Another little one is on the way and it’s time to share the news! You might be thrilled to finally tell them or feel a bit apprehensive about how they’ll take the news. Either way, here’s how to tell your child you’re having another baby and help set them up for a smooth transition.
1. Plan the timing
You might feel eager to tell your little one about their little sibling, but as with any complicated conversation, be sure the timing is right. You probably want them to hear the news from you (not a relative or friend you’ve already told). But you also don’t want them to spill the beans to others before you’re ready. Many parents choose to tell their kids near the end of the first trimester but ultimately, pick the timing that’s right for you and your family.
2. Use simple, clear language
Children understand new concepts best when we use concrete language. You might tell your child that there’s a baby growing in your belly or that the baby will be small and need lots of help when they’re born.
3. Highlight the positives
How you talk about the new baby impacts how your child views the change. You might say something such as, “When the baby is older, you’ll have someone to play cars with.” Or “The baby is going to love watching you dance and sing.” Showing your excitement rubs off on your little one and can help them feel excited too.
4. Incorporate books
Storybooks about big siblings can help a child understand what it’s like to have a younger sibling. By reading these stories with them in the coming months, your child will be more comfortable with the change and ready to help. They’ll learn about what it’s like to have a baby in the house, how the older sibling can help, and what parents do to take care of a baby.
5. Give them a role
Include your child in preparing your house or family for the new baby. Maybe they can help you decorate the nursery, brainstorm baby names, or pick out clothes. Explain that once the baby arrives, they can help feed the baby a bottle, read to them, or grab a diaper for mom. When kids feel important and valued, they’re better able to cope with adding a sibling to the mix.
6. Help them navigate their feelings
Your child might feel surprised, anxious, jealous, excited, or curious about their new sibling. They also might not show much of a reaction at all. No matter what they’re feeling, empathize with them and embrace their emotions. You might say, “It’s OK to feel a little unsure about a baby joining our family. This is a new experience for all of us.”
Once you’ve empathized with them, you can reassure them. “We will still have our special time when the baby sleeps. And when I’m feeding the baby, you can sit next to me and I’ll read you stories.”
When kids feel like they can express and share their emotions, they’re better able to cope with change. And they’re more likely to lean on you for support.
7. Explain what comes next
Help your child feel prepared and in the know about what’s to come. Tell them what to expect, such as what room the baby will sleep in or what season they’ll arrive in. You can also share what will stay the same: your kid will keep the same room and dad will still take them to school every morning.
8. Tell them baby stories
To help your child understand and embrace the upcoming baby, share stories about when they or you were a baby.
Kids love hearing stories about themselves and their parents. You might explain where your child was born, any stories about their birth, or fun moments of them as a baby. This can help elicit a positive connection to the new baby and the exciting adventures ahead.
- Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. The Whole-Brain Child. Random House, Inc. 2011. Print.
- Darienne Hosley Stewart. “When and how to tell your child you’re pregnant.” BabyCenter. https://www.babycenter.com/family/siblings/when-and-how-to-tell-your-child-youre-pregnant_3636425.
- Dawn Yanek. “How to tell your kid you’re pregnant: An age-by-age guide.” Today’s Parent. St. Joseph’s Communications. July 27, 2020. https://www.todaysparent.com/pregnancy/being-pregnant/how-to-tell-your-kid-youre-pregnant-an-age-by-age-guide/.