My first daughter was 13 months old when my husband and I learned that we were expecting,. Along with feelings of joy and happiness, we were nervous wrecks. Among our nightly questions to the ceiling in our bedroom were: “How are we going to make this work?” “What if she (our first daughter) resents us?”
Given our first daughter’s age, we knew that explaining that a baby was living in my ever-growing stomach wouldn’t do much, so instead, this time, we listened to the “experts” and began reading to her about the process of becoming a new sibling.
In the course of nine months of pregnancy and beyond, I must have hundreds of books on new sibling relationships to my toddler. Okay, maybe hundreds is an overstatement. But I did read a lot of books, enough books to know that there are some true winners and true duds out there.
I will spare you with my list of duds. Instead, I’ll just share my top seven winners:
1. The New Baby series by Rachel Fuller. There are four books in this series: Waiting for Baby, My New Baby, You and Me Baby, and Look at Me (New Baby).
These books cover it all, from mom’s pregnancy to life with an infant. What I like: These books features easy text, simple drawings, multiracial families, and gender-neutral main characters.
This book not only teach children what to expect with a new baby, but it also gives parents a way to talk to their children about complex things like labor and delivery. What I like: This books tackles confusing concepts and makes them understandable for younger audiences. When reading the sister version of this book, even now, I’m sure my daughter doesn’t get half of what’s being talked about, but she likes the story and the pictures.
3. I’m a Big Sister/I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole.
These books feature the stories of toddlers who’ve just become older siblings (i.e., baby just brought home from hospital). What I like: Along with explaining some of the unique things that babies do (i.e., feeding from a bottle, crying when wet) that are different from toddlers, these books do much to emphasize how fun and special they (toddlers) are as the bigger sibling.
This book tells the story of a little critter who desperately tries to connect with his new sibling through doing the things he typically does with others, i.e., tell jokes, read stories, etc. In the end, he figures out what he can do to connect and becomes a big brother. What I like: The story of a toddler having trouble with trying to interact with a baby for the first time is funny but also one that any toddler can readily understand.
These are lift the flap books that tell the story of an older sibling who must learn to adjust to a new baby. What I like: These books aren’t big on text, but they are big on bold illustrations. This is great for younger toddlers.
6. We Have a Baby by Catheryn Falwell. This is a wonderful story of how a family (including older siblings) can love and care for that new baby. What I like: It’s easy read and perfect for one-on-one storytimes with a younger toddler.
7. Hello Baby by Lizzy Rockwell. This is a great book that covers everything, from baby care to OB visits, that an older sibling would want or need to know about new siblings. What I like: This is a book that will work with a number of age groups given its great pictures and slightly more sophisticated text.