When should we tell our sensitive toddler that we’re having another baby?

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photo by Kara Peterson Photography We’re pregnant! Again! My breasts are swollen, I’m hungry, experiencing some lovely nausea, and I keep crying at commercials. Pretty much like I remember it. After peeing on a stick, we conceded that we now have a theoretical baby incubating currently in my midsection. We’ve been trying for a few months, so for a nice change, it’s expected. My husband and I already have a wonderful, rambunctious, handful of a three-and-a-half-year-old son, who in the last year has expressed an extreme desire for a sibling. I have never seen a kid love babies so much. All kids, any age, he adores them all. So since I never wanted to raise an only child, it was easy to start trying for spawn number two.

I can’t remember how many months my son creeped me out telling me I had a seed planted in my tummy, each time I had to wonder if he knew something I didn’t. However, this month (I am now five weeks along) it became official. Our son will be a big brother next spring!

What I want to know is when everyone told their preceding children about the upcoming ones? My reason for wanting to tell him is that he is a sensitive and astute child — he has to know something is going on. We’re acting differently, life is already changing drastically. — Rebecca

Comments on When should we tell our sensitive toddler that we’re having another baby?

  1. I had a sensitive toddler while pregnant with my second, too. Early in the pregnancy, we focused a lot on how a baby was growing inside me. We left out all the “this is what its like to have a new baby” stuff for a while, because that is a long time for a sensitive kid like ours to build up excitement and anxiety over a big change. So while we let him know that I was pregnant and that my body was going through something right away in the pregnancy, it was about two months before the sibling came when we finally started going over baby-brother-is-coming stuff.

    One thing to consider is that people will probably start asking him all sorts of “Are you excited to be a brother!?” questions right away, so having a way that you’ll steer those conversations is helpful, too.

  2. while we still only have one I am the oldest of 4 children and I remember my parents approaching it a couple of different ways. The one that was the easiest was when changes become obvious (mom got sick alot) they sat the current children down and told them that they would be getting a new sibling! then mom told us the due date and we kind of counted down, similar to the first commenter we didnt start a whole lot of new baby prep until closer to the due date.

  3. Our daughter was two-and-a-half when we found out I was expecting her brother. We told her a baby was on the way after my twelve-week scan, and didn’t necessarily expect her to think too much of it (as it was she did like to talk about it) and took her along to the twenty week scan to see for herself. She enthusiatically informed anyone who’d listen after that ‘We did go to the hospital to see the baby in mummy’s tummy’.

    nd then that there was a baby in her tummy too – a common response from toddlers, I understand. So we talked about the baby in mummy’s tummy, and the baby in Esmé’s tummy (it’s still there, by the way, though her brother is now three months old!).

    The book ‘There’s going to be a baby’ was a great one to read in the run-up and was her bedtime story for most of those months.

    She’s a pretty confident little girl so she took the pregnancy, and indeed has taken having a baby brother, really in her stride.

  4. I sat my daughter down and told her right away. I believe in age appropriate truths, so I told her there was a baby growing in my uterus (she already knew what that was). By the time baby E was born, she had seen births on documentaries and we had been around newborns and had even picked clothes that we were going to save for the baby. When E came into the world O was beyond ready and when we brought her home she couldn’t wait for the baby to come play in their room. Sooner than later helps them get used to the idea!

  5. My friends with children told their older kids that they were going to get a sibling after three months, when the chances of spontanious abortions are much less than earlier in the pregnancy.

    Since I work in kindergarten I have seen many different approaches to “theres a baby in mummy’s tummy” and I think the best one is to have the older kid participate in the pragnancy, like picking out clothes and toys, read pregnancy books for kids etc.

    One thing I have noticed that many parents do, and no not always turn out well, is that they expect the older child to always be as exited as they are. “It’s going to be so much fun to be an older brother!” Then the baby arrives, and it’s…not. From a kid in my class with a newborn sister: “She just screams and poops and will not play at all”.

    As I see it, their interest in the new baby will come and go, and that is ok as well. But be there to answer questions or give them small chores to do to help with the new baby, and they will feel pride to be “the older one”.

    Good luck on your pregnancy!

    • Yeah, agree about waiting until after 3 months or so to tell the toddler, in case of a miscarriage.
      My kids are only 21 months apart, so it wasn’t really an issue until I started showing really big, around 7 months maybe. I never had morning sickness or anything like that, and I didn’t really act any differently than when I wasn’t pregnant, so most of the pregnancy didn’t really change her routine at all. When she started asking questions about my tummy being big, I explained to her that I was gonna have a baby brother for her to play with. That got her really excited, and I’ve really never had any trouble between the two of them. They’re 3.5 and 1.5 now, and totally BFFs, lol.

    • “She just screams and poops and will not play at all”.

      This completely cracked me up.
      I’m at 3 months now, and I’m secretly scared that will be *my* reaction once all is said and done.

      • Well, the benefit of being a grown-up is that you know the “screams and poops and will not play at all” phase only lasts about six months, tops, or even less, depending on what you count as playing.

      • It’s funny…even our pediatrician made a comment about how babies “don’t give anything back” to the parents emotionally or socially until 4-6 months. However, I found that I got so much from Olive from the get-go. I’d always thought that she’d just be this crying, pooping little wormy being for a while, but I feel like she really was a tiny little person, with personality and everything. But yeah–lotsa poop 🙂

  6. I guess it totally depends on how mature your son is. We lived with my step-brother when I got pregnant, and I when I started showing around 4-5 mo, we told my nephew that he was going to have a cousin because a baby was growing in my tummy. While he wanted a cousin, and had been talking about wanting one, he had issues coming to terms with the idea of a real baby growing inside of me.

  7. I told only when I started really showing, because 40 weeks is a long long long long time to a little person. It’s hard to wait, and I think that fear, anticipation, and excitement for that long can actually amp up a sensitive kid (like my daughter). Yes, your little one might notice the changes in your household, or that you’re tired or not feeling well, but I think that you can just be honest that “you’re not feeling well right now” and leave it at that for a bit. I wanted my daughter to know before it became common in conversation, but I feel like that’s not until at least 3 months for most folks. And even though she “knew” when I was about 3 months along, we didn’t really talk about it until I was closer to 30 weeks pregnant. Don’t forget, while that feels like the end to you, that’s still about 2 months of prep time for a toddler.

  8. We have the same situation!
    My son was telling us for months that he was going to have a baby sister, then it seemed to be true one day. I pee’d on a stick while my son waited outside of the bathroom, as usual and then I was so shocked I blurted it right out, he was the first to know, even before Daddy-O.
    He was excited the whole pregnancy, watching videos with me on how the baby grows, and asking me every day the size of fruit/vegetable comparable to the baby’s size, very Cute!

    Good Luck!

  9. I just have to say how much your son sounds like mine! Oh my god, they could be dopplegangers! My husband and I are also trying for our second and my son is doing the same things your guy’s son is. He told my mother in law that I actually was pregnant but that it’s a secret, even!! He is always talking about “his baby” and what it’s going to be for Halloween, what toys it’s going to get for Christmas, what it’s going to eat at it’s birthday party, etc. I just have to laugh at how much our boys seem alike. Maybe it’s the age?

  10. I’d be careful about telling the sprog before you’re 3mos along–not only is 35wks a LONG time for a kid that age, but their grief in the case of a miscarriage is likely to be extreme (from a grownup point of view), and in that unhappy scenario, it’s one more sad thing you don’t need to deal with. But hopefully that won’t materialize, and the baby will!

  11. We told our 3 1/2 year old that I was pregnant shortly after we found out. She has always been very ahead for her age and it just seemed right. She was there the first time we heard his heartbeat, at the ultrasounds and has been to over half of my check ups. I am no 34 weeks and she is SO ready for her little brother to be here. I explained to her about how she was born, via c-section, and now she will say “go cut our baby out momma” When she first got to see him at the ultrasound she was telling everyone she came in contact with “I’m having a baby!”. She has been a big help for the past 7 months, helping me get things ready and helping mommy feel better when I’m not feeling the best. I have loved having my little sidekick with me during this pregnancy. She’s my best friend and my little princess. Who wouldn’t wan’t their best friend along for the ride? 🙂
    Ps-the only part that wasn’t fun was when I was getting sick for the first 4 months or so, she was in the bathroom half the time pretending to puke right with me. I didn’t really like that she did that but she always told me “we get better mommy”!

  12. If you’re going to tell other people now, tell her now. You don’t want someone else to mention it and take that moment.

    I know some people wait until 12 weeks… my best friend didn’t and then lost hers, after she had told the 2 and 4 year olds. I advised her not to discuss it because I knew it would be too upsetting for all of them. Children have no concept of time, so she didn’t and 2 months later they were pregnant again. Her older children have no idea it technically took over a year for their sister to get here.

  13. My daughter’s are adopted and so was their first baby cousin so they hadn’t been exposed to breastfeeding. When my sis started feeding her second we had the discussion about mommies boobies can make milk and K took to it easily but S got very weirded out I tried explaining that its healthy and good for her little cousin but she wouldn’t have any of it. Now shes gotten used to it but still looks a little sidways at her aunt when she feeds.

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