out decorations and colors or choose a theme.
You might move your older child to a new room or get them a new bed so the baby can have the crib. If that's the case, involve them in redecorating their room as well as the nursery. They can even help with painting if they're old enough.
Invite Them To The Sprinkle
Make sure to involve your older child or children if your friends are throwing a baby “sprinkle” (it's like a mini-shower for moms who've already had at least one child). Seeing their home invaded with guests whose only focus is the new baby can make the green-eyed monster surface with a vengeance.
Include older siblings among the party guests and give them a role in planning or hosting. Even a small role, like stacking presents until they're opened, lets them feel included. Also, encourage guests to talk with older children. Some guests might bring gifts for the older child, but even if they don't consider having a few on hand so baby isn't the only one getting presents.
Explain What's Happening
Make sure to provide your older kids with age-appropriate explanations about your pregnancy. You can even take them to prenatal doctor's visits if you want. Seeing ultrasounds and hearing you talk with your doctor or midwife can help older children understand what's happening with the new baby.
Some hospitals offer sibling birth classes that provide orientation for kids who will soon be older brothers and sisters. These classes teach them how to hold the new baby safely and provide a space to talk about how they feel about their new sibling.
Plan For After-Baby
After the baby arrives, you'll need to make sure you plan for time alone with your new baby as well as time spent with your older children. Have toys on hand to distract older children when you have to give the baby your undivided attention. Also, make sure you spend time with your older children one-on-one, such as when the baby is sleeping.
You won't be able to plan for every single reaction an older child might have to a new baby, but including them in preparations and making sure they know you value them goes a long way toward smoothing the transition.