Oh Emily, we love these ideas and this valued wisdom! Thanks for sharing here!
Agreed, Melissa, Emily’s direction seemed to work well for our family as well. During our transition, we tried to reserve the baby’s naps for 1:1 time (as much as possible) with our daughter, and a friend of mine swore by a small, semantic tip that might help: refer to the baby as “your sister” rather than “the baby,” or “the new baby” or “our baby.” It’s a small shift in ownership and did seem to keep any simmering attention rivalry at bay!
We’ve also found empathizing with our daughter was helpful. Like, “It will be so nice when this baby can actually DO things with you! It’s so hard to wait to play with him!” Sometimes, we’d encourage her to draw a picture of all the things she’ll want to teach him someday, or all the rules he’ll need to know, or which toys she’ll want to share and which ones she won’t. ;) It seemed to tide her over until they could actually interact on some sort of sibling level.
We also encouraged her to use as many senses other than touch (which wasn’t always so gentle!). We asked her to use her voice to connect with him. We’d explain that even though babies don’t move around a lot, their ears and brains are always paying attention! We’d ask her which songs she wanted to sing to him, or which rhymes he should learn. (To this day, she’s the only one who can get him to stop crying in his car seat when she sings “Something Just Like This!”)
Or, she’d use her nose by sniffing him and saying, “He needs a new diaper!” Or her eyes by saying, “He looks hungry!” Whether or not it was true, she felt like she was helping in a real, tangible way. :)