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Tips on Telling Your Toddler You are Having a Baby

Sharing the spotlight with a new baby is something few toddlers enjoy, and that uneasiness may begin as soon as you reveal what's growing inside Mommy's tummy. Helping your child feel secure about his place in the family will give him a positive start on the road to big sibling-hood. Plenty of love and attention in coming months will be needed to reassure him that he'll always be your baby. But first, you've got to get through that ticklish first announcement.

RELATED: When and How to Tell Your Child You're Pregnant

Hold Off On Sharing

You're teaching your toddler to share, but you might want to consider keeping your big news to yourself at first. Pediatrician and author Dr. William Sears suggests holding off on telling toddlers younger than 2 1/2 about pregnancy until your third trimester, or until your belly becomes obvious. Because your little one can't distinguish between tomorrow and next year, giving him six or seven months of advance notice could confuse him. Sears suggests tying your due date to a date or occasion his young mind will understand. If you're due in early summer, for instance, say that the baby should arrive before your annual family beach trip.

Let Him Guide the Way

When you're ready to break the news, your toddler's attention span won't allow for a lengthy heart-to-heart. So explain your pregnancy simply in age-appropriate language. Say something like, "Mommy and Daddy are so excited because our family is going to have a new baby soon. You're going to be a big brother." Then ask him to share any questions or feelings. Be prepared for him to ask where the baby is coming from -- arm yourself ahead of time with an age-appropriate storybook that will answer his questions. KidsHealth suggests keeping info basic and simple by telling a young child that a baby grows from an egg in the mother's womb. You will definitely want to leave sex out of the conversation at such a tender age -- save the "big talk" for much later.

Amp Him Up

Some toddlers will have tons of questions about the new baby, while others will wander off to play after your announcement -- only to show up at your bedside with concerns at midnight. After you've told him the news, prepare him for the months to come. Use a baby doll to stand in for the new baby and show your toddler where the baby will sleep, how you'll change diapers and how you'll hold her. Give your tot books, clothing and stuffed animals emblazoned with "Big Brother" -- or "Big Sister," as the case may be -- and talk about how lucky the baby will be to have him for a sibling.

RELATED: Arrival of a New Sibling

Keep His World Stable

It's normal for toddlers to be egocentric, says licensed social worker Marsha Greenberg in her book "Raising Your Toddler." So don't expect your child to be thrilled about the news of your pregnancy. He'll quickly start to realize that this abstract baby you're discussing is getting a lot of attention and changing things at home. Beginning with your announcement, strive to keep things in your toddler's world as normal as possible, suggests Greenberg. Saying that he'll get to move out of his crib and into a new big-kid bed when the baby arrives may only serve to make him insecure.

Photo via Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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