How & When to Tell Kids You're Pregnant
Announcing your pregnancy is exciting, but what's the best way to tell your child that you're expecting? Here are tips to help you time your announcement for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-agers.
Congratulations, you're expecting another child! You're probably anxious to share your joy with family members and friends, but what about your child? When and how should you tell your kids that you're pregnant?
While every family and child is different, in general, breaking the pregnancy news to 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 months to tell your child you're having a baby. Be sure to advise family members to keep the news quiet until you're ready to share it with your child. The last thing you want is for him to hear it from someone other than you. You want to be the one that says "Mom's having a baby!"
How to Tell Your Toddler or Preschooler You're Pregnant
Your young child has a limited capacity for understanding time. Just think about how hard it is for him 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. One exception to this advice would be if you have a hefty dose of morning sickness, in which case you might want to tell her sooner so she doesn't think something's wrong. "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."
When you do tell your child about your pregnancy, use simple terms that he 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 he has questions.
Not only is time an abstract concept, but the idea of a baby growing inside you is hard to comprehend too. 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. Let her shop for clothing, diapers, and other baby essentials with you. Read picture books about pregnancy and babies. Spend time with babies so your child understands what to expect and is prepared to become a sibling.
How to Tell Older Children You're Pregnant
Older children can understand abstract concepts more readily, although nine months is still a long time. Think about your child's temperament and how he might respond to the pregnancy news. Some children are instantly thrilled at the idea of having a younger sibling; others need time to warm to the idea.
Your older child can understand more about pregnancy, but don't inundate her with details. Offer some general information and look to her cues when offering more detailed facts. Mark the expected date on a calendar she can see, and offer some landmarks for when the baby will arrive, e.g., "Our baby will be born right before Halloween, sometime around October 21, but we're not sure of the exact day."
Let your child come to an ultrasound or doctor's appointment and look for other ways to involve him. Perhaps your child can help paint the nursery or pick out bedding. Talk about what to expect during the first few months to help your child prepare for the change, e.g., "Babies need a lot of care. The first few months will be fun, but they'll probably be busy too. Things will calm down as the baby gets older."
Welcoming a second (or third, or fourth) child into your family is a sweet experience, but it's also a time of change. Allow yourself time to emotionally prepare for the baby first so you're fully available to support your child once you share the news.
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