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 the 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]
Love and the Rocking Chair by Leo & Diane Dillon
Love is expressed many ways. Here, a rocking chair is an important part of making memories in this multi-generational story. This is the final collaboration of a highly acclaimed husband and wife team who bought a rocking chair of their own when they were expecting their first child. The soothing illustrations depict a mixed-race family and are a beautiful study in color and form. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Babymoon by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Medina
While there are no siblings in this book, this is a wonderful story to celebrate the wonder and emotion of a new baby. It’s the perfect gift to new parents, but also a way to recount the birth of siblings who are now expecting a new baby in the house. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Long Ago, on a Silent Night by Julie Berry, illustrated by Annie Won
This nativity story expands to the message that all children are a celebration of hope, joy, love, and promise. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Welcome to the World by Helen Foster James, illustrated by Petra Brown
This keepsake edition includes a special page in the front for the baby’s photo. This is a loving ode to a baby’s first year. Read with kids expecting a new sibling and talk about what they were like as babies! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Baby Clown by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Boffo and Frieda Clown have a baby but Baby Clown won’t stop crying. Clowns do not wear frowns! What will happen during the big show? Will Baby Clown stop crying? Will Baby Clown ruin the show? [picture book, ages 3 and up]
My Brother The Duck by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
This is a new baby book that combines the scientific method in a delightful and funny take on sibling relationships. Stella thinks that her new baby brother might be a duck so she uses her observation skills to test her hypothesis. If he turns out to be a duck, she will still be the best sister ever! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
You Are New by Lucy Knisley
This isn’t necessarily a picture book about getting a new sibling, but the illustrations are lovely and the rhyming story can be read as if an older sibling is teaching the new baby about what is to come. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
You and Me, Me and You Brothers by Miguel Tanco
The pluses and minuses of having a brother are very well detailed in this realistic but funny picture book that makes you realize how lucky one is to have a brother after all! [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]
I’m a Big Sister Now by Katura J. Hudson, illustrated by Sylvia L. Walker
A loving big sister eagerly awaits the arrival of the new baby. Even though it can be hard work at times, she is the consummate helper. This is a great diversity option to model how to be a big sister or brother. [picture book, ages 2 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]
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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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.