Toddler Jealous of New Baby

Do you have a toddler and now you’re expecting another baby? While this is an exciting time, expanding your family – it can also bring fears to parents about how life will change. How can you possibly love another baby as much as the one you already have? Well, your heart will simply expand – not split or share the love you already have for your first child.  

But what can be more challenging is that your toddler may not feel the same way. Jealousy is very common when a new baby is born. Your first child may feel something called “Dethronement” and their entire life is flipped upside down. 

There are ways to prepare your child during your pregnancy and how you can involve them once the baby is born to reduce jealousy and promote sibling bonding. 

How to Prepare Your Child

  • Don’t rush them into another skill before they’re ready because you’re worried about perfecting the timing before the new baby arrives. Don’t rush potty training (I know two kids in diapers is A LOT), or transitioning them into a bed from their crib until they’re ready. This can create a lot of negative feelings about the new baby and just make the transition more difficult. 
  • Allow them to participate in the process of getting ready for the new baby. Let them pick sleepers, comforters or a stuffed animal. 
  • Try to describe to them what is honestly going to change and don’t minimize the changes. Ie. When the new baby comes home, mommy or daddy will need lots of help feeding, changing and keeping the new baby clean. Sometimes mommy or daddy might be with the new baby for bedtime, but one of us will always be here to care for you too. 
  • Don’t make false promises about the new baby being a new playmate, or that their new little brother or sister will snuggle and cuddle them all day. In reality, the new baby takes attention away from them, and may cry frequently throughout the day. If we fib and say the baby will always be in a good mood we can make our toddler feel they are the one causing the baby to cry. 
  • Ask your child what is important to them to stay the same, and try to be flexible and give them what they need. If they always want one parent to be present at bedtime, explain that may not be able to happen but both parents will promise to do xyz at bedtime the same way. 
  • Emphasize to your child what will stay the same. They may feel like everything in their life is going to be different. Explain to them you will still be there every morning when they wake up, you’ll still go play at the park, they still get to go to grandma’s house, or they’re going to stay in their own room. Remember that your child has no idea what is going to happen, you need to be explicit with them. 

After the Baby is Born

  • Involve your older child in the feeding process. Let them bring you a pillow, a washcloth for burping, get you something to drink or help burp the baby (safely of course). 
  • Let your toddler help with diaper changes, they can grab a new diaper or sleeper for you. Let them help. 
  • Have all caregivers spend 15 minutes per day 1:1 with your older child(ren). They need attention from all caregivers and they do best with child-directed play. Let them choose the activity. The best time for this to occur is usually after dinner. Leave the dishes, and go play with your child so they know you’re still there for them on a 1:1 basis. 
  • Be flexible with mornings or bedtime. If your partner needs to hold the baby for a few minutes while you read your toddler a bedtime story because it’s your turn – do that. The new baby can be comforted by the non-feeding parent for a few minutes. Remember you have already raised one (or more) child(ren). You both know how to comfort a baby – lean on each other so you can keep your promises to your toddler. 

If you are looking for more support transitioning to life with a new baby and a toddler – check out my postpartum and newborn support packages here. We are here to support you through all life’s changes and expansions. 

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