Telling elder siblings
Sharing the news of your pregnancy with your children is an exciting time. How early you tell them would probably depend on how old they are. Telling a young child early in the pregnancy leaves them with a tremendously long wait before the big day.
Without wanting to sound negative, I believe it is beneficial that you wait at least until you’ve had your 12 week scan. This was something that we didn’t do during my third pregnancy, which sadly ended in miscarriage at 11 weeks. I feel that had we waited until after the scan was due, we would have saved our children a lot of upset. Older children and teenagers could be told earlier as it won’t seem like such a long time to them. As well as the fact that they will be more aware of things that indicates your pregnancy.
Explaining the baby to younger children
Younger children will need to be explained to in simple terms and will need reassurance of how special they are and how the baby will not replace them. Where possible involve them in the pregnancy; let them feel the baby move and let them help by choosing items such as baby clothes and toys. You could also ask for name suggestions but be prepared for names such as Pingu or Kipper to be suggested. My daughter was most insulted when we refused to consider her choices of Titania and Oberon for our baby!
You may find that the dreaded “Where do babies come from?” question is asked at some point. It would be useful to have a simple book to help you explain. If you feel that your child is too young to understand; my friend used the line, “I want to tell you but I want to be able to tell you so that understand properly, so when mummy thinks she can explain it to you she will tell you”. This probably isn’t considered to be the right thing to do by some “experts” but if its right for you then who cares, you are not lying to your child, it beats “The stork brought you” any day.
Telling older children
Older children will also benefit in being included in your pregnancy. Talk to them about the pregnancy and let them help you choose baby products. Maybe they could have a say on some of the bigger items such as the pram or the cot (it may be advisable to narrow it down to your favourite two or three models). Older children can feel just as insecure (if not more so) than little ones. They need to know how special and loved they are too. This can be especially important if you and/or your partner have children from previous relationships.
Make sure they feel involved in family life and make time to talk to them about any worries and concerns they may have. Children and teenagers that present you with a don’t care attitude do care and are scared of rejection or getting hurt. So keep listening to their feelings and be patient and understanding (not easy I know). But it will be so rewarding to see them develop a bond with their new sibling.