Your cozy little threesome is about to become a party of four. Even though you’ve been psyching up your child for the big change, you might feel a little (okay, a lot) worried about the disruption that’s about to happen. Here, real moms of two or more share helpful tips, funny moments, and honest mistakes they made along the way.

Little Girl Daughter Touching Pregnant Mothers Belly
Credit: Melanie Acevedo

Sibling Prep Do’s

“About six months before my daughter was born, we moved my son into a big-boy bed in a new room. He picked out paint colors and helped set up the nursery. It made him feel part of it all. To this day, he proudly talks about giving Rosie his old room.” —Jenny Everett, Charleston, South Carolina

“I have three kids, and each time we went through their baby books and showed them what it was like when they were born. We talked about what they wore, where they slept, how they ate, and how tiny they were. When our third was about to be born, my oldest son helped with the transition by telling his little brother what he was like as a newborn.” —Susanna Donald, Foley, Alabama

“We wanted to break the news in a fun way. My kids love getting presents (what kid doesn’t?), so I wrapped up a huge box and set it on the front porch where they’d see it when they got home from school. When they opened it, pink balloons emerged with a sign that said BABY SISTER ARRIVING IN AUGUST!” —Kim Ritger, Decatur, Georgia

“We watched episodes of the TLC show A Baby Story. It was funny to see my son imitate the midwives and doctors encouraging the mom to ‘push, push.’ It definitely answered all of his questions!” —Julie Shingadia, Suwanee, Georgia

“After her sister was born, my older daughter asked for the baby to go back to the hospital. I could tell she felt upset, so I tried to empower her by saying, ‘When people come over, they need to ask your permission to hold the baby. Make sure they’ve washed their hands, okay?’ It helped her feel like being a big sister was an important job.” —Natasha Swords, Topanga, California

What Didn’t Help

“My son became obsessed with calling the baby Lucy while she was in my belly. But when my daughter was born, we named her Rosie. I realized, ‘He is going to have a meltdown and we may have to change her name!’ Thankfully, he was too distracted by a new present to care much.” —Everett

“We potty trained our oldest a couple of months before the baby was born, and then he went through a major regression afterward. I wish I had done potty training a little earlier or waited until baby #2 was already a few months old. I didn’t have the capacity to deal with so many potty issues and a newborn.” —Donald

“My 4-year-old son threw up the night we got home from the hospital. My fear of germs was so great that I left my husband to deal with him exclusively. My son ended up feeling really rejected—he still talks about it and he’s almost eight now. At the time, I couldn’t think of anything worse than a sick baby or mom, but I should’ve also considered his feelings.” —Shingadia 

“When my twin sons were born, my 2-year-old daughter became clingy, which drove me crazy. I’d push her to play with other kids at the playground instead of hovering by me, but she was just anxious. I wish I had made time to take her places just the two of us.” —Monika Boyer, Atlanta

Parents Magazine