A Firstborn of 4 or 5
A child in pre-K or kindergarten comprehends what's going on, and with that understanding can come anxiety. "She might be curious about how giving birth will work physically and therefore be more worried about your aches and pains," says Korfmacher. "Think through how you can best reassure her." For instance, hearing you talk about the baby kicking might set her little brow furrowing; be sure to emphasize that it's normal. Invite her to ask questions. At this age, knowledge is power, so take her to a prenatal visit and consider a sibling-preparation class. My friend Catherine took Ella to see the hospital maternity unit, and Ella got to pass by the nursery and see a newborn. One caveat: Don't discuss the medical aspects of your birth with your child -- the details may needlessly stress her out.
Even as you prepare for the baby, keep the focus on your big kid. After you set up the nursery, perhaps update her bedroom too. Once the baby arrives, you'll want to work to maintain your older child's social contacts through playdates and after-school classes. "Peers are very important at this age," says Clauss-Ehlers.
Now that my girls are 4 and 2, they're as thick as thieves most of the time -- and arch enemies the rest. It's a juggling act for me, but watching them learn from each other reminds me that a sibling is the greatest gift I could have given to either one of them.