Are you currently pregnant and running after a toddler or preschooler? You are probably not showing yet, but starting to think about when and how to tell him he will be a big brother to a new baby! Read our tips below to help ease the transition.
When to Announce a New Baby to a Sibling
You don’t want to tell your young child that you’re pregnant before you are even showing. The concept of a baby in your belly is abstract enough as it is. If you then add in the length of time it takes for the new baby to arrive, that makes it even more complex for a young child to comprehend. Keep this in mind when announcing to friends and family and tell them your first-born does not know yet.
Announce your pregnancy to your child based on their age and comprehension level. For young toddlers wait until you have about 3 months left. Your belly is clearly showing at this point. For 3 year olds you can tell them in your second trimester when you begin showing your cute baby bump. For any age, try to give them a benchmark they may understand, such as baby will be here a bit before Santa comes on Christmas or baby won’t be here until the snow starts to melt and we see flowers popping up. If your child asks more about when, show him a calendar. As you flip through say things like, after your birthday and after Halloween.
How to Tell a Big Brother or Sister
The best way to tell a young child is with a book. Children can relate to the character in the book and understand more about what is going to happen. This is called bibliotherapy, using a book to offer support and guidance. First, read the book and then at the end point to your belly and talk about how a baby is growing in there. You can have ultrasound pictures out to show your child as well. Be sure to have one that shows the whole body so it’s easier to see the outline of a baby. You can also talk about how the new baby can hear us and ask if the sibling wants to sing a favorite song or read a favorite book together. This can be his first big brother or sister duty!
Great new baby books to read are:
- I Am a Big Brother, by Caroline Jayne Church
- Big Brother Daniel, by Angela C. Santomero
- God Gave Us Two, by Lisa Tawn Bergren
- Arthur and the Baby, by Marc Brown
- Good Night New Baby, by Adam Gamble
Continue to Prepare a Sibling for a New Baby
Welcoming a new baby is a big transition, especially for a young child who is used to being the center of your universe. Be sure to continue to talk about it and how the big brother or sister can be a helper when the baby comes home. If you don’t already have one, purchase a baby doll, bottle, and few other pretend play items. Boys can have a baby doll too; they even make anatomically correct dolls! If you’re playing in the pretend kitchen you can pretend to warm up a bottle or prepare pureed baby food. You can incorporate baby into play and real-life actions many different ways to show how the big brother or sister can be a part of the experience. Ask if your child wants to push baby in the swing or wants to change their diaper after they themselves get a clean bum. Before nap time, perhaps your child will want to put their baby doll to bed in the nursery. Always point with pride out how helpful they are!
Today is the Day!
The day has finally come and you are off to the hospital. Who is staying with your first-born child? Be sure to talk about this ahead of time when reading through books as well, “Grandma and Grandpa are going to come for a few days to play when dad and I go to the doctor’s.” You could have a small gift prepared that is from the new baby to give their big sibling! This will be sure to light up your first-born’s face. It also gives them a new toy to play with when you are settling in on your first day home. Another option is a trophy or sticker saying, “Best Big Brother Award!”
The transition will be unique for every child and it will take time for them to get used to the infant taking some attention away from them. When visitors come over and want to hold your newborn, use that time to snuggle up your first-born. If you are looking for some additional support juggling multiple children, Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny offers daytime postpartum services as well as overnight newborn care. Reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About The Author
Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.