This is actually a wonderful time to bring a new baby into the house because your first child's world no longer revolves around you and your husband exclusively. She probably has grandparents, cousins, friends, and preschool to focus on, so she's less likely to be rattled by the transition. She's also much more capable of understanding what a baby is, so share the good news with her as soon as you're comfortable making it public (since she'll probably tell anyone willing to listen). But that's not to say there won't be a few bumps along the way. Like you said, your daughter has been an only child for quite some time and that's changing. To make the transition as painless as possible, use some of these simple strategies:
• Be prepared to answer lots of sensitive questions like, "how did the baby get in your tummy?" or "how will the baby come out?" Since she's not ready for the full birds and bees talk just yet, explain the process realistically but simply. For example, "Mommy and Daddy made a baby together, and the baby is growing inside Mommy."
• Buy her a realistic doll to play with and care for before the real thing arrives.
• Let her help select the baby's crib, decide where the furniture will go, and display her artwork around the nursery.
• If she'll be sharing her room, it's important that she have her own space. Let her choose which side of the room she wants.
• If she's moving to a different room, make the switch at least a month before the baby arrives so she doesn't feel displaced.
• Let your child suggest names for the baby.
• Make childcare arrangements well in advance so your daughter knows exactly who will be watching her while you're away at the hospital.
• Look at a calendar together regularly and have a baby countdown. Let your child try to guess the baby's birthday. --Rosemary Black