12 Things to Do with Your First Child Before the Second One Arrives

expectant mom, new sibling, second child, things to do with your first child before your second one arrives

During your second pregnancy, it’s normal to have mixed feelings as your party of three nears its end. While there are even sweeter days ahead, you may feel melancholy and nervous about the change. How do you savor the waning weeks, while soothing any trepidation your child may be feeling? We came up with 12 ways to make this time memorable and reassuring.

Make your child king (or queen) for a day.

Designate a day when your kiddo is unequivocally in charge (within reason). After making it clear that she can’t, say, shave the dog, let her dictate what you do, where you go, and what you eat for an entire day. (Just keep reminding yourself this is a one-off. There is no harm in eating marshmallows for breakfast just this once.)

Be spontaneous.

Since spur-of-the-moment is not going to be in your vocabulary for a little while, surprise him with a favorite adventure you’ve planned for the day.

Take a family portrait.

Capture the final moments of your “first family” for posterity—and for your child. She’ll likely enjoy posing between her parents. And order a framed print to hang in her room.

Pick out a big kid bed.

Not only does leaving the crib behind have a practical urgency, but it will make your child feel important and grown-up. Do this sooner rather than later to help ensure that last-minute jitters don’t make him cling to the crib. Also have him choose his bedding—even if it clashes with the walls you just painted.

Make something for the nursery.

Explain that you need help decorating the baby’s room and suggest she create a masterpiece in whatever medium she prefers. Alternatively, browse through her artwork and ask if she’d be willing to donate one to the nursery.

Define “the baby.”

Make sure your child knows exactly who you’ll be bringing home from the hospital—i.e. an immobile, sleepy, wee creature, rather than a playmate. If you can’t introduce him to a newborn, show him videos and pictures online.

Come up with a secret language.

Even if she’s 5 or 6 years old, she’s not yet able to clearly express herself when she feels jealous, worried, or confused. Come up with a simple signal—a word or a hand gesture—your child can use when she needs your reassurance.

Take a sibling-moon.

An inexpensive yet intimate mini vacation is bound to make your child feel special. Plan a trip to see relatives who can shower your soon-to-be big sib with 1-on-1 attention. Or hole up in a nearby hotel and order room service for three.

Answer his questions.

As much as you may try to hide any nervousness, you’re likely acting differently. The best thing you can do is explain as much as you can about everything that is going on. Answer his questions as completely and honestly as possible.

Read her stories.

Nightly story time may be difficult to maintain for a couple weeks after birth, so use the opportunity now to prepare her for what’s ahead. Let your child choose a few books about becoming a big sibling and turn the pages slowly so she has time to ask questions.

Go shopping.

Let your child pick out a welcome gift for the new baby, and then select a present for him. (T-shirts are popular, as are keepsakes or a toy your child has had his eye on.) Whether you frame it as a gift from the baby or from you as parents, it’s a way of celebrating your child’s transition to becoming a big sister or brother.

Pack her a bag.

Even if your child will stay at home with friends or family, prep a bag for her that makes her feel like an official member of Team Baby. Pack pajamas, toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush, and a change of clothes. Then tuck in a note about how much you love her—and how much you know the baby will too.

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Christina Vercelletto is a former editor at NYMetroParents, Parenting, Scholastic Parent & Child, and Woman’s Day. She lives on Long Island with her kids, a chiweenie, Pickles, and a 20-pound calico, Chub-Chub.

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