I have a six year old son, and in a few months, will be having another baby. Even though he is totally excited about having a new sister (when we made the announcement to him he said, “Yay, I will finally have a partner!”) I think it’s a good idea to try and prepare him for the realities of a newborn and to having another person in the family. These books are some of the most helpful ones out there. I’ve excerpted some of the reviews from Amazon.
The New Baby by Mercer Mayer (ages 4-8) In this well-loved Little Critter picture book, our funny young hero has to get used to a new baby sister. What a problem. The baby doesn’t pay attention when Little Critter reads to her. She cries when he makes silly faces. And she can’t understand the jokes he tells. It’s seems like an impossible task, but Little Critter finally figures out what you CAN do with a new baby — and becomes a very good brother.
We Have a Baby
by Cathryn Falwell (Ages 2-6) Each new facet of taking care of a baby is brought out in this charming picture book. Not only are new infants exciting, they’re also a big responsibility as Falwell gently reinforces. With an economy of text and simple illustrations, she describes bringing a baby home, involving a sibling in its care, and a happy family going through its routine. Soft pastel hues of pinks and salmons, purples and blues highlight the action. Although children may not notice or care, Falwell’s illustrations are ethnically ambiguous, and it is impossible to determine the gender of the older child.
I’m a Big Brother and I’m a Big Sister
by Joanna Cole (ages 2-6) The texts in these two books are identical, with the exception of the gender terms. Cole has successfully captured the youngsters’ voices, making it easy for readers to identify with them, whether the books are being read aloud or alone. Familiar situations, as well as positive reinforcement of individuality and importance as part of the family, are good reasons to put this book into the hands of children who will soon be older siblings.
Hello Baby! by Lizzy Rockwell (ages 2-6) From a chart on how a baby grows in utero to the end of her first day home, this book covers the entire birthing process as described by an older brother. The opening pages present information about the fetus, while the middle section shows the family getting ready and the boy and his grandmother waiting anxiously for the big moment. Rather than delve into the boys emotional responses to having a new sibling, the book objectively presents intimate images and experiences: the baby inside the womb (shown in mothers tummy and in a full-page close-up), the mother nursing her, the boy and his dad carefully sponging around the umbilical cord scab. There is comfort in the honesty and straightforward familiarity of the text, which is supported by soft colored-pencil drawings.
Waiting for Baby by Harriet Ziefert (ages 4-8) Max does everything he can think of to encourage his new sibling to be born. He talks to his mommy’s tummy, sings to it, plays his drum for it, but nothing seems to work. Max is convinced that this baby will never arrive … until the day finally comes when Daddy takes Mommy to the hospital. Harriet Ziefert has written a delightful story about the anticipation of a new arrival. Expectant parents will want to read it with their children, and soon-to-be older siblings are sure to identify with Max. Best of all, there’s a gift in the back of the book for the big brother or sister to give to the new baby: a nursery door hanger with two important messages: “Shhhh! Baby sleeping” and “Come in! Baby awake.”
What Baby Needs by William Sears (ages 5-8) The text, addressed to an older sibling, describes both the changes that the family prepares for and the ways that the baby, growing inside the mother’s uterus, might make her feel: hungry, thirsty, and tired. Older brothers and sisters are encouraged to see themselves as competent to contribute at this time. What Baby Needs is a warm look at how life in the family changes to accommodate the needs of a newborn, and the care an infant requires. Both texts are prefaced by notes for adults on what kind of information and experiences might be helpful or appropriate to share with a child.
What to Expect When the New Baby Comes Home by Heidi Murkoff (ages 3-8) Instead of being set up as a story in which a child experiences the various realities of having a new sibling, this book poses questions that are then answered in paragraph form. Queries range from “Why do new babies cry so much?” to “Can I play with the new baby?” The answers tell why babies are the way they are, how they create change in a household, and how one can interact successfully with them. The family friend, Angus the Answer Dog, acts as tour guide, providing plentiful commentary. A paw print highlights his simple suggestions for a new baby, such as practicing holding a doll or stuffed animal before holding the infant.
I’m Going to be a Big Sister and I’m Going to be a Big Brother by Brenda Bercun (ages 2-6) These books are essentially identical except for a few minor stereotypical differences such as showing the girl’s toys to include makeup whereas the boy has tools. Each one is a didactic exploration of how a household gets ready for a new baby and what it means to be the older sibling. Readers are cautioned about dangerous toys versus safe toys and are advised to always wash their hands before touching the baby’s hands and toys. The books address the logistics of who will care for the child while Mommy’s in the hospital, which in these cases is Grandma. Finally, several pages are devoted to the older sibling’s role: Being a big brother [sister] means being a teacher and an example to your sister or brother.