You just found out you are pregnant, and the first thing that pops into your mind is, “How will I tell my children about this new addition?” You are certainly not the first or the last one that will struggle with how your child will receive this news.
While it may be exciting for your child now, it may be one of the tougher things that he or she will have to deal with and may mark the beginnings of sibling rivalry. For some, this may begin soon after the arrival of the second baby. Some children become aggressive and others withdraw into a shell during this time. So it becomes especially important how and when you deliver this news along with supporting your older children along the way.
First of all, it is important that your child hear about your pregnancy from you and not from someone else. No matter how old your child is, this piece of information should be introduced by you and can be a great opportunity to talk about where babies come from even if you are using the most simplistic explanation. You may choose to tell your child during the first trimester before others begin to exclaim about your changing figure.
If your older child is sleeping between you and dad as in the case of many Indian families, it becomes important to address the sleeping situation well before your due date arrives. This is important so that your older child does not feel displaced by the baby. So if you have plans to move your child to a different room, begin right away. If your older child must begin preschool, then ensure that it does not coincide with the arrival of the new baby. You certainly do not want your older child to associate being thrust in the care of someone else with his new sibling’s arrival.
Get your older child involved by taking her to prenatal visits with your doctor. It may help your child feel involved in the pregnancy itself. Looking at pictures of your older child as a baby with him will also get him used to the idea that the new baby will not be his instant playmate. It is important that your child knows what to expect when your baby first arrives; that the baby will not able to do too much beyond eating and sleeping for the first month or so.
Visit the library and ask the librarian for suggestions of children’s books that deal specifically with introducing your older child to the idea of a new baby. These realistic stories will help your child see the new arrival more as an addition to your loving family than as a rival for his parents’ attention. In fact, give your child every opportunity to ask questions about any concerns she may have, allowing her to vent her feelings about your changing family.
At this time, it is especially important to assure her that she can never be replaced and that the new baby is going to love her and look up to her more than anyone else. Assigning a protector kind of role to your older child is much better received than telling her that she is going to have someone to play with.
Finally, let your child participate in any preparations you are making towards readying the house for your new baby. Give her the choice of making decisions such as where she would like the crib to be placed along with where she would like the baby’s clothes and diapers to be stored, just make sure that you give her options that are acceptable to you. Soon your older child will come around to accepting the arrival of your new baby and will even look forward to it with eagerness.