Before Aviya was born, I put together a list of books to help prepare Ameli for the whole home birth and childbirth thing. This list has increasingly grown and grown, as I’ve found new books to add to our resources, which I now often loan out to friends about to have their second babies. Separate to the issue of the actual birth, however, is that of adding to the family, as this is something children – especially first or only children – aren’t really prepared for. While Ameli was lovely with her sister, I think it came as a bit of a shock to her when she didn’t leave when the rest of the family went back home! As such, I’ve now separated the two lists, so that there’s a great resource for those who need to help prepare siblings for the arrival of a new baby, irrespective of the manner or place of birth.
I hope you find it useful!
My New Baby is a cardboard book, definitely aimed at younger children. There aren’t many words, and it isn’t a story as such, but rather, random sentences, like “This bed is bouncy! Is the baby hungry?” or “I’m getting dressed. Is Baby clean yet?” and so on.
The book opens with mother, father, older sibling (which could pass as a boy or a girl) and baby in bed. Baby is breastfeeding and daddy is playing with the older sibling.
Later you see baby nursing again while OS eats a plate of finger foods, and on the next page, baby is in a sling while OS walks, with the words ‘I love walking. When will Baby walk like me?’ below it, so there are attachment parenting themes throughout, but it’s not alienating – baby is also carried in a bucket car seat, and cries during a nappy change before being put into a Moses Basket to sleep.
It’s a very simple book, and it doesn’t deal with the birth of the baby at all, but only with there being another baby.
The thing I liked most about the book is that because it is so simple, we can adapt the words and the story to suit our needs. We called the older sibling Ameli, and we talk about each picture. For example when the baby is nursing, we talk about how our
baby will nurse from Mama, and Ameli will have to share. She turns to me and points at my breasts saying “Baby will have milk”. So, she gets
it – (interestingly, she was amazing with tandem nursing
once her baby sister was born).
I think it can be used as quite a useful tool later on too – reminding Ameli to put her own jumper on, like the girl in the book, while Mama dresses the baby, and so on. I also like the fact that though I think it’s obviously a girl on the cover, which works in our favour, you could get away with it being a brother, I think.
I Love You, Alfie Cub is a stunningly illustrated book about a little fox cub, Alfie, whose mama has a new litter of pups – twin girls. Mama Fox explains that the twins will take up a lot of her time and need a lot of love and care. Alfie is kind of excited about having new play mates, but by the end of the first day, they haven’t even grown yet! (I so relate to this. Ameli’s first question about her sister was ‘Can it walk? – at about 2 minutes old!)
Alfie’s Mama is tired, and falls asleep without reading him stories. She doesn’t play with him as much, and she is always busy with the twins. He fears that she has run out of love for him, so he spends the day looking high and low for love. A friendly frog reminds him that he still has love, so he can share his love with his mother. Alfie has an idea and sets about making a play space for his sisters.
The last few pages of this book make my eyes well up with tears. Seriously, I get so emotional. Alfie realises that his mother loves him, and she reminds him that she will never run out of love for him.
I Love You, Alfie Cub is so incredibly beautiful, it’s one of my favourites, it’s sweet, and it lays the foundation for older siblings to say that just because Mama is a bit busy right now does not mean that she doesn’t love or has replaced them.
Part of the “Mama, Talk About” series from Toni Olson,Mama, Talk About Our New Baby is about a young boy who, with the help of his mother, learns what life will be like after his sister is born. It is beautifully illustrated, and serves as a wonderful guide for parents to help them introduce older children to the concept of a younger sibling. In comparison to many mainstream books, it provides a beautiful introduction to the attached family and helps prepare siblings for life with a new baby.
There are a lot of subtle things in this book, like the toddlers bed pushed up next to the parents’ for an authentic family bed. In the explanation of what life with a new baby will be like, there’s a lot of inclusive language, like “You can come cuddle with us and meet your sister” or “Some days we could all nap together”.
There’s a mention and image of tandem feeding, although it’s not called that, folding up reusable nappies (called diapers in the book) and both baby and toddler are rear facing in their car seats. There’s even a picture of Mama wearing the baby and big brother “wearing” his baby, and another of daddy wearing the toddler in a back carry with Mama carrying baby in a ring sling.
I think this is truly one of the most all encompassing Attachment Parenting books for new babies – perhaps the word is definitive, it’s the definitive book for introducing toddlers to the concept of a new sibling. It is an expensive book at US$18 or AUS$15, but I must admit I wish I had it before our baby was born, and I will be holding on to it and treasuring it to loan to many friends in the years to come.
It would be great if it were easily found in the UK, but I’d go so far as to say it was it’s worth importing.
This is a lovely story too, especially if the new sibling is a little older, used to being an only child, and able to talk about emotions with some understanding.
The Magic Basket opens with Amy crying on her bed because she doesn’t want to become a big sister. Her mother brings her a piece of cloth, which opens up into a blue magic basket. Amy puts her hand in the basket, and out comes a feeling – curious – who guides her through how to explore her feelings. Being curious he asks her what she was doing when her mother came in, and next thing you know, another feeling – sad – comes into play. Curious and Sad help explore her feelings of worry about why her parents want another child, and help her realise that maybe they’re not trying to replace her, but ‘add to’ her. It’s a really lovely message, actually, and the transformation that comes from realisation and understanding is very sweet.
READER SUGGESTIONS OF BOOKS TO PREPARE SIBLINGS FOR THE ARRIVAL OF A NEW BABY:
I asked my Facebook followers for their recommendations of books, since I can’t possibly buy them all. Here’s what they recommended:
- There’s house inside my mummy – Giles Andreae “A gentle and tender story of a little boy waiting for his new brother or sister to arrive. Told with humour and a simple rhyming text, this is the perfect picture book for all expectant brothers and sisters.”
- Will There be a Lap for Me? – Dorothy Corey “Kyle misses his time on Mother’s lap while she is pregnant but is happy when the birth of his baby brother makes her lap available again”
- The New Baby (Usborne First Experiences) – This book is designed to introduce young children to unfamiliar situations in an amusing and friendly way. It features Stephen Cartwright’s delightful illustrations, providing lots to look at and talk about. It provides an ideal starting point for young children and adults to discuss first experiences.
What’s Inside Your Tummy, Mummy? – Abby Cocovini
– This book looks amazing. It’s the perfect book for introducing a young child to to the concept of where babies come from and how they grow. This is a great book to share and discuss all the changes going on inside ‘mummy’s tummy’.
Every month a new picture shows how big baby is and how far along a timeline (featured at the foot of each spread) baby has moved. The real attractiion of the book is the ‘life-size’ nature of the drawings, giving mother and child a fantastic opportunity to really explore what is happening, how big baby is in context to everyday objects and what baby can hear or indeed eats!
- What’s in Your Tummy Mummy? by Sam Lloyd – There’s something inside Mummy’s tummy. I don’t know what it could be. Perhaps it’s a buzzing flea or a chimpanzee? It’s getting bigger every day and Mummy won’t tell me. But you can lift the flaps to see! A wonderful and fun story for young children about a new addition to the family from much-loved author and illustrator Sam Lloyd.