I have to give a disclaimer: I clearly have not gotten this right because my middle daughter still asks why we thought having a third child was a good idea. She thinks that we should have stopped while we were ahead.
I did read a lot of books and seek a lot of advice on how to get my older child (and then children) excited about the new baby. Here’s the list of advice from many, many moms I solicited. What about you, can you please share any tips and tricks that made your kids excited about the new baby? Please leave a comment! Thank you!
Best Picture Books for New Sibling
1. Read books about being a big sister or brother. Here are some of our favorites:
I’m a Big Sister, I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole
These books are sweet and put a positive spin on being a big sister or brother. I like that spin so I read these as much as my kids would tolerate! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Za-Za’s Baby Brother by Lucy Cousins
We were a little obsessed with the Maisy series so this book by same author, Lucy Cousins, was a favorite and my middle child could relate to the downside of a new baby though Za-Za but it has a nice, happy ending! I also liked how it covered what happens when mom and dad have to rush to the hospital to deliver the baby. It set up realistic expectations of what will happen and in Za-Za’s case, as was ours, grandma came to the rescue! [picture book, ages 1 and up]
A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Some kids will notice the downside of a new baby in the house like Frances with the routines slightly upset including running out of favorite food items and not having her favorite dress clean and ready for school. In the end, Frances realizes that the baby needs her because who doesn’t need an older sister to show the baby the ropes?! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Other Dog by Madeleine L’Engle, illustrated by Christine Davenier
Told by a dog’s point of view — and in fact, this is Madeleine L’Engle’s own dog — who was greatly miffed when she brought home a new “dog” from the maternity ward. It’s understandable that already having one outstanding dog in the house means that no other dogs are necessary, but the dog learns that Jo is slightly different from a dog, and learns to love this intruder as well. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Big Sister Dora! by Alison Inches
As I recall, my middle daughter was going through a huge Dora phase so this was a no-brainer. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Ready, Set … Baby! by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Qin Leng
This is a picture book version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting for siblings about to welcome a new baby into their family. Anna and Oliver, siblings extraordinaire, tell you what to expect with gentle humor and reassuring advice. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]
2. Tell family and friends both at the hospital and at home to make a big fuss over the siblings and get permission from them to see the baby. For special visitors like family who will likely be bringing a present to the new baby, ask them to bring one for each of the siblings and/or offer to pay for those gifts if this seems like an awkward request. The baby cannot be the only getting presents or attention!
3. Have the baby give a present to each older sibling when the kids first come to visit. Buy this in advance, wrap it and store it in your “hospital suitcase.” When your kids arrive, tell them that the baby is so excited to meet them and the baby has a special gift for each of them. They will wonder how on earth the baby could get them a present. That’s ok. Ask them for their theories as it will be quite a fun conversation!
4. Give the sibling a job and reward them with effusive praise for a job well done! My girls like to help diaper the baby so they were runners to fetch a new diaper and wipes. Turns out that we humans are motivated less by money than by “non-monetary recognition” in the workplace. We just want to feel appreciated for our effort and for a job well done. Kids are no different! Other tasks could be fetching the already prepared bottle, entertaining the baby with “peek-a-boo”, or telling mommy when the baby is up. As a new mom, I was exhausted so I could use all the help I could get and my kids were surprisingly helpful, at least some of the time!
5. Have a basket of special items including books and toys near where you tend to feed and hold the baby for the sibling. Rotate items frequently and add in new “surprises.” Your child can play in parallel while you are tending to the baby.
6. Notice when the baby prefers the sibling over anyone else. Talk about this a LOT!! “You are the only person that can make the baby stop crying when you make that silly face.” “The baby seems so much happier when you are around.” “Thank goodness you were here when the baby woke up because the baby likes you the best.”
7. Talk about the advantages of being older versus being a baby. Can’t eat pizza. Can’t eat ice cream. Make a list together.
8. Make transitions well in advance of the baby’s arrival such as a room switch or transitioning from a crib to a bed. My middle daughter still talks about the room switch even though she went from the nursery which is a tiny room to a much bigger room. I think we did this 6 months in advance but clearly, it wasn’t early enough!
9. Take a lot of pictures of the older kids taking care of the baby. Make sure the ratio of photos snapped is somewhat equal between the baby and the rest of the kids. Even better, take photos of the kids interacting in a positive way with the new baby. “Grandma and Grandpa MUST see this picture of you holding the baby so gently. What a great big brother/sister you are! Quick, don’t move. I need to take your picture!”
10. Teach your children how to gently touch the baby by holding his or her hand or gently patting the tummy. Don’t enforce a totally “hands off” policy.
Image from BabyCareBasics.net
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