So it’s time to welcome baby #2 (or 3? 4!?). Congratulations! Understanding when and how to share the news that you are expecting with your older child or children is a conversation that isn’t given enough time and space.
This first section will share more about how to share the news with your older child, and how to prep for the new baby in a way that will limit anxiety and prepare for a smooth transition. Section 2 will dive into how to actually welcome that new baby home after birth, and what the first days and weeks may look like.
We at Poppylist are all parents of multiples- so we’ve been there, and we get it! Here are some tips and tricks we’ve found helpful during this time.
Navigating the “Mommy’s pregnant” conversation can feel like a high-stakes game, but don't worry—we're here to help you hit the sweet spot. While you may want to break the news as soon as you find out, the best time to tell your older kiddo is when you're visibly showing but not too far along in your pregnancy (generally somewhere in the mid 2nd trimester).
It really does depend on the age, and the age gap of the two children. Since toddlers don't have the sense of time as we do as adults, revealing the news too early can increase anxiety, as “a few months” sounds pretty arbitrary to someone who can’t tell time.
Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of sharing the exciting news!
Before you chat with your child, plan out what you'll say. This can make a big difference. Keep it simple and factual. Use real body part names and avoid assuming your child will be excited. Being a big brother or a big sister is exciting, but it is important for them to arrive at this on their own. The best thing you can do is to let your child feel his/her own emotions without pressure to take on yours.
Here's a script to get you started:
"We have something to share! Mommy has a baby growing in her uterus. Soon, it will be time for the baby to come out."
Wait and see what questions your child has. Answer in a factual, neutral tone, and be prepared for a wide range of emotions. They may have questions about babies, what it means to be an older sibling, how their routine may change, or other questions about newborns.
Let your child feel and express their emotions without judgment. Acknowledge fears and worries, and be there to answer questions. Remind them that even as an older sibling, you will always be their parent.
Depending on how old your older child or older children are, you can provide more details or keep things vague. For younger kids, stick to the basics, but if you're talking to an older child, feel free to dive deeper into the process of what to expect.
Remember to follow their lead and answer their questions as honestly and age-appropriately as possible. A range of emotions during this conversation and beyond, is perfectly normal.
It can feel tricky for a toddler/preschooler to really understand what’s going on. Toddlers are extremely literal and after all, you have a human growing inside you. It is a little bit hard to grasp. As much as possible, allow them to be involved. Let them feel/kiss your belly.
Show them pictures of newborns, what they looked like as a newborn, show them pictures of an umbilical cord and explain what to expect (it can be pretty surprising!). You can show them your ultrasound pictures to make it feel more real.
You can even talk about when you were pregnant with them and show them photos. As much as possible, take this kind of abstract concept and make it feel real for your older child. The important thing is to really spend time with your child and take time to listen.
While all families have different traditions and cultures around preparing for a new baby, consider involving your child in the preparation. This can help them feel more connected and excited about the new arrival.
Let them help with setting up the nursery and picking out baby items. According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, involving older siblings in the preparation for a new baby can promote positive sibling relationships.
Just be careful not to "take" items from your older child for the new baby—doing so can trigger feelings of jealousy and resentment.
For example, most newborns don't need a crib in their first few weeks or even few months so consider not moving the crib (which can feel like a special item for your older child) into the baby's room before the baby is born.
Also, if possible, avoid any big transitions during this time (like potty training, getting rid of a pacifier, switching schools). As much as you can, try to keep to one big transition at a time.
Help your child understand that you'll be away for a short time when the new baby sibling is born. Reassure them that they'll be taken care of by someone who loves them, and make a plan together for what they'll do while you're gone.
This can help ease anxiety and make the transition smoother for everyone involved.
While many parents use hand me downs, or items from their first child for their second baby, it also can be time for a little bit of a re-do. We know that sometimes, you want to change up what you use, or how you approach building a nursery or your home for a second baby. Think about what went well with your first, and what you may want to do differently.
Because Poppylist’s mantra is “less is more”, it is perfect for a second, more minimalist baby registry. Think about the items you already have, and get a sense of what is missing. Visit our product catalog for recommendations from other parents about what you may need to add.
"What to Expect When Mommy's Having a Baby"- an excellent book to help your toddler understand pregnancy and get ready for their new sibling.
Remember, every child is different, and their reactions may vary.
Stay patient, supportive, and loving as they process the news and adjust to the idea of becoming a big sibling. Congratulations! This is an exciting time!