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How Can I Make Sure My Toddler Doesn't Get Jealous?

I am a mother of a 23 month old boy and am expecting my second child in February. Do you have any advice on how to prepare my toddler so he doesn't have jealousy issues when the new baby comes?

Suzy B.

Wendy's advice

Barring cloning yourself or hiring a team of nannies, it's unlikely you'll be able to give your toddler the same amount of attention he got as an only child, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Having a sibling will go a long way towards teaching your toddler some important skills he'll need later on, like sharing, taking turns and being aware and respectful of the needs of others. That said, it won't happen overnight, so doing a few things to prepare him for the big event can make the transition considerably easier for everyone involved.

If you plan to move your son out of his crib and into a big-kid bed, I'd do that long before the baby arrives, at least a month, but even earlier if you can. Don't tell your son that the crib is for the new baby, but instead focus on what a big boy he is and try to include him as much as possible in the purchase, or in choosing bedding for his new bed.

When you feel the time is right, start talking to your son about the baby in your tummy. Read books about new babies and talk positively to him about being a big brother. You don't need to go overboard on the enthusiasm, but be positive and make him feel involved in what is going on.

Buy a special toy for your toddler from the baby, and one for him to give his new little brother or sister when they meet each other. It'll give your toddler something positive to associate with his new sibling.

When the baby arrives, ensure that your toddler gets some one-on-one time with daddy (or another prominent adult in his life) when you are busy with the baby, and try to spend some uninterrupted time with him each day while someone else cares for the baby. If he doesn't feel that the baby is displacing him, he won't have any reason to be jealous.

Enlist your toddler's help in caring for the baby. He can pass you diapers, wipes and clothes when you are changing the baby, and he can even help with feeding once the baby is on solids (but supervise this one closely!). Find big-kid jobs for him to do. It'll make him feel involved in caring for his little brother or sister and he'll have some fun too.

The arrival of a new baby should be a celebration for every member of the family. Involving your toddler in the preparations and ensuring he doesn't feel ignored will help him to see his new brother or sister in a positive light.

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