child holding baby

Best Books for Kids that Introduce New Baby to Siblings

Now 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 SisterI’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]

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 ackward request. The baby can not 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 work place. 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.

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To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Fiona Cooper (@nlpmum)

    Great post. It’s the easiest thing in the world to forget all of this in the excitement of a new baby arriving and where this is not handled well it can lead to such resentment (I think my 43 yr old sister still resents by brothers arrival 40 years ago!). It’s also easy to remember to do all this when child 2 arrives and then forget for child three – my theory is that this is part of the reason why middle children sometimes have a rough ride. The basics of it is to make sure older children have a positive experience. It’s the basis of them becoming good friends later on too. F

    • To Fiona,
      Thank you so much! I did pretty much the whole list for my middle child when the new baby came, but she still doesn’t like him much nine years later. Here’s hoping that changes before she turns 43!!

  2. I’d like to share a ‘mistake’ I made. When my son was born, we bought a present for my 3 year old daughter from the baby. My loved (and still loves) dolls, but the doll we chose was quite a grown-up looking doll, with lots of clothes. We would have been much better buying a baby doll, as then she could have pretended to have her own baby.

    Also, it is important to talk about what new born babies are like and let them help you get ready. It broke my heart to have my daughter come see me and my son in hospital and say ‘I’m going to help give him his bottle and feed him his baby food.’ It was so thoughtful of her (and based on her experience at her child minders of how you looked after babies). I had to explain that I was going to be breastfeeding (so no bottle feeds) and that her little brother wouldn’t be eating solid foods for several months. I realised too late that I should have talked about breast feeding and what babies can and can’t do when they are born.

    • To Priscilla,
      You bring up such great points. I love the idea of a baby doll from the baby to the older sibling and the older sibling doesn’t necessarily have to be a girl! And your point about breastfeeding is well taken though I don’t know any
      “new baby” picture books that cover that topic. There should be one out there somewhere though!!! Does anyone know of any?

  3. Kim

    We have really enjoyed the books “What a Good Big Brother” and “Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee” (I’m part Korean, but it would still be appropriate for families that are not Korean). We also loved a book I think it was called “Waiting for Baby” about a boy named Max who is anxiously waiting for his baby brother or sister to be born. The front inside cover show the waiting through the seasons and the back inside cover show the next year’s activities with the new baby, so there is a lot to talk about.

    I also really liked the old Mr. Rogers book on “New Baby in the House” or something like that – it talks about how all the attention the new baby is getting “can make a person grumpy” and how there are acceptable ways to express the “grumpiness”. But my son didn’t really take to that book.

    My son just got a “baby” doll for his birthday and we already have a present for the baby to give him when he is born. Hopefully all will go well!


  4. These are awesome tips! I especially love your idea of asking friends and family to make a big fuss over the siblings.
    maryanne recently posted…Favorite Jan Brett Stories and ActivitiesMy Profile

    • Hi Maryanne,
      Thanks! I have to say that the 3rd baby is still resented by my middle child despite all the prep work we did! I found the books help prepare the older siblings for what to expect and we loved the Lucy Cousin’s one so much — ZaZa because it did show the older sibling’s feelings of being left out which is how they can feel from time to time and let’s them explore negative feelings in a safe way. Glad you liked the list! I was inspired after meeting a first time expectant mom at our local deli who asked for advice.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Kickboxing: My Best Post of 2012My Profile

  5. I like these tips. We didn’t do the present thing – we took a “you get your turn and your sister gets hers” line and it went over very well – as an older sibling myself remembering back, I think the presents can come off as being a bit “trying to buy off your tolerance” and I preferred to push on the “older sibling has an important job” angle. Even two year olds love to feel useful. (Also, we were about to move house.)

    Can I add one book? Our favourite was Guess The Baby (Simon French/Dawn Rawlins) which is about a child who brings his baby brother to class for show and tell. The teacher helps the whole class learn about babies, but the genius bit is the emphasis on how we were all babies once and all did babyish things – then we grew up. This really seemed to resonate with our eldest. Especially, I guess, given our sibling present policy 🙂 .
    Bronwyn Joy recently posted…Bringing Your Pet To Singapore: What Your Vet Wishes You KnewMy Profile

    • Hi Bronwyn,
      Thanks so much for your great book recommendation! I’ll have to get my hands on Guess the Baby! Love the premise of the story.

      I guess my kids are easily bribable LOL! My middle one still is LOL! But I agree with you that giving siblings an important job is the better way to go!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble Blog TourMy Profile

      • Different strokes. Gifts never were my love language, so to speak.

        Definitely a book worth reading. I think then when we were fussing over the baby eldest was thinking, “Oh, now I get to see what it was like when I was a baby.” Took the conflict right out.

        Now when it comes to rivalry in older siblings…
        Bronwyn Joy recently posted…I May Have Overshot A LittleMy Profile

        • Hi Browwyn,
          Ah … rivalry in older siblings. My three kids are so very different that they are less competing in what they do but for attention in general. Glad your kids were great with the new sibling. LOL, my middle STILL asks why we decided to have a third. She thinks that was a very bad idea! She’s also the one that needs the most attention. Could be a middle child thing or just her personality!
          Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Japanese Heroes Picture Book of the Day and GIVEAWAYMy Profile

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