These suggestions were recently posted on my local mom's group website... I thought that they'd be helpful to those of you who are expecting. I wish that I had this a few months ago!
- Move your older child out of the crib well in advance of the baby's arrival (or wait at least a few months after the baby is born). It is important not to give the message that the older child is being "replaced."
- Explain plans about who will take care of your older child and where the child will stay while Mommy is at the hospital.
- Let older children help decorate the nursery, set out toys, etc.
- Show your older children pictures of when they were a newborn. Tell the story of the day that they were born.
- Let your older children look at clothing, shoes, and socks that they wore.
- Buy a special doll and show how to hold a baby, change diapers, etc.
- Have a "gift" that the new baby can "give" to the older sibling when they meet the first time.
- Stash away a few small "big brother/big sister" gifts that can be given when guests arrive with presents for the new baby. Let older children open gifts for the new baby if they want to.
- Read books about being a big brother or big sister.
- Plan a small birthday part for the new baby at the birthing center/hospital. A few cupcakes and balloons are all you need.
- Take pictures of the older child (with and without the baby) when photographing.
- Put together a big brother/big sister busy bag filled with activities (crayons, paper, small blocks, simple snacks, etc.). Bring it to the hospital to help pass the time while visiting. You can also use it at home to help an impatient older child wait a few minutes while Mommy or Daddy are busy taking care of the baby.
- Let Daddy or another grown-up carry the new baby into the house so that Mommy's arms are free to hug big brothers and big sisters.
- Before sitting down to feed the baby, offer drinks and snacks to the older child, or have them where the child can easily get them by himself or herself. A hungry or thirsty child will not be able to wait very patiently until the baby is done eating.
- Try to keep some routines and rituals the same, especially bedtime.
Do you have any tips to add to the list?