One of the things that has been fun with my third, fourth and fifth pregnancies is seeing how excited the girls are about the baby. Here are my tips for telling older siblings about a new baby (based on our experience!).
We’ve never experienced sibling jealousy or negativity around a new baby’s arrival. The girls have always been excited about having a new baby in the family. In fact, when we were expecting Joey (our fifth), the girls’ joy actually helped me deal with my emotions around his unplanned arrival.
1. Don’t tell your children before you are ready to tell your family and friends.
When I was about one month pregnant, my husband told the girls, “There’s a baby in Mommy’s tummy.” I looked at him in surprise, because we’d agreed that we’d wait a few months before telling our family and friends.
I didn’t think the girls would be able to keep the secret, but surprisingly, we only talked about it at home. Until my aunt visited—and then Sunshine told her twice that “there’s a baby in Mommy’s tummy!” It ended up being a very cute way to share the news with my aunt. My advice would still be to tell your children before telling others, but don’t expect them to keep the secret for very long.
2. Look at baby pictures together.
Earlier this week, when the girls were talking about the baby, I pulled out their baby photo albums. We looked at the pictures of them as tiny babies (unfortunately, there aren’t any pictures of me super pregnant), including the pictures of Sunshine holding Lily when she was born.
The girls loved seeing themselves as babies, along with the pictures of various family members who had come to visit after they were born. You can also find various books at your library or bookstore about new babies coming (I’ve seen new baby books in the Berenstain Bears and Little Critter series).
3. When are children old enough to understand a baby is coming?
Something coming in the future is a tough concept for toddlers to grasp (even explaining to my girls that something is going to happen next weekend leaves them a bit confused).
When I was expecting Lily, we tried many times to explain to Sunshine that there was a baby coming. Sunshine was two years and three months when Lily was born, and she didn’t really seem to understand the baby’s arrival until the baby arrived (and then she was quite excited).
Lily is now a bit older than Sunshine was then, and seems better able to grasp the idea of a baby in my tummy. Either that or she’s simply picking up on Sunshine’s excitement! Sunshine is four and has seen other pregnant women, so she’s been quite excited about the baby.
4. Talk about the baby.
We’ve talked about the baby lots in our family, even before we spread the news. We talked about having to get a new vehicle because of the new baby and asked the girls for name suggestions for the baby (Sunshine thinks we should name the baby Mike the Knight or Dora). Lily says she’s going to share her Pooh Bear blanket with the baby and Sunshine often wants to kiss the baby. Sunshine also asks questions about how the baby is going to get out of my tummy and how the baby eats while in my tummy. They’ve even suggested things we can get for the baby when we’ve been out shopping.
5. Give the older siblings a gift to celebrate baby’s arrival.
At Lily’s baptism, one of my friends brought a present for Sunshine so that she wouldn’t feel left out by all of the presents that Lily was getting. That stuffed lamb became Sunshine’s favourite toy. For my third pregnancy, I bought Sunshine and Lily new shirts to help share the news about the baby. They were super excited about their sparkly T-shirts—and about telling everyone that they were going to be big sisters.
How did you prepare your older children for a new baby’s arrival?