When my mom was pregnant, she asked me if I wanted a brother or a sister. I guess she was hoping to see where my little brain was at with the whole sibling situation. I was five and perfectly comfy being an only child.
"I want a sister." I amended, "A big sister." The kid across the street had a big sister who always stuck up for her and hooked her up with toys — a sweet deal, if I’d ever heard one.
Unfortunately, mom neglected to mention that siblings weren't made to order. When she first introduced me to my baby brother, I was totally bummed and asked her to return him, as if he were a defective department store doll.
Although things eventually improved between us, my baby brother and I got off to a rough start. So when I was pregnant with my second kid, I thought a lot about how to introduce my oldest to the concept of big brotherhood. Here's what I came up with:
You get what you get and you don't get upset. I told my son from the get-go that we had no control over the sex of the baby, what she'd look like or how she'd be. He knew straight out of the gate that she would be her own person and thus, had no preconceived expectations about her that could disappoint him.
You aren't the only big brother or sister on the block. As it turned out, my son's friends were all having baby brothers and sisters. By hanging out with them, he was peripherally exposed to navigating life with baby in tow. What's more, it got him psyched to have a baby sibling to call his own.
You will always be important and involved. Reassure your big kid, in any and every way, that they can't be replaced. Involve them in preparations for the new baby. Cuddle up at bedtime and read positive stories about siblings, so that they grasp the concept of the relationship. And, most importantly, be sure to make special one-on-one time with them before the baby comes. Even if they are too young to remember it happened, you always will.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.