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Reality Check: Early Sibling Rivalry

Q. Our toddler ignores her new baby sister. Are there ways we can get her to interact with her more?


A. Can you blame her if she's not all goo-goo ga-ga over the new kid in the crib? She's been the queen of the castle since the day you brought her home, and now here comes this wrinkly crybaby, setting new schedules and hogging her favorite seat (your lap). What's a toddler to do? Count your blessings she's ignoring her  -- and not taking a swing.

At the same time, remember that toddlers don't bone up on the latest methods of nurturing newborns. They just know what they like, and they're quite good at making sure you know the things they don't. Your child's just not into her sister. In fact, even though she has a sister, and you've no doubt told her she has a sister, she doesn't even really know what a sister is. Yet.

You can help her at least acknowledge  -- and start to understand  -- her sibling's existence. Little kids love to "help," so let her assist you with baby duties. Have her see you reading lovingly to the baby, and then invite her to "read" her favorite story to her, or ask her to get the diapers and wipes and then sing a song to her while she's being changed. Also, be sure to carve out some special time for just the two of you so she knows she still reigns in your heart, even if there is a little queen in the next room.

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