Congratulations on expecting a new addition to your family! While you might feel super excited, if you already have a little one, you may have some concerns about what this means for them, your relationship and how you’ll manage day to day. Here at Smart Cells, we understand that parenthood comes with a huge range of emotions, from excitement and joy to some nerves and worries. Preparing your toddler for a new sibling is a crucial step in making sure the fun of a new sibling is a smooth transition for everybody.

Even if you shower your toddler with all the love and finest things in the world, the arrival of a new sibling can be quite unsettling. They’ve been the centre of your world for so long, and a new baby will undoubtedly demand a share of your attention! The good news is that there are a few simple things that take just a little planning and communication that will help your little one embrace their new role as a big brother or sister.

Start the Conversation Early

There’s no need to wait until the baby arrives to start talking about it! Introduce the concept of their new sibling by explaining your growing tummy where a baby is growing who will soon join your family. The best way to do this is little and often, using simple language. There are even lovely picture books which show families welcoming new babies.

Involve Your Toddler

Little ones learn best through hands-on experience, so let them get involved in everything including setting up the nursery such as choosing a paint colour for the walls, bedding for the cot or even a special toy for the baby. Discuss baby name ideas with them and welcome their ideas – maybe you could use a special name that they choose to refer to your growing bump!

A lovely way to get your little one involved and to understand what sort of thing to expect in the coming months, let them choose their own doll so they can play pretend being a caring sibling before baby arrives. They will love pretending to feed the baby, rocking them to sleep, taking them for walks and tucking them into bed with a song, many will also find it hilarious to change their doll’s nappy!

Manage Expectations

Toddlers are not the biggest fans of change, and mummy and daddy being away for a little while during the birth might seem like a scary prospect. If they’re going to stay with grandparents or a friend during this time, build up some excitement around it – discuss what they might be able to do, what special treats they might have, and more importantly, explain how their new sibling will be there when they come home again!

You may also need to explain how babies cry a lot and need constant attention if they haven’t been around babies before. Here you can explain how your attention might be on the baby for a short periods of time, but that you still love them just as much.

The Big Day

When it’s time to welcome the new sibling to the family, make a grand occasion out of it! Plan a little celebration for the first time your older child meets the new arrival, maybe prepare a little gift that the new baby has “brought” for their big brother or sister! Let them hold the new baby and give them a cuddle, then shower them with praise for being such a lovely sibling already.

Quality Time

As you settle back into life as a new extended family, don’t forget to continue the quality time with your older child as well as the new baby. Once things are a little calmer, consider carving out some time for little “dates” with your toddler while the other parent takes care of the baby. This might be as simple as a walk to the park or doing a jigsaw or a craft activity while the baby sleeps. These moments will mean a lot to your toddler!

And don’t forget that you are not alone in your parenting journey! Use resources around you such as health visitors if you’re finding it hard to manage time and emotions with a new arrival, and call upon friends and family if you need it.