Sibling Squabbles and Fighting

Battle Zone: Mom's Lap

The Face-Off: Your infant is nursing comfortably in your arms, but your 2-year-old wants to climb up into your lap and snuggle now.

What's Going On: Your toddler wants to be a big kid, but he hasn't completely left babyhood behind. "Your newborn is a physical reminder to your older child that he no longer occupies that special baby place," says Yael Sank, a psychotherapist at Soho Parenting, in New York City. "All he knows, at this age, is that now he has to share his mommy's love with someone else."

Keeping the Peace: A 2-year-old is too young to understand the concept of having a sibling, so playing the big-brother card is not going to make him feel better about his new situation. Instead, be proactive about his fragile feelings. A simple "Mommy's about to nurse, so let's get you comfy first" will let your child know that he's important too. Have a special DVD or stickers to offer as an activity, or invite him to snuggle up on the couch with you. "Your goal is to preempt your kid's understandable jealousy," says Borden.

But there's no such thing as a fail-safe plan. If your child does freak out just when you're least able to drop everything, it'll help to give words to your toddler's feelings so he knows that you understand his frustration. Simply saying "I know this is really hard for you" will go a long way. Another strategy: "Because 2-year-olds are easily distracted and love to hear about themselves, start telling a story about when he was a baby," suggests Laurie Kramer, PhD, professor of applied family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And if he wants to be swaddled or to drink from a bottle, go ahead and let him regress a little bit -- it's a phase that won't last long.

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