Dealing with Sibling Rivalry
Prepare your child for the new baby from the very moment that you give him the news in order to help avoid the sibling rivalry jealousy issue. When you tell him that he is going to have a new brother or sister, let him know that this is his baby, too. During the remaining months, continue to speak of the baby as his. Encourage him to talk to his brother or sister inside mommy's abdomen. Children have a great imagination.
Here's another tip for keeping sibling rivalry from becoming an issue: when shopping for baby items, allow your child to help you pick them out. Just before birth take your child out to get his own special gift to bring the baby at the hospital. Don't be surprised if your two-year-old picks out a matchbox car, and if he does, gently explain that it could hurt the baby and guide him to another toy.
Avoiding Jealousy At the Hospital
When your older child comes to the hospital, it is usually better if the baby is not in mommy's or daddy's arms (at first). This will help to head off any unnecessary sibling rivalry. Enthusiastically greet your child and ask if he is ready to meet his brother or sister. Place the baby in the older sibling's arms after placing his arm over a pillow so that he feels like he is holding the baby. Show him how to support the baby's head.
Bringing Home Your New Baby
Now for the hard part. At home you may be overly protective of the baby. Because this is an adjustment period for all, it would be good to allow the older sibling to help diaper, feed and hold the baby, however inconvenient, to avoid jealousy and sibling rivalry. I guarantee that your older child will only want to hold the baby for a moment. If the baby cries while he is holding her, explain that the baby is hungry or has a dirty diaper that is hurting her and needs mommy or daddy to change or feed her. Generally, it is worth the aggravation of placing the baby in your toddler's arms if it can head off jealousy. This baby will truly feel like his.
Be prepared for testing. Your older child only wants to know that he is as important as he was before the baby arrived. There will be times when the older sibling does not know what to do with himself - after all he was usually the one in your arms, and now your arms aren't so empty. There may be times when you need to put down the baby just to give your toddler a hug!