Brave New Motherhood
How to Prepare Your Older Child
for a New Sibling

How to tell your child you're pregnant

Preparing toddler for a new baby

Adding another baby brings many changes to your household, especially for your firstborn. This time around, preparations for a new member of the family go beyond stockpiling diapers and wipes to include the meaningful task of facilitating a smooth transition for your whole family as your young child becomes a big sister or brother.

As a parent, there are many things you can do to prepare your older child for their new role in your growing family.

telling older child you're pregnant

Telling Your Child You’re Pregnant

Depending on your child’s age, you can expect different reactions to the news. A baby or toddler may understand little about the changes in your family, while a school-aged child may have a more varied, complex reaction. 

Children should be given as much time as possible to adjust to the idea of a new baby. Early on, they may wonder why you seem sick or why their grown-ups are talking about rearranging the furniture. The sooner you can include your child, the longer they have to process and prepare for their new role as a big sibling. 

How you tell your child about their new sibling will depend on their developmental age and personal temperament. Share the news in a positive, age-appropriate way that invites your child to be curious and excited about the changes in your family dynamic.

Since babies and toddlers may not understand, a visual approach to announcing your pregnancy can be helpful. Showing sonograms, reading children's books on baby development, and describing how your baby is growing in age-appropriate language can help. Explaining to your child how their life will change with this exciting addition will allow them to begin to absorb the news.

School-aged children may have a more complex reaction to the baby announcement. When telling your school-aged child about the changing family dynamic, it’s crucial to answer their questions in an understanding and patient manner. 

Letting your child know how the baby will affect their life can help them feel more at ease with the changes that come with welcoming a new sibling. Also, letting your child tell people the news may help them get excited about the new baby — and they'll feel like such a big kid!

If you’d like additional tips on how to tell your child, reach out to your child’s teacher or pediatrician for more insights. Check out websites like the Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics for some helpful resources.

telling your child that you're having another baby

Preparing Your Child During Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is challenging for parents and children in different ways. You may be feeling more tired, busy, stressed, or ill, and your child may not fully grasp why you need some extra downtime. Some of these changes, even before the baby arrives, can cause children to exhibit challenging behaviors, like tantrums, sleep disruptions, or toilet-training regressions. 

To help your child better understand what’s happening and what’s to come, it's a good idea to

  • Schedule extra quality time for your child with each parent before your due date. 

  • Kindly but candidly set expectations for your child. Babies are challenging, and your child should know that they can’t take care of themselves; they cry, they don’t sleep at night, they touch their big sibling’s toys. The new baby will require a lot of your attention, but the added responsibilities won’t change how much you love your older child. 

  • Show your child their baby pictures. Predict what the new baby will look like. Pull out baby photographs of you and your partner to compare.

  • Discuss and plan the sorts of activities and responsibilities your child can help with when your baby is born. Emphasize your child’s role as a big sibling and invite them to share ideas about ways to be a good big brother or sister.

  • Paint a clear picture for your child by sharing relevant memories of what life was like when they came home from the hospital or what your family’s schedule looked like in the first few weeks and months of their life.

  • Involve your child in some preparations, such as nursery furniture selection, baby name ideas, and clothing purchases. Maybe even help your older child select a small gift for the baby. Make it feel like an important, special time, an opportunity to help their baby brother or sister have a warm welcome into this world.

expanding your family

Your Family (Plus One)

A new family member means one more person to love, hug, and spend time with, but it also means another person to share Mom with. When they learn of a new baby, older siblings will experience various emotions, from joy and excitement to apprehension and jealousy. 

No matter your child’s reaction, it’s essential they feel included and valued in the coming months before you bring your baby home. Patiently and gently preparing older children for the arrival of a new baby lays a strong foundation for healthy sibling relationships.

Overall, the adjustment should focus on love and understanding. Children adjust at their own pace, and they should know that you’re all in this together as a family — and that will never change.