TODDLER + BABY
Your toddler may feel like she's been knocked off of American Idol by some up-and-coming, no-good, talentless singer who seemed to come out of nowhere. Curb her jealousy by:
Preparing her for the new baby ahead of time. Spend time with other people's babies, read her books on how great it is to be the big sister, and talk (very excitedly) about how she will be the big kid in the family soon. Even young toddlers understand "baby." And if you can sell yours on the idea that a new baby means great stuff for her, the transition from only child to sibling will be smoother.
Showering her with gifts. Make sure your toddler gets some big-sister goodies from relatives and you when you bring the baby home. It'll not only make her feel special, it'll keep her mind off all the new-baby fuss. Who doesn't like new toys?
Never blaming any disappointments on the baby. If you admit to your toddler she can't go to the playground because the baby needs his nap, you're only fueling the jealousy fire. Instead, just tell her you'll go to the playground later, then divert her attention with something else fun (and quiet and indoors). Toddlers have a short attention span. Use it to your advantage.
Spending alone time with her. Ease her fear of displacement by reassuring her that she's still loved. My husband spent extra time with our older son while I tended to the newborn. But I also made sure my toddler and I had time alone together whenever I could, especially during the baby's morning nap. He got a lot of one-on-one time with his grandmothers as well, and, frankly, they spoiled him during the time they were together, thereby making me a little jealous.
Your kids are going to wallop each other over the years, but your baby is no match for a walking, whacking toddler. Prevent trouble by:
Never leaving your toddler alone with the baby. Even if he doesn't have an evil plot to harm his new little sibling, his well-meaning help (such as "feeding" the baby some of his favorite snacks) just might.
Never telling your toddler he's in charge of the baby. He's too little to babysit, and he shouldn't think he can take over for you. Thank him for handing you the soap, but don't ever say, "Ryan is in charge of the baby's bath." He might believe it.
Never laughing when your toddler hits you. Sure, that teeny little fist trying to land a blow might be pretty hilarious and worth laughing about with your husband later. But it's important to teach him he can't hit anyone, so he doesn't try to hit the baby.