This is one topic that I'm learning about every day. I'm now 20weeks and am getting more into preparing for the new baby. My daughter is a big part of this as I want her to be excited, not so jelous, and ready for when the baby comes home.
I think that the sooner you tell your children about a new addition the better. My husband and I told Katheryn from day one that there was a new baby coming. I started showing her the Baby Story shows, so she could see and hear what a new baby was. I think that no matter how little they are, they can undetstand in their own way.
My advice is simple and sweet.
1. Tell you children as soon as possible. I know my daughter did not understand that we were having a baby and all the technical stuff, but we told her.
2. Take your children with you to the Dr. We took Katheryn to see the baby, when they did the confirmation and it helped her to connect the baby being with mommy. Also, she has come to me to hear the heart beat and when she heard it, and I told her that was the babys heart, she got do excited.
3. Have them kiss and talk to your tummy. Let them feel the baby move and kick and tell them what is happening. Tell your child(ren) that they did the same thing, tell them stories about when you were pregnant with them. Give them something to have in common with the baby before the baby is born. This works two fold, one is the new baby can get used to their siblings voices, but it also starts teaching your other child(ren) what they can do with the baby and to help create a bond between them. My daughter loves to give my tummy kisses and say hi to baby. To her it's a great thing, since she can interact with the baby, she offers the baby drinks and food and just loves to talk to the baby. Even though she can't see the baby, she knows the baby exists and thru out the day she will ask to kiss the baby.
4. Have your child(ren) help pick things out for the baby. When the new bundle comes your time is going to be taken up alot by the baby. Having your children help you prepare will show them how important it is to give the baby attention, and they will feel like they have a say how to help care for the baby.
5. Teach them how to care for the baby, in ways that they are able too. Depending on their age, there are many things that a child can do, or help you do. You can teach them where the diapers and wipes are, so when you have to change the baby they can get the supplies for you. If they are old enough, maybe the can hold the baby or even feed or help dress. Use a doll to teach them how to be gentle and how to do those tasks. It will make them feel very special knowing that they can help to care for the baby.
6. Set aside time to talk about them about the new baby and how they feel, what they wish they could do, and if they are upset about anything. After all, your not the only one having this baby, the whole family is.
The more you can involve you child(ren) before the baby comes, the easier it will be when baby actually comes home. I have had nothing but fun with my daughter and teaching her about the baby coming and taking her to look at clothes, talk to the baby and go to the Dr with me. I can tell she already loves her new sibling, and she will be even better when the baby is born.
If you have any other tips or advise, please add a blog here. This is one of the most imporant changes in a family and to help bring peace and comfort to all is the goal. It's true it takes a community to raise a child, and that starts in the family. Everyone in the family plays a critical role and siblings, I think, play the biggest. Let them know, by showing them, that their voice and opinion are very important. You never know, they can many times see things we don't when it comes to what their siblings need or want. Blessings to all that are entering into this new part of life!