How to Tell a Child You're Pregnant

With three years and seven months of parenting in the books, my husband and I have experienced lots of big milestones with our son, Jasper — figuring out sleep, potty training, the end of pacifiers, starting school — and we haven’t been completely and utterly stumped at any of these turning points. Until now…

I’m excited to say that I’m 20 weeks pregnant, halfway there on a huge change for our family, and pretty much the only person we know who has no idea it’s happening is Jasper. We haven’t told him yet. For a while, friends and family understood why we’ve waited: what if something were to happen to the baby early on, what if Jasper started asking every five minutes when the baby would be here, what if he were disappointed or worried or… we’ve come up with a lot of rationales. When I say them out loud they all sound designed to protect Jasper and make me feel like I’m a very relaxed mom because, what’s the rush? But if I’m being honest we’ve held off because a) we don’t really know how to tell him and b) while we can’t wait to welcome a new baby into our family, we also love how things are right now. I’d like to stay here just a little while longer.

I know Jasper will be a sweet older brother. He holds our dog’s leash with white knuckles when we cross the street, making sure he doesn’t stray too close to cars. He carefully pushes his friends’ baby siblings on the playground swings. He tucks two of his stuffed animals in my bed (one on each pillow) every night before he goes to sleep, so my husband and I won’t be lonely. And I often hear him whispering to a toy about a cool thing he did that day or telling it, “Don’t worry,” about something or other. How fun it will be for him to have a sibling to talk to! Right? Then why is telling him proving to be so hard for me?

Every once in a while, Jasper will broach the topic of a brother or sister. The last time this came up we were taking a bath together (with my burgeoning belly squeezed in between us), and he told me, “Mommy, I want to get a brother or sister. I’ll teach them how to draw.” I asked him where they would sleep. “Right here in the bathroom, where it’s so warm,” he said. And I asked what we would name them. “Netflix,” he said.

Needless to say, I would love to hear your advice on how and when to tell a first child about a new baby. Am I overthinking it? Joanna gave me The Baby Tree to read to Jasper once the cat is out of the bag, and I’m getting more excited now!

P.S. Going from one kid to two, and how to keep up your relationship after kids.