The arrival of a new little brother or sister can be a confusing and even scary time for a child, and figuring out how to prepare a young child for what is sure to be a time of massive change can be an overwhelming task for parents. Truth is, there's probably no way to have your child--especially an only child--be 100 percent ready for the arrival of a new little sibling, just like there's no way for a first-time parent to be 100 percent ready for their first baby. It's one of those things that you just can't fully understand until it's actually happening. However, there are several things you can do to make it a bit easier for everyone involved. The key is to always be open and honest with older siblings. Read on for more tips.

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1. Use pictures. When you announce to your child that you're expecting another, show them some of their own baby photos, from birth onwards. These visuals will help them to understand that there will be a very new, very little person in the house very soon. When they see how helpless they were, it will cue them into what to expect from the new baby.

2. Bring them to check-ups. Bring your child to your prenatal check ups, where they can hear the baby's heartbeat and potentially see him or her on an ultrasound screen. Again, these sounds and images will help make the pending arrival more real and less abstract.

3. Give details. You don't need to tell your toddler the gory details of birth, but you should explicitly explain that his little brother or sister is growing inside your belly and that one day the baby will come out and will live outside of your belly with the rest of the family. Reiterate this often throughout your pregnancy. Also, explain that the baby will need a lot of mommy's time when she arrives and that you will need your older child to be a big kid and play by himself sometimes.

4. Get your child involved. Let your older child help out with baby preparations, such as decorating the nursery, choosing a name, picking out lovies and shopping for clothing. Your child will be excited to show the new baby these things when he arrives and will help him feel that his opinions are an important part of preparing for the baby.

5. Buy a gift from the baby. Buy a special gift for your older child to give him when the baby is born. Everyone will be bringing gifts for you and the new baby and that could make your other child or children feel left out. Have something special to give him and tell him it's from the baby. 

6. Have dates. Set aside time during the week--even just an hour once a week--for you to have some one-on-one time with your older child. Recruit Daddy or Abuela to watch the baby for a short while so you can reconnect with your older child: take a walk with him or buy him an ice cream cone. Anything that lets him know that you are still his mama too, that you love him as much as always and that he is just as special to you as the baby.

Image via Thinkstock

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About the author

Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is a full-time wife, full-time mom, and freelance journalist trying to balance it all and looking forward to exploring the world with her son and husband. In her rare spare moments, she's a pop culture junkie and kitchen devotee who makes a mean cupcake!

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