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Not Another Stork Story: Telling Your Kids You're Expecting

Katlyn Joy |12, December 2012


Adding to your family again? Sometimes it can be hard to know the right moment and method to share your happy news with your children. If you tell them too soon, they will likely drive you crazy, with questions not too different than those on a long road trip. Instead of "Are we there yet?", it will be "Is it time yet?"

If you wait too long, you may be robbed of the chance to be the bearer of good news as your bulging shape already alerted others who will let the cat out of the bag. This can also make your child a bit hesitant to trust if a stranger is the one to blurt out the news.

So when is the right time and what is the best way to share about your pregnancy with your children?

The Perils of Telling Too Soon

If you opt to tell children early in your pregnancy, before the end of the first trimester, there is an approximately 20 percent chance you will have to share the harsh news of what it means to have a miscarriage. To avoid that conversation, many experts advise that you wait until you've reached the twelve week mark. Afraid of someone else slipping up and revealing your secret? Then keep the news to yourself until the second trimester.

If you tell a young toddler, they will be expecting a new baby by week's end. Young children just cannot internalize what months or even weeks means. They think it's imminent once they've been told. If your little bomper doesn't notice your baby bump or the new activity or the arrival of new baby items, then it's probably too soon for that child.

A good time for toddlers under three would be in the last few weeks. You can prepare them for babies though a bit sooner, by letting your friends with babies stop by for visits and teaching your little one the do's and don'ts for interacting with babies.

The Dangers of Waiting Too Long

However, if you wait too long to tell the world is likely to blow your family secret. This won't be the end of the world, but if you wanted to share the news, maybe capture a video of the big reaction, you will miss out if you wait too long and Cousin Eddy opens his big mouth to ask the kids, "Hey, are you excited about having a new sister?"

Another downside is not allowing older kids the time to adjust to the idea. Older kids will have their own concerns and possibly fears about a new sibling. Where will the baby sleep? Will he take all my toys? Will you love her more?

If you take a bit more time you can give your child a chance to work through emotions as well as get a chance to get really ready and enjoy the anticipation of your growing brood.
You can help your children feel an important part of the family in preparing a space for the new baby, helping you get the nursery ready or going through lists of baby names. If a child feels a part of the process, he is less likely to feel alienated by the new child.

Ways to Help your Child Prepare

For littlest ones:

- Read picture books about new babies together with your child. Let your child ask questions.

- Get your child a baby doll to practice being big brother or sister with. Make sure the baby can be changed, given a bottle and rocked to sleep,

- Let your child experience the fun, and less than fun of babies such as smiles and giggles, stinkiness and spit up. Let your child see that new babies don't do too much so they won't expect the new baby to ride trikes with him next week.

For older ones:

- Enroll them in a big sibling class at your hospital if available. These classes, often held for an hour or two, will cover baby care such as how to hold a baby, give a bottle and change a diaper. Often participants get a certificate to show off their accomplishment and readiness for new baby.

- Let your children visit the doctor with you, especially to hear the sounds of baby's heartbeat or perhaps to a sonogram to see baby moving within your tummy.

- Give your children assignments to help prepare for baby. Maybe your son can help you fold new baby clothes and put them away. Or perhaps your daughter can help you sort out baby toys from big kid toys while you explain how babies can easily choke so we keep toys that are small or have small pieces away from them.

Whatever you do, try to capture your child's reaction and preparations for baby and keep them as part of the memory book for baby. You could even create a family scrapbook together to help get ready for baby's arrival. The book will become a family keepsake and a special holder of memories for years to come.

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Guest Jun 5, 2014 06:50:31 AM ET

Babies don't ever go in "tummies".

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