Exciting news! You're expecting another baby. Early on, you may not be ready to tell friends and family but should you tell your older child? Sure you should! You are a family and this is an important development. But be ready for questions, because most "older-siblings-to-be" are full of them. Here is a sample conversation between my 3 year old and me when I was expecting his brother:
3 year old (eyeing me with skepticism): "Where will the baby come out?"
Me: " The baby comes out of the vagina. It is an opening that babies squeeze out of."
3 year old ( clearly needing more explanation): "Where is the 'gina?"
Me: "The vagina is between the mommy's legs, near her bottom".
3 year old (not ready to end conversation): "Can you tell me about vaginas?"
Me: "What do you want to know?" ( 3 year old drops topic for a minute, walks off muttering to himself, then reemerges with more questions.)
3 year old: "Where is my vagina?"
Me: "You don't have a vagina, because you are a boy. Only girls have vaginas. Boys have penises."
3 Year Old: "Can you tell me about penises?"
You get the picture! And it only got worse as the pregnancy progressed. Many questions. And with good reason, inquiring minds want to know! If your older child is one of those inquiring minds ( or even he isn't), here are some tips for including him in your pregnancy.
1. Depending on your child's age, you might start by talking about siblings. If you have a sibling, you could tell your child about how wonderful it is. "Aunt Jan and I are sisters. I love having a sister. She has always been my favorite person to talk to. Your sister is growing in my tummy (uterus, whatever you have decided on) right now!"
2. Give enough information and be prepared to answer your child's questions. "Mommy and daddy are having a new baby! The baby will be a brother or a sister. Let's look at the calendar so that you can see when the baby will be born. There are some really fun ways to keep track of the days until the baby is born. There are lots different apps and email services you can get to track the baby's development as the weeks pass. This can be shared with siblings, especially if there are pictures. I have also seen people use a paper chain where a piece of the chain is removed each day ( this would be fun in the last month).
3. If your child needs more information, find some good books to illustrate and explain pregnancy. We included some of our favorites at the end of this article. Remember to answer questions honestly, but without any alarming or confusing information. Only you know what your child will respond and react to - so use your best instincts.
4. Start a relationship between your older child and unborn baby by allowing the older child to "read" or sing to the baby in your tummy. It is also fun to give your child a disposable camera and have him make a "welcome book" to show the baby including your house and his favorite things.
5. Include your older child in baby preparation such as decorating the nursery, buying diapers, or picking out clothes. Remember that, as a member of your family, your child may want to be involved. Ask him how he would like to help you prepare for his sibling and give him some options.
Including your older child in your pregnancy can be awesome. It is a wonderful way to create a sibling bond, even before the baby is born (which may help when your older child is in the throes of the "new baby blues").
Let Them Fly!0