Talking to Kids About Becoming a Big Sibling

How do you announce the impending arrival of a new baby? You might send friends a sweet bitmoji, take your family to brunch, or just post a an awesome YouTube video. But the even harder question is how do you tell your existing children that one more will be joining the ranks?  We thought we would turn to some experts (a.k.a moms) and hear how they imparted the news. Allison Lefrak, consumer protection attorney at the Federal Trade Commission; Betina Chan-Martin, Twigtale's head of product and creator of the iPhone App UrbanBib; and Sitinee Sheffert, founder of Giving Artfully and Giving Artfully Kids, shared their stories with us.  

 

How did you tell your child a new baby was on the way? (Or did you?)

Allison 

My son Luke was only 19 months old when his sister Harper was born.  Because he was so young, he did not fully grasp her impending arrival – although he did seem to take note of my giant stomach towards the end of the pregnancy.  I recall reading very basic books with him about becoming a big brother, but I’m not sure how much of that really sunk in since he was still so young. 

When I was pregnant with my third child, my other kids were 2 and 4.  My oldest child definitely understood what was happening this time around.  And the 2 year old seemed to have a vague understanding as well.  We didn’t find out the gender of the baby in advance so that resulted in lots of discussion about what they each hoped the baby would be.  Not surprisingly, Luke was hoping for a brother and Harper was hoping for a sister.  Luke explained that he already had a sister so he didn’t need another one.  (Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what he got!)

Betina 

My daughter is 5 now, so she’s pretty in tune with what’s going on in the house. My first trimester this time around was rough. I was constantly gagging in the kitchen and at the grocery store.  Early on, we just told her I was sick, but then she discovered my pregnancy lollipops. So, we ended up telling her that this sugar was reserved for me - because I was pregnant.  Coincidentally, we told her on Mother’s Day. 

Sitinee

With the most recent arrival of our fourth, our kids were 5, 6, and 8.  For our 5-year-old, we wanted to make it special since this was her first time being a big sister.  We bought her a book called I'm a Big Sister.  For the other two, we also bought them book What to Expect When Mommy is Expecting. We wrapped the books up and had the kids unwrap them at the same time.  

 


How did he or she react to the news? 

Betina 

She had never expressed that much interest in having a sibling.  She was much more interested in getting a puppy or kitten, but she was all smiles when we told her.  She even teared up and said they were happy tears and exclaimed that our lives were going to change forever.  Little does she know… 

Sitinee 

They were all so excited - especially my youngest.  She has been wanting to be a big sister for so long, so she was absolutely thrilled.  My son was ecstatic, because now as he states, "the family is even, two boys and two girls".  My oldest daughter was in heaven - she loves being an older sibling.

 

What was the best/most exciting part about bringing a new baby home?

Allison 

For me, the most exciting part about bringing home our third child was the feeling I had that our family was finally complete.  My husband and I had agreed at some point that we hoped we would be fortunate enough to have three children.  Once we brought home our daughter Abigail, I felt a sense of gratitude that were able to have the three children we had hoped for.  I was also very excited about having a family photo taken when she was a few months old because it would be the first photo of our complete family. 

Betina

Besides meeting her (it’s a baby girl due in December), I can’t wait to share the joys of parenthood with my older daughter.  It’ll also be nice to have another pair of hands to help out. Who am I kidding?  My daughter is going to take the night shift :)

Sitinee

I was happy about having three kids, but knew that I wanted one more. So when we brought Crosby home, I just looked at my family gathering around him and knew that he had completed our family. I loved that my older kids could really cherish the experience of having a newborn in the house.

 

What was the most difficult part of the transition? 

Allison

The most difficult part of transitioning to having a third child was that we were living in a townhouse we had already outgrown before she arrived.  The older two kids were forced to share one small room so the baby could have her own room.  Since they are not the same gender, decorating their one small room in a way that satisfied both of them was a little tricky.  I finally ended up buying wall decals (Hello Kitty for her and Angry Birds for him) so they could each make the room (or at least one wall of it!) their own.

Betina

Madeleine’s been fine. For me, it's been feeling a tad guilty knowing I will have to split up my time between the new baby and Madeleine. I’ve never wanted to miss a moment in my daughter’s life and now I know I will. 

Sitinee

I think the hardest part is telling my kids that I couldn't do something with them because I had to nurse. To them they felt like I was nursing all the time.