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Getting Your Children Ready for a New Baby

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Updated August 01, 2014

Sister and Newborn Sibling

Sister and a New Baby

Photo © Kati Molin - Fotolia.com

Having a new baby is very exciting, even if it isn't your first child. Along with the regular preparations for a new baby come the added responsibilities of preparing other children for a new bundle of joy.

When to you tell your children and what to say about the pregnancy and a new baby really depends a lot on the age and maturity level of that child.

An older child with more of a concept of time passage will be able to learn earlier in the pregnancy than a child who has no concept of time. Some people choose to relate the time of the baby's birth to an event, which works well even for smaller children. For example, "The new baby will come near Thanksgiving."

Another thing to keep in mind about when to tell a child is how fearful you are of having to explain an early loss.

We actually told our older children early in pregnancy. My personal view point was that we'd have to explain my elation, nausea, or my depression. When we did lose our baby, we simply explained that our baby was born way too early to survive outside. They still remember and think about our "purple baby," as they named it.

Most children have gathered a concept of pregnancy from pregnant relatives, friends, and people that they see on the streets. An older child may be really interested in the mechanics of pregnancy, such as the placenta and how it feeds the baby. How a baby learns to breathe, eat, or eliminate waste. A few children ask in passing how the baby got there. Remember to give them details of only what they really want to know. A few questions from you might help you clarify that, and they may not really be asking for a complete description. Sometimes they just want to make sure it isn't really from watermelon seeds!

Advice from other moms:

"Our baby is due in the next couple of weeks, so today I gave each child a newborn baby one piece and set out some bottles of fabric paint. They each made a t-shirt for their new sibling to wear. I caught the whole thing on video.

"Another thing we have done throughout the pregnancy is to take the boys with us to all of the prenatal meetings. The midwife gives them jobs to do. One squirts the jelly on my belly and the other holds the Doppler, turns it on and reads off the numbers. They take turns pulling out the measuring tape and pushing the button to reel it back in." -Jodie

"I found that a few things have helped me so far. My daughter is 4 1/2 and we are expecting her baby brother in September. As soon as we found out we were pregnant we told her that she was going to be a big sister and mommy's tummy was going to grow because that is where the baby is, just like when I was pregnant with her. We also let her pick out some things for the baby's room, and even let her give her input as to what names she likes for her little brother. She is really looking forward to the arrival of her little brother, and even says "goodnight" to my tummy every night!!!" -Tracy

Related: 8 Ways to Prepare Your Older Child or Teen for a New Baby

Readers Respond: How did you tell your children that they're going to be a big brother or sister?

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