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Depending on the age of the child, preparing him or her for a new sibling can vary. For instance, young toddlers around the age of 15 months do not understand the concept of a sibling or the role of a newborn baby in their life. Toddlers around 2 to 3 years old, though, can understand the concept a little better so it is easier to prepare them for the arrival of a new sibling.
First, as your belly begins to bulge, you may want to refer often to your belly as "the baby." This will give your child some idea of the type of change that is going on within your body. It may also engage your child in the development of the baby and get him or her excited for his or her new baby sister or brother.
Next, it is helpful to watch videos pertaining to the arrival of a sibling. Doing this together can help get your child ready for the new baby while being present will afford the opportunity to get answers to the questions your child may have. There are several cartoons and kid's shows that are geared in this direction. They can help your child realize that newborns are fragile, they sleep a lot, they cry a lot, and they won't come out "ready to play" as many kids might assume. Also, watching reality programs that cover real families preparing for a new baby can help your child have more insight into what happens to you when you go into the hospital. This can help your child be less afraid to leave you when you're in labor.
Many hospitals also have classes for young children. These classes can help kids know what to expect during the process, including give them some familiarity with the hospital itself. In these classes, they learn how to bottle feed, change diapers, and be gentle around a fragile newborn. Most hospitals also give these children a tour of the labor and delivery floor, allowing them to view the nursery and see the equipment first hand.
Another good way to prepare your child for a new sibling is by going to the store and buying a "real to life" baby doll while you are in your last month of pregnancy. Showing your child how to interact with the baby doll can help coach them on how they'll need to interact with the new baby.
Whichever method you chose, try to include your child in on other things as well. Picking clothes out for the new baby, and choosing nursery themes or colors are just some of the ways you can get your child involved in the process.
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