Helping Your Toddler Adjust to a New Sibling


Whether your toddler's siblings are older, younger, or yet to be born there will be a variety of sibling-related issues to deal with. As parents, you will need to decide when to intervene, mediate, or turn your back all together and let things work themselves out. Listed below are some suggestions for the sibling scenarios you will most likely encounter. Use this advice as a guide to help you deal with the hundreds of other situations that are sure to arise.

Bringing Baby Home

It is usually a hectic time when mother and father bring the new baby home from the hospital. Mom is usually tired and preoccupied with feedings and caring for herself and the baby. Father is distracted trying to be as helpful as possible. The older child will feel left out and ignored. So this is the new baby!

As difficult as it may seem, the arrival of a new baby should change your older child's life as little as possible. Emphasize the things that are going to stay the same: you will still play with the same toys; we will still go to the same park to play; we' ll still have our special times together. You should try to make all possible big changes several months prior to the birth of the baby. If the older child's room is to become the nursery, move him prior to the birth and make a big production out of the new "big boy's (or girl's) room. This way he will feel as though he is moving because he is a big boy and not because the baby is pushing him out.

If your child is old enough to be helpful with the new baby, take advantage of the opportunity! Even a young child can get you baby wipes or a bottle or a new diaper and every little thing that he can do will only help with the bonding process with the new sibling. A small child almost always wants to hold the new baby, and parents tend to hesitate for fear of hurting the baby. But, if the child sits on the floor or in a large upholstered chair, there's little risk. Stay close just in case, but not so close that your older child senses your concern. In these small ways the parents can help a child to actually transform resentful feelings into cooperativeness.

More often than not, the left-out feeling is more apt to be experienced by the first child when the second baby arrives, because he has always been in the spotlight and has no experience sharing his parent's love with others. The middle child doesn't have decide between being a parent and being a baby when the new one arrives. He can see that he is still just one of the children, as he has always been.


Childhood jealousy takes many forms. Whether your child decides to bop the new baby on the head with a toy, or becomes mopey and dependent, or becomes preoccupied and introverted, you can be assured that there is always some sort of jealousy going on. Your job is not to forcibly suppress the jealousy but rather to help the feelings of affection come out.