We are expecting our second child in November and couldn’t be more thrilled!!
And a little terrified, let’s be honest.
I am blessed, honored and grateful to have this little life inside of me. But bringing another person into the fold will be a major adjustment for us all, perhaps for my 2-year-old more than anyone else.
In addition to speaking to her about all things Baby, we’ve also been reading her story books about becoming an older sister and I think it’s been truly beneficial. I’ve probably read about 40 of these types of books for children over the past 7 months, which is a significant amount…BUT there are probably at least 100 on the topic, so I can’t say I’ve read them ALL. But from the books I have read, I’ve narrowed it down to my Top 5 listed for you here. If you’re an expectant mom with siblings-to-be, I hope this list will save you a little bit of time in your quest to find the perfect book(s) to prepare your other children for the new arrival:
1. I’m a Big Sister/I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole. Generally appropriate for ages 1 through 6, depending on the child.
The story is told from the point of view of the older sibling, and it begins when the baby has newly arrived at home. It discusses types of things the baby can and can’t do just yet, and highlights the things the big brother or sister can do, both to help with the baby and also the fun of being a”big kid.” (i.e., eat ice cream, walk, talk, play). Includes tips for parents in the back.
Why I love it: This little book is cute, simple and sweet. And totally quotable – my toddler spouts off lines from the story randomly during the day, even when we’re not reading it. It’s relatable to her because it’s told from the point of view of the sibling, and I think it helps her understand how things will be for her in the simplest of terms. I love that the tone is reassuring that the sibling is just as special as ever and so loved by her parents.
Note: this particular model of storyline seems to be very popular, as I have come across A LOT of books that are very similar in flow. So if you can’t find this one, check out this one, this one or this one. (All have brother or sister versions).
2. Baby on the Way by Dr. Bill Sears, Martha Sears and Christie Watts Kelly. Generally appropriate for ages 3 through 10, depending on the child.
Written by world-renowned pediatrician, author and leading proponent of the attachment-parenting method Dr. Sears with wife Martha Sears, a nurse, lactation consultant and childbirth educator. The book takes the reader through the entire birth journey – pregnancy through delivery. The family portrayed is a family a five (two siblings, a boy and girl), so a nice bonus if this is your third, fourth, etc. Discusses how mommy is feeling during pregnancy in relatable examples for kids – for example, sometimes mommy gets very tired and needs to rest, like how you get tired after playing outside all day (paraphrasing here). Describes how mommy will feel when it is almost time to deliver the baby – her belly will get very tight and she will need to take deep breaths. Upbeat in tone, yet factual and informative. Note: words like “uterus” and “contractions” are used, which I personally think are fine, but if you are uncomfortable with these terms around your little one, do take note. To go the other way, there are sections for “the curious reader” where anatomy is discussed should your child have additional questions…but it is in another area of the book, so it’s easy to skip over should you choose.
There is a second book entitled What Baby Needs, which discusses life for the same family after baby. I have not read this book, but we have enjoyed the first book so much that I plan to add it to our collection soon.
Why I love it: It gives some insight into what mommy is going through during pregnancy, which I think is great for kids to understand, especially those are who a little older and those who may be frustrated with the change in pace due to mommy’s current state. Throughout the book are sections, “What You Can Do,” that give suggestions for activity for the siblings-to-be based on what is being discussed. Just one example, “Babies need to wear diapers instead of going to the potty. Can you change a diaper on a baby doll?” I like the overall factual tone, which is good for older kids, yet it is still simple enough for littles to grasp (the book absolutely keeps my toddler’s attention).
3. Maple by Lori Nicols. Generally appropriate for ages 3 and up, depending on the child.
This is the enchanting story of Maple, a free-spirited little girl who embraces trees, the changing seasons and her new little sister. When Maple was but a “whisper,” her parents planted a maple tree in her honor, and the tree and girl grow up together. Pretty soon a new little tree appears and so does a bump within her mother’s belly. This award-winning book is not your run-of-the-mill “older sibling” plot line, rather that aspect is woven into the story ever so beautifully and displays the love that siblings can have for each other from the start.
Why I love it: A family member recommended this book for my daughter when we got pregnant with Baby #2, and I’m so happy she did because I wouldn’t have come across it otherwise. Plus my little flower child loves trees, so she certainly enjoys that aspect of the story. It is beautifully illustrated, subtle and precious. If you’re looking for a unique story about siblingdom, this is a great one to have.
There are two proceeding books in the series entitled Maple and Willow Together and Maple and Willow Apart, which are stories of the sisters’ adventures as they grow up together.
4. Hannah is a Big Sister by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. Generally appropriate for ages 2 through 5, depending on the child. There is no “big brother” version, but the story can be enjoyed by both genders.
Told from the point of view of adorable little Hannah, who looks to be between 3-4 years of age. She goes through a range of emotions while waiting for the baby to come home and over the course of the next few months, from joy to excitement to jealousy, asking a lot of questions along the way.
Why I love it: We recently went to the bookstore for further research for this post, and out of all the books we read, my daughter picked this one to take home. While it is similar in tone that of I’m a Big Sister and the like, I love how it goes into some of the frustrations of having a new baby around and how things aren’t always peachy, which of course is the reality of the situation and it doesn’t hurt to be a little prepared. Some direct quotes are, “When will being a big sister be fun?” and “I don’t like when Mommy tells me, ‘Be patient.'” Of course, it ends on a very positive and sweet note.
5. Hello Baby! by Lizzy Rockwell. Generally appropriate for ages 4 through 11, depending on the child. There is no “big sister” version, but the story can be enjoyed by both genders.
Told from the point-of-view of a preschool-aged boy, beginning with going to an obstetrician appointment with his mom where he listens to the baby’s heartbeat, to the arrival of the new baby at home where he and his new sister snuggle together. Note: although the focus of the story is about a new person in the family, there is some detailed factual information, such as a gestational chart through 32 weeks and the mention of sperm and egg with illustrations. Because of these details, you may decide this one is best for older siblings.
Why I love it: The tone is different from the other books listed, in that the story is displayed fairly objectively without much emotion, but still from the point of view of the child. I like how it shows practical things like the boy going to the doctor with his mother, the grandmother coming to watch the boy while his parents are away, the mother breastfeeding the newborn at home, and the boy helping to clean the umbilical cord scab with his father. I really like the gestational chart; it gives kids a little insight into how the baby is growing in momma’s belly. You’ll have to use your own discretion though; depending on your individual child, it may open up a discussion you may or may not be ready to have!
Like eating a balanced diet with lots of variety, I recommend having at least 3 of these types of books on hand for your siblings-to-be to enjoy – ranging from the factual to to the reassuring to the warm fuzzies. Congratulations on your growing family!