Ask the grumpies: Suggestions on books for the new sibling?

Reader I asks through email:

I have a question for the one of you who recently had a second baby. I have a 4yo daughter and am soon due with a second girl. Were there any books that you found helpful in preparing DC1 for what life might be like with a new baby in the family? (that are not aimed at toddlers) What did you do to prepare hir? My daughter is super excited about getting a baby sister, but obviously she has no real clue how her life is going to change.

We talked a bit about books for parents on sibling rivalry, but came up with pretty much a blank.  However, there are a lot of books aimed at kids themselves.

We went through a bunch of books on what’s going on in mommy’s belly, though you have to scan through them because many are not age appropriate. For this we just hit the children’s nonfiction section in the library, and I read through a bunch before checking them out.  Finding out more about what was going on made the process less scary, especially after I stopped throwing up so much.

Many sibling books tell kids that they’re going to be feeling jealous but mommy and daddy still love them. We avoided these books based on research about how educational television makes kids misbehave by providing examples of misbehavior.

The book we found most helpful was Dr. Sears, What Baby Needs. It’s great because it explains generally what is going on (you’ll still want more about the baby developing and stuff, most likely– we found that “what size fruit/veggie is the unborn baby” each week helped), and what big sibling can do to help.  It’s upbeat, explanatory, and not preachy.  DC1 read it over and over, and definitely liked the suggestion to cuddle with mom while she’s nursing the baby.  (Ze also liked to mention that the baby doesn’t know how to do anything at first.)

There were some other books we had on the amazon wishlist but didn’t actually get. There’s a Mr. Rogers book that looked good, but we haven’t seen it so I can’t be sure of it.  We also had some videos on the Netflix queue, but I can’t recommend the Sesame St. one and we never did end up watching the rest.

Grumpy readership, do you have any more suggestions for books for older siblings?

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6 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Suggestions on books for the new sibling?”

  1. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    There is this book about soccer players who got in a plane crash in the Andes and ate each others dead bodies to survive. I highly recommend that book for little children.

  2. Ana Says:

    OK, I spit my coffee out at Comradde’s suggestion. probably too simple for a 4 year old, but our son was 1.5ish before little bro came and loved the “waiting for baby” (really really simple for a young child about mom being pregnant and then going to have the baby) and “i’m a new big brother” (bit older, would also work for an early reader) board books. Nothing about jealousy, just things baby does, how big bro can help (feed him peas, make faces so he doesn’t cry, etc…). At 3, he still LOVES that book, and he’s tried to emulate a lot of the “helping”. I hated “little rabbit and the new babies” (harry horse) which we randomly got from the library because little rabbit got jealous and ran away saying “mama and papa don’t love me anymore” which upset my son to no end (why mommy? why don’t they love him?)

  3. Practical Parsimony Says:

    My son was only two when I had the second. You know I am old, but I don’t think a book if one existed could have prepared him. He only wanted to drag her around or either try to destroy her by “helping” me. It is a wonder she even lived to celebrate being six months old.

    When they were five- and seven-years old, I had my third and still did not read to them anything about a new sibling. My best friend, their best friends’ mother, had a baby six weeks before I did. Seeing a new baby and interacting with my friend’s four children gave them their first real look at a new baby that lasted for more than a passing glimpse.

    Before that newborn, we had talked lots about new babies–crying, diapers, spitting up, doing nothing but sleep for awhile. I found that talking about what we did each day and how the new baby could or could not do things was most helpful. There are things children need to know that are not in books. For instance, my third did not open her eyes much at all. She was content to just slit one eye if she deigned to look about at all. When she was about two weeks old, my son (7) asked when her eyes would open. He knew about kittens from his memaw’s kittens. When I explained that her eyes were open from birth, he said he had never seen her open her eyes. He was right.

    If my son had been told when he was two to eat his sister, he would have. Gee, I went a little faint when you wrote that, Physio!

    I do agree about the books, tv, and movies that say inappropriate things and model inappropriate behavior for children. Smart-mouthed kids are not funny in real life. Actually, not even when pretending are they funny.

    You do know you can ask the library to purchase a book you see that they do not carry. You will be surprised how ill-prepared you and your child will be when there is a new one. You can handle what is coming. But, they books cannot possibly prepare either of you for there being two and all that entails–like babies being born with eyes open. You will be surprised at how many steps the older child can save you by bringing things to you or taking the poopy diapers to the proper place.

    Sorry I wrote a post in the comments!

  4. calee Says:

    How to be a Baby by Me the Big Sister (by Sally Lloyd Jones) is absolutely perfect and still gets read 3 years after the baby arrived.

  5. Alyssa Says:

    Our son is 2.5 and we’re expecting another boy in October. The only book I found at the library that didn’t have the “older kid will be jealous and will do stupid/annoying things” theme was I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole. I assume there’s an I’m a Big Sister as well.

    I’ll definitely check out the Dr. Sear’s book though!


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