My son was almost three when his baby brother was born. Here are some things I did to prepare him for the new addition:
I bought him a baby doll. He loved to play with his stuffed animals, but I wanted him to have a doll that maybe he would treat with a little more love and care than he treated his animals. We talked about things that babies needed, like food and clean diapers, and I showed him how to be gentle with his doll just like he would with a baby. Dolls aren’t just for girls! Think of this way, is there a whole of difference between you son rocking his baby doll and your husband rocking your baby?
We read stories about being a big brother. There are tons out there. This link has a thorough list (scroll down for it) with books for all different ages
I brought him to my prenatal appointments. He loved “helping” my midwife use the doppler to find the heartbeat.
I let him choose a gift for the baby—I let him choose anything from the baby section that he wanted. Even though he chose a toy more appropriate for an older baby, but he was very excited about it all which in turn helped him be excited for the baby’s arrival. Baby also had a gift for him.
I took him on a tour of the hospital. This way he knew where I’d go when it was time for the baby to be born and he knew a little of what to expect when he came to visit. Many hospitals also offer big sibling classes; this is something well worth looking into.
I pointed out other babies, especially the crying ones. I wanted him to know that babies cry and it isn’t always fun. I wanted him to know how little babies were, how they needed to be held, and couldn’t do anything for themselves.
Do you have a child who is a different age? This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics has ideas for preparing children of other ages as well.