Bringing a new baby home to your family is a much bigger transition than you think. Being prepared and planning for this transition will help ease everyone into the newness of a larger family. Here are my top tips for preparing siblings for the arrival of a new baby (based on my own experiences.)

1. Read books on the topic

Be careful, I have found some that have a negative tone and I try to stay away from that. I want the kids to know the truth; that the baby will cry and won’t be able to play at first but at the same time I don’t want them hearing about how the older sister didn’t like the baby sister.

2. Give a gift…

…to your older child (ren) that is “from” the baby. Kids love presents and if the baby is giving them a new toy? That baby just won his or her new siblings heart!

3. Give Compliments

Compliment your older children on what a good job they are doing helping with the baby–be specific about what it is you are happy they are doing. “You are a fantastic big sister! You helped get diapers when I was changing the baby. Thank you!”

4. Carve out quality time for each of your children.

I know this sounds sooooo hard but at the same time it’s sooooo important. Even if it’s reading books to your oldest child for 15 minutes before bed without any other siblings around. This kind of quiet/quality time allows your older children to bring up any concerns they may have about the new baby and it reminds them of how much they are loved.

5. Visitors play a role in the transition too!

Encourage visitors to play with older siblings instead of simply “Ooohing and Ahhing” over the new baby.

6. Be Prepared

Our daughter had almost an entire week of naughty behavior when we brought our youngest home. We were shocked that she was acting out so badly. Then one day it just stopped. Be patient with your older children, the unknown of a new baby can be scary and confusing to them. We made sure to carve out extra time with our oldest. My husband did the unthinkable, he took the baby to her first 3 day appointment on his own (he said the nurses at the practive were very impressed) and I had a few quiet hours at home alone with my big kid!