When we found out we were expecting our second child, we wanted to include our then-2-year-old in the excitement. Of course, we didn’t want to overwhelm her, but we did want her to understand what being a big sister was all about, and to help get her used to the idea before we just waltzed in the door with a newborn.
Being a bookworm myself, I thought the obvious best way to get her into the idea of having a little brother or sister would be to read a lot of books. Oddly enough, although I did quite a bit of searching, I couldn’t find a good, comprehensive list of books for siblings-to-be about the changes that awaited them. So, naturally, we undertook our own independent research, and, a few months later, I’m happy to share with you my list of the best books for siblings-to-be.
I will caution — speaking from experience here — that you should proceed slowly, know your child, and try not to overwhelm them with too much too fast. There are a lot of big feelings involved with changes in your family, even if they are changes everyone is, at bottom, excited about. So, my humble advice is to choose a few favorites on your own and see which work for your family. If nothing sticks the first go-round, try a few more. You’re bound to find something that resonates in the process.
Read on for some of our favorites, and a list of some more that just might be the perfect fit for your growing family.
Hello Baby! by Lizzy Rockwell.
This book has quickly become a family favorite. I love it because it takes you from pregnancy (with a cute, accurate but age-appropriate description of where baby is growing and what’s going on in Mommy’s belly), to getting the baby’s room ready, through birth and when the baby comes home. It also addresses breastfeeding in a matter-of-fact, appropriate way, which seems to be a shortcoming of a lot of books in this genre, so bonus points for that!
One Special Day by Lola M. Schaefer
This is another of our favorites, and one that we’ve read ad nauseum without getting tired of it. It was originally a library find, but Nora became so attached to it that we bought our own copy. Unlike most of the other books in this list, it doesn’t go much into the nitty-gritty about pregnancy or having a new baby in the house. Instead, it focuses on Spencer, the big brother-to-be, and what’s so cool about him — he’s fast and strong and loud — and how having a sibling makes him something he never was before — gentle. It’s done sweetly enough to make a pregnant lady tear up time after time (ahem, speaking from personal experience), and the illustrations, which go beyond the written text, give you a jumping-off point for more conversations with your child about what will happen when it’s time for the baby to come, and what life will be like as an expanded family.
Baby on the Way by William Sears, Martha Sears and Christie Watts Kelly
Replete with age-appropriate information about pregnancy, birth and new babies, this book has also been a favorite of ours. It includes boxes on some pages with “What You Can Do” — tips for siblings-to-be — and “Answers for the Very Curious” — to help parents in addressing those really tough questions, should they arise.
The New Baby at Your House by Joanna Cole
This book does the hands-down best job of exploring all the complicated emotions involved in becoming a big sibling. We’ve read it over and over, and Nora still can’t get enough of it. It’s filled with photographs of real families, not just illustrations — perfect for little ones who are interested in babies.
Others We’ve Enjoyed
On Mother’s Lap by Ann Herbert Scott
This book tells the story of a little boy contentedly rocking on his mama’s lap — but will there be room for his baby sister, too? The answer, sweetly, is yes — there’s always room on mother’s lap. This is a great book for addressing feelings about being pushed aside by a new sibling.
The New Baby by Mercer Mayer
If you can get past the creepy Little Critter illustrations (I know they’re beloved in some circles, but they’re just not my thing), this is a good book to help prepare your little one for a new addition to the household. It takes you through a big brother’s frustration with a new baby who doesn’t do much of anything — she isn’t interested in his cool toys or the silly faces he makes at her — to a better understanding of what he can do with a new baby, along with a little reassurance of his still-important place in the family.
My Mom’s Having a Baby by Dori Hillestad Butler
A month-by-month guide to mom’s pregnancy takes you and your little one through what’s happening with mom’s body, up to birth. Be aware that it gets pretty detailed at points — including discussing the actual mechanics of conception — but I imagine it would be good for a little bit older kids (it is targeted at the kindergarten to 4th grade set). As for us… we just skipped over that particular page, since those are not questions my almost-3-year-old has at the moment.
Big Brother/Big Sister Now: A Story About Me and Our New Baby by Annette Sheldon
A new big sister (or brother, depending on which version you get) adjusts from being the baby to being a big sibling. Before, being “the baby” felt “warm and safe and lovey,” but our protagonist discovers soon enough that there are lots of cool things big kids can do that babies can’t. Eventually, being a big sister or brother feels “warm and safe and lovey,” too.
More to Check Out
I’m Going to Be a Big Sister by Brenda Bercun
The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby by Stan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears And Baby Makes Five by Stan Berenstain
I’m a Big Brother/Big Sister by Joanna Cole
Room for the Baby by Michelle Edwards
We Have a Baby by Cathryn Falwell
Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller
My New Baby by Rachel Fuller
Look at Me! by Rachel Fuller
You and Me by Rachel Fuller
I’m a New Big Sister/Big Brother by Nora Gaydos
Best-Ever Big Sister by Karen Katz
Big Sisters Are the Best by Fran Manushkin
Baby, Come Out! by Fran Manushkin
The New Baby by Fred Rogers
Now We Have a Baby by Lois Rock
What Baby Needs by William Sears, Martha Sears and Christie Watts Kelly
Lauren Walz is a freelance writer and editor and mama to a two-year-old girl. While she’s quick to brag about being a fifth-generation Texan, Lauren moved to Northern California in 2004 after graduating from UT Law and lived in the Silicon Valley area until last spring, when she and her family were drawn back to Austin. Lauren is busy getting re-acquainted with her old stomping grounds and is astonished by how the food and wine scene has changed in Austin in the past 8 years. Lauren also blogs about cooking and parenthood on gourmetveggiemama.com.
I LOVE these! What a great list! Beyond books, a great way to see your child in real and connected action with younger children is a Music Together class. I really benefited from the opportunity to see my older child engaging in musical play with infants & toddlers before his lil bro arrived. I gained a lot of insight from doing the class and seeing my older son acting/reacting/playing with the babies in class, knowing that younger siblings are a part of many families provided a level of comfort for us both. I also made friends sharing my same concerns about the transition. There are Music Together classes all around town at TuneBugz! Music Together, Heartsong Music and Armstrong Community Music School that are wonderful mixed-age experiences that can provide support for transitioning to a new family dynamic. Great topic that is close to home for me!