How & When to Tell Children You're Expecting

Announcing a pregnancy is exciting news, but what's the best way to tell a child you're expecting another? Here are eight tips to help you plan your announcement for soon-to-be-siblings

Learning that you're expecting another child will (hopefully) be great news for you, your wider family members and friends but what about your child? Youtube is littered with home videos documenting terrible reactions of toddlers (and even older children), when they learn they're about to get a sibling. So when and how should you tell your little one that they're going to get a new brother or sister?

While every family and child is different, in general, breaking the pregnancy news to young children too early can increase their anxiety and make the nine month wait seem interminable. It's often best to wait a few weeks or even months to tell your child you're having a baby. But if you tell other family members earlier be sure to advise them to keep the news quiet until you're ready to share it with your child. The last thing you want is for them to hear it from someone other than you. You want to be the one that says "Mummy's having a baby!"

How to Explain to Your Toddler You're Pregnant

Understanding Time: Your young child has a limited capacity for understanding time. Just think about how hard it is for them to wait five minutes for dinner. Nine months seems like an eternity! It's usually best to wait until your second trimester to let your little one in on your big news. Exactly when in the second trimester will depend on your child.

Morning Sickness: One key exception to this may be if you have a hefty dose of morning sickness, in which case you might want to tell them sooner so they don't start worrying and thinking something's wrong.

Explaining Tiredness: You may also need to explain to your child why you are feeling tired so they don't worry about your health. "I'm so happy that I'm going to have a baby. Growing a baby is hard work, though, and sometimes I feel tired. I'll feel better soon."

Using Simple Words: When you do tell your child about your pregnancy, use simple terms that they can understand. Talking with your child about pregnancy can be difficult so try to avoid confusion by using correct terminology, e.g., "The baby is growing in my uterus, which is a part of my body." Just give your child the basic facts and offer more information if they have questions.

Hard Concept to Get: Not only is time an abstract concept for little ones, but the idea of a baby growing inside you is also hard to comprehend. Your growing belly provides a good visual; let your child feel the baby kicking and look at ultrasound pictures to make the baby seem more real.

Inclusive Activities: Involve them in shopping for clothing, nappies, and other baby essentials to make them feel part of the process and hopefully become excited themselves.

Books: Read picture books about pregnancy and babies. Books like There's a House Inside my Mummy are useful to help explain the process and what's going on inside you.

Familiarity: If you have the opportunity, try to spend some time with other babies so your child understands what to expect, sees babies cry and can learn from others what being a sibling entails so they can get prepared.

And Finally... Welcoming a second (or third, or fourth) child is always going to bring a time of change in any family. Allow yourself time to emotionally prepare for the baby first, so you're fully available to support your child once you share the news.

Bright Horizons Content Team