Help keep your big kids at ease as they welcome the family's newest addition and learn to be big brothers and big sisters.
Pretend play. Let your child care for a baby doll that you can interact with as well, says Jennifer Malone, who teaches a class called Second Time Moms for Isis Parenting, a Boston-based chain of centers offering prenatal classes, new mom classes, and more. This way, they can see in advance the care and attention the baby will need beforehand.
Read up. There's no shortage of books about welcoming home a new baby (The New Baby, I'm a Big Brother/Sister, and Waiting for Baby are just a few) that you can read to your kids before your newborn's arrival. After you finish reading, encourage your kids to ask any questions or share concerns they might have about the new baby and how life is going to change once he or she arrives.
Make it a celebration. Coming home from the hospital is a special occasion, and you want to make sure your other kids are a part of the big day. When you arrive, let daddy carry the baby so you can eagerly greet the older child/children, suggests Dr. Lisa Noll, a child psychologist with Texas Children's Hospital Psychology Service. "You can also have a gift exchange between baby and the older child/children. Let your older child pick out a special gift for the new baby in advance."
Remind guests it's not all about baby. When visitors come to the house to see the new arrival, ask them to greet the older child/children first. "Remind them as well that the child/children may want to talk about something different than the new baby," says Dr. Noll.
Spend special time with each kid. Having a newborn in the house is going to through everyone off their routine, but don't forget to put aside some one-on-one time for each child in the house. Remember, it's quality over quantity here (especially when you're utterly exhausted). But taking time out to read a book, complete a puzzle or simply listen to a story about what happened at school that day will remind your kids that mom and dad are still there for them.
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