Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings

A friend asked me a few days ago for recommendations on books for children about being an older brother or sister. It made me realise that while I’d shared books for dealing with a new baby, I hadn’t ever shared a list of books for helping an older child deal with a younger sibling – both in terms of suddenly having to share the love and space, but also in helping them realise that feelings of jealousy and anger are normal, and to equip them in how to deal with those feelings. I hope these books on siblings help your little ones accept their little brothers and sisters.

Some of these we own, some I’m going by the reviews of other readers, but here’s a list of books that can help you.

(*These are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through these links it won’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll be helping to support my work and my family, so thank you for that.)

Books that reinforce love for the older sibling:

Capture“Three sibling bears start to worry that they can’t ALL be “the most wonderful baby bears in the whole wide world” as they are regularly told by Mummy and Daddy Bear. As each singles out a personal feature that might mean they are less loved than their siblings, Mummy and Daddy are able to reassure them all, jointly and individually, with “a good answer”. The watercolour illustrations depict gentle, loving bear-family scenes alongside the story.”

The reviews on this story are enough to make me want to buy it. Everyone says that it’s beautiful, that it teaches a valuable lesson and that it’s a favourite.

downloadI 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.

Capture“A little fox is in a big bad mood, and is worried that its mother won’t love it forever. In this beautiful and lyrical picture book, we see a clever and resourceful mother prove to her child that a parents love is limitless – no matter what! In this reassuring and warm picture book, the hugely talented Debi Gliori manages to treat the familiar subject of childhood worries in a very fresh, original and inventive way.”

The story gets rave reviews from everyone who needs reassurance that their parents still love them. This is one of those rhyming stories, gentle and soothing. It reinforces that nothing can take our love away.

CaptureJust Like You Did starts as Tom is just about to have a new baby brother or sister arrive.  Although the new arrival turns out to be a baby boy, Tom isn’t happy, because all the family and friend spend a lot of time looking at the new baby and Tom feels left out.

Tom eventually snaps angrily, but when his parents sit him down and show him pictures of what he was like when he was a baby, and explain that the baby will soon start to grow up and things won’t be difficult for ever, Tom’s happiness is restored.

Just Like You Did is suitable for siblings 2+

Books that address the sibling relationship

Capture“This book may help to explore disgruntled feelings between an older and a younger baby sibling who at about 6 months is starting to want to play with their toys and things. It is hard to share everything and resentment can build up inside.”

In this story the older sister gets upset with her little brother getting everything sticky and soggy. She starts doing things to get him messy and in trouble, but there’s a happy ending, with them all cuddled up and cozy together. One of the criticisms of the book, however, is that there isn’t much about sharing, so much as accepting a baby brother – not a bad result really.

CaptureThe ‘big sister’ in this story thinks everything about being a big sister is unfair. As the ‘big girl’, she is expected to play independently, tidily and quietly, to which her response is, “it’s not fair!”. Over the course of the story she begins to realise the advantages of being the older sibling as she’s able to do things the baby can’t.

When the baby grows and learns to talk, he sees all the things his sister can do and he in turn thinks it’s not fair.

I’m not sure about the basic concepts of ‘two unfairs making a fair’ really, but I think this story can have a place at the right time. What it does do,  however, is open up a dialogue to discussing frustration and jealousy, while leading to an eventual bond between the brother and sister.

CaptureAnother book I would buy simply based on the reviews. Many readers comment on how it is clear and direct, and great especially for children on the Autism spectrum. It is of course also good for children who are dealing with a new sibling and having to become accustomed to sharing their parents.

“I Feel Jealous explores the emotion of jealousy from the point of view of a young child. It reassures the reader that jealousy, including being envious of siblings, is quite normal and that talking to someone about feelings helps.”

Ever So Ever So* – Kes Gray

CaptureAccording to reviews on this book, it will help children who are feeling ‘disgruntled’ about having a younger sibling.

In this story, “mum and dad think that every little squeek and snuffle baby Susan makes is “ever so ever so clever.” Baby Susan hiccups and mums says she is “ever so sweet.” Baby Susan blinks and dad says she is “ever so alert.” ”

This story explores the frustrations an older sibling could feel when a tiny little baby comes home and seems to be get all the attention. It also deals with regression of the older child – big sister Susan copies things the baby does ‘cutely’, but she gets into trouble for.

On the final pages, Susan has an injection from the nurse and cries inconsolably. She is only comforted when her older sister cuddles and kisses and rocks her until she falls asleep, to which her family remark that she is ever such a brave, grown up and good older sister.

Ever So Ever So is told from the older sister’s point of view. It provides a good opportunity to discus jealousy and anger and being left out. One reviewer mentions dad’s involvement with baby in this book, which is great too. This book seems suitable for older siblings ages about 3 – 7.

CaptureTold by a big sister, My Little Brother is about how she finds her little brother a bother and wishes him away. One night he disappears from his crib (into the laundry cupboard with the cat) and she realises that she wouldn’t want to be without him.

 

Readers of this story have said that it showed them the positives of having a younger brother far out weighed the negatives.

Capture“Someone new is at our house,” begins this loving, reassuring look at brotherhood. Told through the eyes of a new older brother, this simple story lays out all the good things about being an older sibling, and reminds new brothers that they are just as special as ever.

One of the comments on this book is that it shows a bottle feeding baby. Not a big deal to most, but just something to be aware of if you prefer pro-breastfeeding books.

This book is more aimed at brothers with baby siblings, but there’s a Big Sister* version too.

CaptureA nice brother to brother book, this story is a little different, with Little Brother Kenny adoring his older brother, even though Jack always falsely accuses him. Kenny’s first word is “Jack” which ‘brings an abrupt end to his brother’s reign’.

Readers call this an ‘endearing story’ that demonstrates the special relationship that can exist between two brothers.

Capture“Squashed in the middle, invisible in the middle, Martha thinks nobody really notices her … so she runs away to the bottom of the garden. Here she meets Frog who, by showing her round the garden, persuades her that the middle really is the very best place to be.”

Particularly good if your middle child is called Martha, but all middle children can relate to the subtle message as Martha sometimes longs to be the oldest, and sometimes the baby. Martha in the Middle is highly regarded by people with middle children.

Hold That Thought, Milton! – While not technically fitting into this category, I’d like to make special mention of Hold That Thought, Milton! It’s a book about a little boy desperate to tell someone he’s lost something special to him, but everyone is too busy getting ready for his big brother’s wedding, so they all tell him to ‘hold that thought’, until he eventually explodes green slime all over the wedding party. I worked out a code word with my little girl that when she was feeling unheard or unlistened to she could use that word to make me stop and pay attention. We also worked out a list of people she could go to if we weren’t approachable. It hurts my heart to think that this could happen, but life sometimes does.

Books about siblings*I haven’t read all these books about siblings, but the above is written from feedback from Amazon and Little Parachutes.

My Baby’s Voice

I’m guest posting over on Zulily UK today.

We all know that babies cry, and that they cry to tell us that they’re sad, hungry, thirsty, tired, overstimulated, cold, hot, and just about everything else. It’s one of the first things you learn as a new mum – distinguishing those cries and knowing which one means what. It’s also one of the first victories of motherhood: hearing a cry, responding to it appropriately and seeing your baby settle, smile or relax. It’s wonderful.

read more…

*For the record, I love Zulily, and I’ve loved every thing we’ve received from Zulily through purchases, credits or for review. Yes, I have a business arrangement with Zulily, but rest assured, I wouldn’t if I didn’t love them! If you join Zulily from my link, I’ll receive £10 if you make your first purchase.

The Changing Face Of A Mother’s Love

Before I open myself up to a huge can of whip-ass, I want to make something very, very clear: I adore my children, and my love for them is limitless, boundless and unconditional. Don’t for a moment think there’s anything in the post that follows that contradicts that, because there isn’t.

Will I love my second child as much as my first?

How can I feel what I feel for my oldest for another child?

How is it possible that my heart can stretch to fill with the same love for my new baby?

I know I’m not the only mother that has wrestled with these questions while feeling new life grow in my womb, and I know that I’m not the only one who, with the benefit of hindsight and an overwhelming love for my new addition, can now say, “It just does.”

I am obviously only almost five months into loving two children, so perhaps I’m not an expert, but I have come to realise many things about a mother’s heart, and motherly love in the last 20-something weeks.

I lay in the birthpool with Ameli swimming about, and between contractions cuddled her. I gave her a hug and began to cry as I said good bye to my only child. I knew that there was something special there that was about to end – I just didn’t know how. In the weeks that followed, a number of things changed.

For a start, my baby girl suddenly seemed huge. The fact that at two and a half she wasn’t potty trained yet irritated me, and her nappies were gross. She continued to nurse around sleep times and suddenly her face and body in my lap felt morosely big.

Of course, she didn’t change at all, overnight, but the addition of a newer, smaller baby suddenly changed my gorgeous oldest girl in my eyes. I tried to keep to our routines as much as possible so that she wouldn’t feel the difference in my perception of her, and I think that worked well.

As the weeks have gone on, I’ve readjusted and grown ‘used’ to her again, and now I no longer see her as a huge, oversized baby – she’s just my little girl again.

But my love for her has changed.

For months now, I’ve felt guilty about the fact that my feelings towards her have changed, and I’ve felt like I didn’t want to love Aviya too much, because I didn’t want to take away from my love for Ameli. But, the love for Aviya has come in overwhelming, breath catching waves, and I cannot imagine my life without or before her.

It’s taken me some time, but I finally realise that everything is as it’s meant to be.

Loving Aviya with my whole being has somehow not taken love away from Ameli, all it’s done is balance out the love for Ameli.

What do I mean?

Well, I realise now that my overwhelming, all consuming, life-changing, passionate, almost obsessive love for Ameli, which burned like a fire within me, and physically hurt at the thought of anything happening to her, or of her going to nursery without me, or would cause my heart to palpitate when she was getting into the car with her daddy was probably not good for her long term.

Naomi Stadlen writes in “How Mothers Love” that this kind of love is a huge burden for a child to bare. When a mother’s life is completely wrapped up in her child, it places a lot of responsibility on the child to be something, or do something or turn out a specific way in order to almost validate the mother’s existence. This made a lot of sense to me.

The 29 months I had with just Ameli were passionate, in the way only a mother who has brought life into the world and been swept up by the unconditionality of that love, the all-consuming wholeness of it, can understand passion. But with the arrival of a second love, it is as if the passion is balanced out, so that the love can thrive, and the children can grow. Sometimes I look at Ameli and I miss that burning in my heart, and other times it comes over me – for both girls – and I can smile and thank God for my beautiful children, and realise that when it’s all working well, nature is so very smart, because such a gripping love cannot be sustained long term, and in fact, the balanced love is so much better, so much less exhausting and so much more fulfilling.

A mother’s love does stretch. It does grow for each child – as Naomi Stadlen says, the empty womb fills with love. I am grateful that I no longer feel guilt for loving one child, or loving the other too much. My girls take my breath away, and my hope is that rather than drowning them in expectation or a need to give some back, my love for them will make them soar out into the world confident in what, and in who, they are.

Things My Baby Taught Me About Me

Dear Ameli,

I know I don’t often write you letters on random days of the month, but usually gather up all the little things I want to say to you into your monthly letter. Today is different though, because today, I don’t want to tell you about you. I want, instead, to tell you about me.

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Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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The things I have learned about me are more than I ever knew possible.

I have learned that there are some things that you can never know until you have experienced them. Holding your first born is one of them.

I have learned that there is an unused, previously unknown portion of your heart that suddenly comes alive once there is this kind of love to fill it. I never missed it before you were born, because I didn’t know that it was there.

I have learned that I actually do possess perseverance skills. Laughable as it sounds now, I was dreadfully worried that I’d become bored of being a mother. Sure, I’m only about 1/18th through the influential part of motherhood, but still: so far, so good.

I have learned that I am exceptionally capable. Things that may have seemed daunting two years ago are now common place. Like surviving on day after day of broken sleep. Of having quiet ‘me-times’ be far and few between, and yet finding new ways of achieving inner peace and quiet. Of utilising and maximising the shortest times to the greatest effect.

I have learned that my mind is inquisitive – something I have always known, yet now I have the time to explore things – like how breast milk is made, ingredients in commonly accepted child medications and so on. I have the time to discover and the intelligence to understand.

I have learned that I am fiercely passionate. Which amuses me, because the things I am passionate about are things I never knew existed just a few years ago. I don’t do anything because I think it looks good. I do it because I believe that it is.

I have learned that I am worthy. I am worthy to be loved, just as I love. I am worthy of being respected, just as I respect you. I am allowed, no, required to care for myself, so that I can care for you.

I have learned that I can look in the mirror and not despise what I see – not because it is beautiful, but because I do not want you to mimic self-loathing. I have learned that I will love myself, and accept myself as I am, so that you will do the same for yourself.

And I guess the most important thing that I have learned, that you have taught me, is that I am strong. Cliché as that may sound, there have been days when I’ve not wanted to get out of bed. Yet I get up, and I carry on, and I do the best I can on those days. Even when I feel my tank is empty. Those days I realise that I am strong.

As much as some people like jumping up and down with statements of being ‘sick to death’ of those in the “natural birth camp” or “the breastfeeding camp” or “the natural parenting camp” for making them feel inadequate, I cannot help, nor apologise, for what you have taught me. And I am proud.

That I can endure 48 hours of labour with focus and willpower to birth a child – just as a marathon runner or mountain climber feels pride – so do I. That I can go through the ups and downs of breastfeeding, pumping, nipple pain, mastitis, and still nurse you – I feel pride that I persevered. That I hold you close, keep you near, sleep by you, attach you to my heart, my head and my body, I feel pride that I can dedicate these years to you, knowing that these days will come back to me many fold.

I feel pride, because it is my achievement. It is what I have worked for. It is what I have learned from this experience of motherhood, thus far. I feel pride when I look at where I have come from and where I have been and how I have grown. And when I look at you, I know that my sense of pride is not an exaltation of myself above any other woman.

No, it is an exaltation of myself above my old self. It is the betterment of me.

And it is all because of you.

How will I ever thank you?

With all my love.

Mama

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)

News Of The Week: Forced Adoption And Conditional Love

I was reading the Guardian Life & Style Family section and “My mum said I must give up my baby” caught my eye. The stories are all sad, and all about the same. It was the 50’s or the 60’s and my parents didn’t want me bringing shame on their house so they took away my child and told me to get on with my life. My thoughts this morning are not on adoption, but on the conditions that are set on our children for them to ‘earn’ our love.
Read more: News Of The Week: Forced Adoption And Conditional Love

The Mother and Baby Bond

I was pregnant for 40 weeks and six days. I knew pretty early on that I was pregnant and had my first scan at 3 weeks. When I saw my little baby on the screen, no bigger or different from my coat button, that became its name, “Button”. I didn’t know the sex, but from that moment, I loved my Button.

Or I thought I did.
Read more: The Mother and Baby Bond

If I Should Die…

Dear Ameli,

As I lay feeding you tonight, watching your eyes grow heavy and your breath deepen, I wondered what you would want to know about me one day, if I were to die. I imagined you sitting on a beach, lost in thought. I imagined your Aunty coming to you, and I imagined you asking her about me. It made me sad, seeing you there, staring at the stars and the waves, with your toes digging holes and your fingers massaging the sand as I love to do.

I wondered what she would say; what people would tell you, if I were gone.

Read more: If I Should Die…

365-175 to 365-181 A Week in Pictures

We have had another fantastic week of travel and visitors. We have been so blessed, and my Dad, Mom and Brother deserve a huge thank you for making all this possible for us. We could not have managed this holiday for ourselves at this time, much less given my gran such an amazing time.  My gran has been on my ‘best friend’ list since I was a child. She’s never been one of those cuddly, spoiling us kind of grans, but she has always been fair and just and she’s always been there for me, been my advocate and really ‘seen’ me.

There are so many ways where we are so different, but I’ve always felt like I could go to her with anything I needed to. Having this time to share with her, and seeing her bond with my daughter and being able to show her the land her own grandmother walked on, the town she lived and so on has meant more to me than I can ever relay in words. Thank you Mom, Dad & Ziech for making this possible.

Read more: 365-175 to 365-181 A Week in Pictures