Best way to tell a 3-year-old he's about to be a big brother?

My husband and I are going to be having a baby in November. Yay! We’ve told a few family members and a couple of very close friends, but have yet to have the sit-down talk with our 3-year old. I’m sure he knows something’s up - kids are generally smarter than people give them credit for - so we’re thinking we’ll tell him in the next week or two. That way we can speak more freely and he won’t feel like we’re talking over his head. We’re pretty sure he’ll be excited - he’s been asking for a baby for several months now - but we thought we’d wait until the third month so he wouldn’t have to wait so long.

So, any suggestions on how to frame it or anecdotes?

Also, any recommendations on dealing with two kids at once would be more than welcome - this two-child home will be another first for me. How did sleep work out for you when you had another kid? How did it work out for your older child? Did your older child have any adjustment issues? How did you deal with them? And if you work, how did having two kids as opposed to one affect your schedule? Was it a lot harder to keep working or did it require just a few adjustments?

I have so many questions. And I totally forgot how many freaking medical appointments a pregnancy comes with. I’m considered high risk because I had eclampsia last time, so I have more than previously, but sheesh - sometimes I’m torn between thinking, “My doc’s really taking care of me,” and “Wow, they’re milking the insurance company for all it’s worth.” I’m not sick, dammit. I’m pregnant. And the hormones have made me slightly more of a curmudgeon than usual.

I was five and a half when my parents told me that they were expecting my brother in June, and seven months felt like forever. I wonder if it would seem even longer to a kid half that age. But on the other hand, he probably lacks a well developed sense of time, so maybe it won’t.

You’ve already told some people, so I guess my parents’ method won’t work for you without some tailoring towards someone you haven’t told yet: they sat me down and told me that they were going to share an important secret with me - they were going to tell people at Christmas that I was going to have a little brother or sister. It was exciting knowing before my grandparents, but it was a long month until Christmas. I think they had the expectation that it was possible I’d let the cat out of the bag before then, but I didn’t know it at the time.

I have no kids, but I think a straight-forward “mommy’s going to have a baby. It’ll be born around Halloween (this gives him an idea that it’s a long time away). We don’t know yet if it’s a brother or a sister. When the baby is born, you’ll be a big brother.”

My mother had 4 under the age of three, 7 total in 6 years. (two sets of twins, although the 2nd set were born prematurely and died.) She had help from her sisters, when they could come, but it was mostly on her. She always said it was the happiest time of her life.



Make sure you emphasis it’s going to be a baby. Show him photos and videos of little babies and talk about how the baby will need a lot help, not like him because he is bigger. Tell him you’ll need his help with the baby. And let him help you with it.

We just had our second child 2 months ago. We told our other daughter (18 months at the time), mommy had a baby growing inside her and she would be a big sister in a few months. I think we waited until we had an u/s at 9 weeks to confirm everything was okay. I’d point and show her where it was growing and she was often in our weekly belly shot pics pointing at my stomach and kissing it. We even brought her to the 20 week u/s so she could see the baby boy or baby girl. So when they told us it was another girl we enthusiastically told her she was going to have a sister, and she promptly replied with ‘SISTER!’

Because of scheduling issues, I ended up taking my daughter to most of my pregnancy checkups so she’d hear the heartbeat etc too. As things went along I happened to mention I thought I felt the baby’s butt. So for the last 2 months of my pregnancy she’d point at my tummy and go ‘butt?’ She’d also show me her belly and say ‘baby?’ I’d just tell her she had PBJ in there, or whatever she had just eaten, but mommy has a baby in her belly. After I delivered I told her there was no more baby in there, and sister and her butt were outside with us now, and I had PBJ in my belly. I think it went rather well for us.

Now, having 2 kids just over 2 years apart in age has really changed things. I was in a total groove with #1, and #2 has been pretty easy as well, but getting everyone sync’d up on a schedule has been difficult. I have no idea where all the time goes. I wake up and I’m feeding someone, doing chores, feeding someone, trying to sleep, feeding someone…then of course spending time playing/reading etc. I do get a little break while #1 is a daycare in the morning 3x a week - which I highly suggest even while pregnant because then you get some quiet time to yourself, but still…time disappears SO quick!

It’s also been rough here initially since we’ve all been sick off and on these past 2 months and it’d be nice to catch a break from seeing doctors and visiting Walgreen’s! (Baby has been fine, but of course she has her appointments too!)

The second one seems to grow so much faster than the first. We were talking last night about when we started to introduce foods to our first, and we thought ‘wow…that time is getting close!’

I think I hit the highlights, have to put the oldest one down for a nap, and I think the other one is up and still hungry :slight_smile:

#1 was 3 1/2 when I had #2, and we just gently eased him into the idea that there would be a baby coming, in a few months. He wasn’t thrilled, but we read lots of books and watched videos about having a little sibling.

When we let #1 and #2 know that #3 was on the way, less than a year later, #1 was so happy! He packed up #2’s bottle, blanket, and his little stuffed dog, and set the bag by the front door. Apparently, he thought that having another baby meant we were going to get rid of the one we had! :stuck_out_tongue:

As a former child (LOL) I think the worse thing you can do is tell other people and not the kid’s (soon to be) brother.

After all he’s related to it fully and neither father or mother are…(yeah it’s true think about it)

He has a right to know and before others. Nothing worse to a little kid then hearing it from someone else. And nothing worse to a little kid then feeling condecended to, like he’s not important enough to know.

Tell him straight. Mommy’s gonna have a baby around November. Now what questions do you have? If he has none, fine. Then say "Well when you think of any let me know). As he talks to others he’ll have questions and just answer them as they come up.

Also include him in decisions, you don’t have to do what he wants but at least let him have some say. Like what color to paint the baby’s room or what kind of stroller to buy. He probably want care but it’s nice to be asked, even if you don’t do what he says

I won’t have any useful info here… Moon Unit was due when Dweezil would be 2 years 9 months old (she actually arrived 6 weeks early). We tried telling Dweezil about the upcoming baby but it just flew right over his head (in hindsight, probably related to the autism and the cluelessness it engendered).

Finally we told him after she was born, and when she was nearly ready to come home from the hospital (2 weeks old). At that point it became more concrete. We have a wonderful pic of Typo Knig holding the baby and showing her to Dweezil, at the NICU, the night before she came home. I think it helped that Moon Unit had somehow escaped from the NICU and gone shopping and bought Dweezil a stuffed Gromit doll :slight_smile:

“Good news! You’re no longer the center of our attention!”

“You don’t mind sharing your room with a crying baby, right?”

“Prepare yourself for the challenge and the glory of sibling rivalry.”

“You don’t need these toys anymore, do you? We want to give them to your new baby brother.”

Thanks for all the comments so far. There are some great suggestions here.


On average 1/2 of his genes will be in common with the baby, as is the case with the father and mother*.
*Not strictly the case of course as the father and mother will share plenty of genes, especially where the OP is posting from, but you get my meaning.

IIRC it was no big deal in this family. I think I went hunting for newborns of friends (not hard to come by in our circles) and going “Hey, Small Girl. Come and meet tiny baby X, Y’s little brother/sister. Do you know you’re going to get a little brother or sister soon too?”. Contrary to advice above, we did tend to tell close family members and friends before the kids and it wasn’t really a drama - at that age (2 and 4) all the adult conversations sailed right over them anyway. Three or four months was plenty of lead-time. I’d be more careful of telling the kid early if they were older.

I made sure the small girls were well versed in the “four things babies do”:

-go “waah”

so they didn’t get the wrong expectations.

An interesting thing I found with number 2 is that it really showed up to me how the workload had ramped op with number 1. The baby was easy - it was the toddler who was taking all the effort! (she was a particularly easy baby mind you)

As for two-child suggestions - yeah, it can be rough getting the schedule in place, particularly since small babies change so much in such a small amount of time. Getting the older kid to help you is a good one - yours will be four or nearly four when the baby comes, that’s a really good helping age.

Congratulations, and good luck!

Be sure to include lots of details about the sex act itself, including positions etc. - 3 years old should be able to handle that, right?

I was the last born so never went through this myself, but my mom did explain about babies this way -“A seed was planted in a pocket and then a baby comes out”. Ummmmm, not exactly the best explanation. I never ever swallowed a watermelon seed after hearing that one.