As a parent, one may certainly be anxious when becoming pregnant for the second time, albeit for a whole new group of reasons. Whilst you may feel more certain of the changes in your body, you can certainly be forgiven for wondering how it will change your new family dynamic. One important element that may leave you wondering is how it will impact your first-born child. This starts with when and how to break the news.
Telling your toddler is obviously going to be a unique experience, but sharing some of the experiences of other mums as they have gone about this could be a good place to start.
If your son or daughter is not older than two years, there may be some difficulty for them to understand exactly what it means, and you may anyway show less physical changes for a consecutive pregnancy. You should still try to let them know so they can understand. One mum said ‘ I told my son at about the same time we started making it known to our wider family and friends. I didn’t want him confused by hearing it from my mother-in-law or next door. It was just as well, as he went around telling everyone he knew that there was a baby in mummy’s tummy, he just can’t keep secrets’.
Another mum used a number of techniques to prepare her daughter to understand the message. ‘I took a book out of the library where a little girl becomes a big sister, and started pointing out small babies in prams when we went to the park or the shops. When my husband and I told her, we used very short simple sentences and we hugged her a lot so she still felt loved. She still expected the baby to pop out at any minute, and kept asking when, but she did look forward to the birth’.
For parents of a three-year old the task is different still. Choosing when to tell your little one is one decision to make. Avoid pressure times like when your son or daughter is getting ready for an outing or for bed, or otherwise distracted. One mum remembers that ‘my son was still trying to drop his afternoon nap, so some afternoons he was grumpier than usual, so I planned to tell him mid-morning when he was at his most receptive’.
Whilst some children may be very interested, it is also important to understand that others may take longer to absorb the news. One set of parents said that ‘our son did not seem interested at all after we told him. Later on he was so curious about the baby, he kept asking question after question. We didn’t mind answering them as it showed us that he was really trying to make sense of it all’.
Different toddlers will take the news differently of course. What is important is to make sure they all still feel loved and wanted. One family chose to include their toddler in the news-sharing process. ‘We asked our daughter if she would like to tell Granny and Grandpa, and she was thrilled to be part of it all’. Every family has the chance to find positive and meaningful ways to make sure that their toddler looks forward to their new brother or sister with happiness.