Image by Micah Taylor
By Nina, Modern Alternative Pregnancy editor
Having had four kids, I’ve had to explain to toddlers a few times that there was a baby in Mama’s tummy. The older they got (and more experienced with seeing a newborn sibling), the easier it was for them to understand.
We told our kids that we were expecting a new sibling soon after we found out ourselves. We wanted them to share in the excitement and to explain that Mama might not be feeling very well for a while. There would be excitement all around, sometimes because they understood, sometimes because an older siblings was excited, so they were excited, too.
Regardless of their initial reaction, we felt it was important to give them plenty of time to prepare for this new sibling and adjust to the idea of sharing Mama and Daddy with someone new. Here are methods we used:
I’ve had birth books in my home for several years and my kids have always been free to look through them. Some times they were extremely interested in all of the pictures and asked question after question about the birth process. Other times, they would glance and shrug. Either way, it was a great tool for them to become familiar with birth and ask questions freely. When I was pregnant, it also helped them to understand what was going on inside my belly and what to expect when I went into labor.
My children love to hear stories about themselves when they were babies. To help kids prepare for the new baby, you can tell them the story of their birth, what it was like when they were a newborn and even different stories you remember from pregnancy.
There are also children’s books designed to prepare siblings for the birth of their new brother or sister. Books like I’m a Big Sister or Waiting for Baby are fun stories you can read to help them get ready.
As long as I didn’t think a birth video would scare my kids (I screened to be sure), I would let my kids watch birth videos with me. My kids are huge fans of YouTube and happily watched them with me, asking questions and smiling over the new baby. There are also some great birth documentaries available on Netflix or Amazon that you can watch to see if it would be a good tool in preparing your little ones.
Let them feel the baby move
This was one of my favorites, because I loved seeing the joy it brought my kids. Your kids may be different, but the baby became more “real” when they could feel him or her kicking in my belly. When I was pregnant with our youngest, the other kids and I would watch my belly move and speculate that Isaiah would be a really active guy. They were right. 🙂
Take Them to Prenatal Appointments
Admittedly, this was much easier for me when I switched to a midwife in the middle of my third pregnancy. She lived a few houses away and would just walk over for my prenatal appointments. However, she had moved before I got pregnant with my fourth and I did prenatal appointments at her new office.
Taking kids with me was a bit of a challenge, but they really enjoyed listening to the baby’s heart beat and watching me get my belly measured. (And if I planned well, I could take turns with which child got to go to appointments). They also got to ask my midwife questions and get to know her better, since they’d see a lot more of here when I was in labor and after the baby was born.