Taking the step to expand your family is a daunting one. It is a big decision for you and your partner to make, especially if you have a child already. And then another huge question is – how do you tell your once only child?
If you are currently expecting or planning your second child then keep reading for the secret to announcing your pregnancy to your only child.
HOW TO BREAK THE NEWS TO YOUR ONLY CHILD
First of all, it is probably a good idea to wait until you are ready to announce it to the rest of the world! Toddlers and children are generally terrible secret keepers.
Weeks before you actually tell your child you are pregnant it is a great idea to start laying groundwork. This can be as simple as reading books that are about siblings and babies, or visiting friends who have new babies.
When telling your child, make sure you pick a time when they are relaxed and not struggling with any other stressful changes, such as toilet training, moving from a cot to bed, unwell or starting school. Find a calm period of time (yes, I know that can be hard with an active toddler!) where you and your child are able to sit and discuss the pregnancy and they can ask questions.
Keep your language simple and positive when talking about your pregnancy and soon to be newborn. For example, “mommy has a baby growing in her belly.”
Children can have an abstract idea of time, so when you do break the exciting news pair your due date with a recognizable milestone such as the end of summer, Easter or Christmas.
HOW WILL YOUR ONLY CHILD REACT?
If we only had a crystal ball to answer this one! It is the source of anxiety and worry in many parents.
How your firstborn reacts to your pregnancy will largely depend on their age and how much they understand. The older they are the more likely it is they will have the maturity and knowledge to grasp what your pregnancy means. If you are breaking the news to a young toddler, they may not be able to understand. However, there are many things you can say and do to prepare them for the arrival of a sibling.
Don’t make assumptions about how your child will react. For example, supposing they will struggle as they are so used to being an only child. It is important to keep in mind that your childs’ reactions will be mixed. To help them through you need to provide them with love, support, and understanding and answer the never-ending questions!
If you need the crib or room your older child is currently sleeping in try not to make a transition to bed or other room to close to your due date. This can create resentment and anger towards the new baby.
Some children can become anxious by the changes in mum, such as morning sickness, fatigue and her growing belly which make it hard to sit on her lap. Be sure to reassure your child and provide them the love and support they will need to adjust to these changes in their life.
INVOLVING YOUR ONLY CHILD.
Creating opportunities for your child to be involved is a great way to foster excitement and responsibility in them. They are more likely to be accepting of a sibling if they can help and do not feel excluded.
You can involve your child by having them help pick out names, setting up the nursery and talking to them about what they can teach the baby when he finally arrives.
If you have the opportunity to introduce your child to a baby, such as a family member or a friends’ baby, then you should do so. It can help to familiarize them with babies. If no newborn babies are available to visit, then you can use a doll or teddy to make believe. Children learn through play, so this is a safe way to teach your child about handling and interacting with a newborn before the real deal comes along.
ADVICE FOR EXPECTING PARENTS.
• Use books to explain that a new baby is coming and what it means to be an older sibling
• Talk about what sort of baby they were, using photos and videos.
• Explain how they can help mom and dad when the new baby arrives (bringing fresh nappies, singing and reading to baby, bathing baby, helping with bottles). Of course this is all age dependent.
• Have practice runs for when baby comes, such as having sleepovers at grandparents house.
• Buy them a doll or teddy bear they can practice holding, rocking and wrapping.
The Secret to Announcing Your Pregnancy to Your Only Child
Expecting a second baby? How to introduce your only child to your newborn baby
Books for the soon-to-be Sibling- A Review of the Best and Worst Sibling Prep Books
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