Preparing your older child for the arrival of a new baby can start whenever you are ready. You may want your child to be the first to know that you’re expecting, or you may want to wait until you have progressed further into your pregnancy to talk to them about the baby and help them prepare for the changes that are on the way.
In terms of timing for when you can start talking to your little one about the new baby, it really is a personal choice for when you feel ready and confident in starting the conversation. Your decision may be influenced by many things that are unique to your family’s situation:
You may feel more comfortable waiting until you have had early scans and appointments with your doctor and midwife before you start to introduce your oldest to the idea of becoming a big brother or sister.
The first trimester can be challenging for some, and you may be suffering from sickness or feeling much more tired than usual. Explaining to your older child why you are feeling this way may help them understand what is happening around them and explain why you may be less active or energetic than usual.
Consider other big events, such as starting nursery or school, potty training or transitioning from a cot to bed, that your oldest child might be going through. If these changes are on the horizon then think about when you can share the news of the new baby with them at a time when they can process each of these changes more easily.
How you plan will depend on where you are in your pregnancy and what factors you have control. If big events are happening during the early weeks of pregnancy then you may find it helpful to wait a little before discussing the pregnancy, and let your older child settle into their new routine and process other changes first.
If you are thinking about when to introduce some big changes such as potty training or transitioning to a bed, and it is possible to, then try to avoid these happening towards the end of your pregnancy or your due date so that these big events aren’t happening all at the same time.
It can be overwhelming for some children to adapt to lots of change at the same time, so some forward thinking and planning can help you support them. But, we need to be realistic and not feel too worried about timings if we can’t change them. We can’t control everything around us or are children, but we can support them and guide them through changes by being supportive, honest and reassuring.