My niece is about to turn one next month, which is strange, because I swear my sister-in-law was just having her baby shower like, last week. I remember how excited her sons, who are 6 and 8, were to tell EVERYONE that they were going to be big brothers. They would run around telling anyone and everyone that they’re going to be big brothers and then proceed to list all the ways in which they were going to help their mom and sister once she was here. For two little dirt-covered, Fortnite playing, rambunctious little boys, they were pretty pumped to help shop for hair bows for their sister. A lot of this excitement about a baby sister was thanks to my SIL. She made sure to make the announcement special for the boys with custom tee shirts (which they LOVED) and turned it into a little party for them.

While breaking the news to my nephews this way worked like a charm for my sister-in-law, every child is different! What works for a kid in third grade is not likely going to work the same way for a preschooler. In fact, the announcement of your newest addition will look pretty different depending on the age group. This ensures that your child can comprehend and digest the fact they’re going to be a sibling the best way they can.

When to Tell?

Navigating Life's Ups and Downs: How to Tell Your Children You?re Expecting

Choosing the time to tell your child or children that your family will be growing is just as important as the way you’re going to tell them. You might be super excited and anxious to tell your little one that they’re going to be a big brother or sister, but it’s essential to make sure that you are ready, physically. Generally, it’s thought that you should break the news to your child after the first trimester, when the chance of a miscarriage is lower, but when to tell your child after that varies slightly depending on their age group, suggests popular mommy blog, Beenke. Finding a calm, non-stressful time to have this talk might feel impossible amidst life’s ups and downs, but it’s important to not compound the stress or anxiety your child might feel after the news with an already unpleasant setting.

According to Beenke, you should tell younger children who don’t necessarily grasp the concept of pregnancy after you start showing. Older kids, who have a general understanding of pregnancy and babies can be told before you start showing your bump, right around when you tell friends and family members. If you have a range of ages in your family, tell everyone together so no one feels excluded from the exciting news!

Age by Age

Now that we’ve covered when to make the announcement to your children, it comes down to the how. But what does the “how” look like? What tactics should soon-to-be mommies (again) use to tackle such huge news? Let’s take a look.

1-2 Year Olds

If your child is under 18 months, they likely will not notice that you’re pregnant, so no need to stress about telling them quite yet. However, as mentioned above, toddlers 18 months + should be told after there is a well-established bump to give them the evidence they need to understand what is happening. Use short, simple sentences and terms to explain what is happening to mommy, using a prop like a doll or stuffed animal if possible to help. If your child is a fan of videos, there are tons available to help explain that there is going to be a new baby in the house, like this “I’m a New Big Sister” video on YouTube . Just make sure that you’re watching the videos with them, and be ready to answer questions that they may have.

3-6 Year Olds

Navigating Life's Ups and Downs: How to Tell Your Children You?re Expecting

At this age, you might want to try some books for your child to break the news and help them understand and get excited about being a new sibling. Plus, they can be wrapped and given as a present to help them feel special during this time of change. Try showing them pictures on your phone or in a photo album of when they were born to get them excited about another baby coming into the house. Encourage them to draw their own baby pictures, or let them take pictures of your tummy, suggests mom.com. Anything to engage them in the pregnancy and help them feel involved.

7-10 Year Olds

For school-aged kids, telling them you’re pregnant is about starting the conversation in an engaging way and then being there for those consequential questions. Going to the petting zoo to see the baby animals, surprising them with tee shirts that tell them they’re going to be a big sibling, and other exciting things are a fun way to tell your little one that you’re expecting. You can also try bringing them to doctor’s appointments, so that they can see ultrasounds and ask the doctor any questions they might have. It’s important to remember to not talk your child out of their feelings, and instead ask them why they’re worried or mad about the baby and then reassure them of their concerns.

Communication is Key

Navigating Life's Ups and Downs: How to Tell Your Children You?re Expecting

It is your job as a parent to be there to answer your child’s questions as best you can and to help them navigate life’s ups and downs. No matter your child’s age, welcoming a new member to the family is a big deal! They’re going to have a lot of questions that will persist past the announcement, throughout the pregnancy, and even after the baby is born. Keeping calm, being honest, and keeping the conversation going is important to help your child understand the changes that will be coming to the family.

At HAPPÉ, we aim to help children navigate through relationships and emotions to help them become calm, confident, and positive through life’s ups and downs. We offer fun micro lessons like Mission I’m Possible to help them master their emotions through “top secret missions” sent right to your email.