Pregnancy: When to tell your child

I just found out I will be a mommy again. How and when should I let my three- year-old son know?

Question:

Congratulations! I am sure that you are very excited. As you know, your son may not have exactly the same reaction. It is important to remember that a baby still inside "mommy's tummy" is a confusing concept for the very young child.

The rule of thumb is to tell your child that you are having a baby when you start to look pregnant. This way, the wait is not as long for your son as it is for everyone else.

There is, however, an exception to this rule. If you are obviously unwell, from a difficult bout with morning sickness or anything else related to the pregnancy, it is, in my opinion, better to tell your child that you are pregnant. Your son will be quite relieved to hear that there is nothing wrong with you.

Although I don't think it is a good idea to tell your child the minute you learn that you are pregnant, sooner is better than later. It is important for your firstborn to have time to adjust to the fact that a new family member is coming. Your child needs sufficient time to ask the many questions he will have and you need the time to answer them.

The simplest way to tell your son is just to say that you are having a baby and that he will be a big brother. Even if you know what sex you are having, you shouldn't say it definitively since there are sometimes mistakes made when looking at the sonogram. Instead, you might say, "We think it's a girl" or "We think it's a boy."

Most important, remember to reassure your son that you will love him as much as ever, even after the baby is born. Children like to be reassured that they will not lose their place in their parents' hearts. The time-honored line, "You'll always be my baby" is still the most effective one I know for making an older child feel comforted and comfortable!

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