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Family dynamics

12th Apr 2024

How to prepare your toddler, school-age children and teens for a new arrival

Sophie Collins

New baby

Do you have a baby number two, three or four on the way?

Breaking the news of a new baby to your children will vary hugely depending on their age and understanding of the situation, according to Katie Massie-Taylor, Founder of LittleList.

For instance, if you’ve fallen pregnant when your child, or children, are toddlers or infants, “books can be a lovely way of helping them to understand the fact that you’re carrying another baby, and that they can expect a sibling,” Katie says.

One particular book she recommends is, ‘There’s a House Inside My Mummy,’ which includes simple yet effective descriptions of the older sibling talking to their sibling in the mummy’s tummy before concluding with a picture of the family of four which includes the newborn. 

“Reading a book like this (and there are loads of different ones to choose from) with your younger child can help to explain while also reassuring them at such a time of change.” 

School Age Children

You might think it will be easier for school-aged children to understand what is happening with a new baby and “the fact that their emotions are more developed could mean that they might find the impending change scary, or worry that it will impact their relationship with you,” Katie Advises.

She went on to say that the key here is “making them feel involved in what’s going on rather than a spare part”.

A good way to do this is by picking a good time to sit down with them on your own and break the news. 

You could use props, like a t-shirt that says ‘Big Brother’ or the scan picture to help broach the subject. 

“However you decide to do it as long as you deliver the message with lashings of love and reassurance they’ll quickly get used to the idea.”

Teenage Children

Teenagers will have no problem understanding the news, but their hormones may make it more complicated for them to get their head around emotionally, Katie says.

“There are a huge range of greeting cards you can buy with messages to break the news, and by choosing one that focuses on the positive impact it will have on their life will help to set a positive tone. For example, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to be a big sister!’”

Choose the right moment to break the news when you’re not disturbed by other people or distractions, and make it a celebration of them becoming a sibling rather than of you having a new baby. Explaining to them that you’ll need their help, and even getting them involved with things like buying baby stuff and shortlisting names will really help too.