There�s a New Kid in Town

For most people, the arrival of a new child is a time of celebration and joy. For your toddler, it is often a time of resentment and possibly even regression. While this is normal behavior for toddlers when a new sibling invades their home turf, it can cause some stress and frustration for parents.

Is This Normal?
Since you�ve come home from the hospital with your new baby, your toddler has suddenly started sucking her thumb, talking like a baby, and is insisting that she wants to be breastfed even though you weaned her almost a year ago. Considering that, up until now, your toddler has been insisting on being a "big girl" and doing everything herself, it is somewhat surprising to suddenly see her want to be so dependent again. Welcome to the regression phase.

It is more than normal for your toddler�s jealousy of their new sibling to result in regressive behavior. Since your two-year-old is used to being the center of your universe, now that the baby is dominating your attention, your toddler will do everything they can to get your interest back. And if that means acting like their two-week-old sibling, well then so be it.

Although it may not be easy, avoid getting angry or criticizing your toddler for their behavior. Verbal encouragement when your toddler does act age appropriately can help him realize that not acting like a baby makes mommy happy.

Deceiving Appearances
While toddlers can be happy about having a new sibling, sometimes their happiness is just a mask to make their parents happy. If you�re worried that your toddler may be suppressing their feelings, ask them what they think of the baby. Do they like having a baby in the house? Do they like being an older sibling? What don�t they like about having a baby in the house?

And don�t be shy with your own feelings. Let your toddler know that you find taking care of the baby hard work (that�s why you need their help). Hearing that you can get frustrated with the baby will help your toddler know that it�s okay for them to feel upset, too.

A Love/Hate Relationship
Some toddlers are not shy about their feelings towards their new sibling. They convey their emotions of frustration and anger by hitting, pinching or throwing things at the baby. If you discover your toddler behaving in this manner, separate her immediately from the baby and tell her that it is not acceptable to hurt the baby. If you feel it is warranted, then discipline her with a short time out. It is also a good idea to keep a close watch on all their interactions over the next few weeks.

You can also help encourage some warm, fuzzy feelings by pointing out how much the baby likes their older sibling. Commenting "See how much the baby smiles when you make that funny face? She really loves her big sister." can help melt away that anger. Pointing out how all the things your toddler can do may inspire some feelings of sorrow for their little brother. Saying, "Joel is so jealous of you. He wishes he could read a book, too," lets your toddler know that being a baby isn�t all it�s cracked up to be.

It may be helpful to ask your toddler to help with the baby�s care. But, if he�s not interested, don�t force the issue as it could lead to more resentment. If he does help, then let him know what a "great big brother" he is.

Making the Transition Easier
Bringing a new baby into your home doesn�t always have to be a traumatic event for your toddler. If you take precautions and prepare your toddler for their new role as an older sibling, you may find yourself living in a very happy home.

Before the baby arrives, prepare your toddler by telling them about the pregnancy a few months in advance. You may want to wait until you are really showing your pregnancy so that your toddler can better understand that there�s a baby in mommy�s tummy. Let your toddler feel the baby as it moves around and kicks. Encourage your toddler to ask you questions about the baby and pregnancy. Explain to your toddler how things will change around your home and stress their role as being a big sister or brother. And don�t forget to emphasize how your love for your toddler will never change, even when the baby comes home. You can also have your toddler help you pick out items for the nursery.

Once the baby is home, make sure you schedule some regular, one-on-one time with your toddler. It�s a good idea that both you and your partner strive to do this so that your toddler can know that he is still special to both of his parents. If your toddler does express an interest in helping out with the baby, thank her and tell her what a big help she is to you, even if she just handed you a diaper.

A toddler�s dislike for their new sibling is very common but is also a phase. With a little patience, you may find your toddler will soon be happy to be a big sister.

Help your child adjust to his new sibbling by getting advice from other moms in our toddler forum.