Why I Created This Kit:
I have a lot of friends and family members who have recently started growing their families and through them I’ve gathered what I hope will be helpful tips for parents! I love the idea of easing into this huge transition by bonding through literacy activities - so powerful!
Babies Don’t Eat Pizza by Dianne Danzig
A straightforward, reassuring book aimed at children awaiting the arrival of a new baby in the family. The charming watercolor illustrations show all kinds of families caring for and getting to know their newcomers. Though many quality books on this subject are available, Danzig's offering will bring comfort to expectant parents and siblings alike. (School Library Journal)
Now We Have a Baby by Lois Rock
There's a new baby in the family—but what does that mean for an older child? This amusing and affirming book enables a grown-up and child to share together the excitement, bewilderment, and possible problems associated with having a new baby in the house. It brings a positive message of how love and patience build a family. Simply worded and attractively illustrated, this book is perfect for even the youngest child to sit and think with. (Barnes and Noble)
I’m a Big Brother & I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole
Joanna Cole, one of the biggest names in children's nonfiction, has written two new books for young brothers or sisters, entitled appropriately I'm a Big Sister and I'm a Big Brother. Short pages of text show a proud young sibling who notes what the baby can and can't do (eat pizza or ice cream, play with toys) and then talks about they can do together (gently hold, sing little baby songs, make baby warm and cozy. The book explains the need for crying and shows how the older sibling still feels special to her parents. The book ends with a helpful note to parents who are transitioning into a larger family.
Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane
Before reading the suggested books, take a stroll down memory lane. Go through old baby pictures or baby books of your older child. Not only with this make them feel special, it will also help prepare them for life with a newborn. Talk about what they liked and didn’t like as a baby, how often they were up at night, what used to cheer them up, favorite memories, and so on.
Take Note: Purpose for Reading
Before you read through the suggested books with your child, let them know that you want to answer any questions they might have along the way. Encourage them to stop and talk about any questions or feelings that arise. In addition, while reading, have them pay close attention to anything that excites them about being a big brother or sister. Focus on what excited them, but concerns might naturally arise. If they do, what are they? Help alleviate any anxiousness by answering questions your child might have and share in anything they are excited about, too. Share anything that you are nervous or excited about, too. Your child will feel comforted in knowing that you have these feelings, too! To modify this activity for younger children, keep it simple and ask them what they are excited about and any questions they might have.
Big Brother or Sister = Big Helper!
After reading, ask your child if there are any newborn type situations that came up that they feel extra excited about helping out with. For instance, if they seem excited about bath time, plan out exactly how they can help. Maybe it’s choosing the towel their baby brother or sister gets to be wrapped up in after the bath, or maybe they’d like to help read a story to them every night, or while their baby sibling eats. Of course the ways in which your older child can/will help will change, but having a “Big Helper Plan” in place will not only help to build excitement, it will help them feel special and extra important. Extend this activity further by putting the plan on paper and having your child decorate it. Hang it on the fridge, or somewhere special! (This activity is similar to the one described in the Multimedia Activity option below).
Hugless Douglas - An Interactive Book
In this interactive book, a lovable brown bear wakes up one morning from hibernation in search of a hug — but he’s having a really hard time finding it. Little fingers tap the illustrations to see what happens when Douglas tries to hug a huge boulder, a really tall tree and a cozy-looking bush full of very soft but very scared sheep. Kids will love this book because of the laugh-out-loud animations. Parents will love it because of its heartwarming ending: Douglas finally finds the hug he was looking for all along from his big, tall, comfy mom. (TIME Tech)
My Mom’s The Best - An Interactive Book
My Mum's the best because she gives me big hugs and kisses. Whether big or small, feathered or furry, mums always know how to make us feel special! Bruce Whatley has created some of the most popular and award winning picture books in Australia, and is known for his humorous and skillful illustration style. (Publisher)
Getting Started: Such a Special Bond!
Explain that babies get a lot of attention, but it’s much more fun to be a big kid. Babies face the back of the car seat, they can’t eat ice cream, and they don’t get to play on the playground. Promise that even though you’ll be busy, you’ll listen if he/she ever needs to talk or feels they needs some attention. These interactive books are all about a child’s special bond with their Mom - cuddle up close and enjoy them!
Diving In: You’re Awesome Because...
These interactive books focus on lots of awesome things that Mom’s do. As you’re reading these together, turn the tables and tell your child all the incredible things that make them awesome and all the fantastic things they do for you! We hope that reading these interactive books and talking about this will help your child feel really secure and good about themselves. The more secure your child is prior to the birth of their sibling, the easier (fingers crossed!) we hope the transition will be!
Branching Out: My Favorite Animal!
Ask your child what their favorite animal is in these interactive books. Then, do a little research and find some fun facts about what these animals are like as babies, and what their parents do to help them. For example, they might be interested in bears like Douglas, orangutans, penguins, or frogs! So many fun animals to choose from. Focus your research on answering some basic questions such as: What kind of animal is it (amphibian, mammal, reptile, etc.)? What are some common characteristics of this type of animal? What is an interesting fact about this animal as a baby or their parents? To modify this activity for younger children, have them draw and color a picture of their favorite animal, write down the animals name (or trace over your spelling of it), explain why they like this animal the best, or write down a their favorite fun fact about this animal based on your research.
Some helpful websites to research animals:
Suggested Family Activities
Getting Babies Room Ready!
Involve your child in the preparation of the babies new room. Or, have your child make something special - anything they’d like for the nursery. If they are interesting in doing this, but don’t know what to make, start by having them create a “Welcome Home” poster or card.
Prior to baby’s arrival, help your child pick out a special gift just for their baby brother or sister. Encourage them to choose something that shows their sibling who they are and what they love. For example, if they love to swim, let them pick out a bathing suit just for the baby and talk about how exciting it will be once the baby can join in on the swimming fun! Likewise, pick out something special for the big brother or sister, from their new sibling. Once they meet, they can exchange gifts. This will help the siblings start to bond!
Special Sibling Outfit!
Have your child decorate a plain T-shirt and a newborn infant bodysuit for her new brother or sister. Using nontoxic fabric paints, your child can write phrases such as "No. 1 Big Sis," on her shirt and "Cool Little Bro," on the bodysuit. Your child will feel special wearing her shirt and showing off her new sibling wearing his as well. Your child can also decorate other articles of clothing, such as a plain canvas baseball hat for herself and a plain newborn hat for the baby. You could also have your child put her handprint on the baby's shirt and, when the baby is born, put the baby's handprint on hers.
Kinesthetic Activity Option: Try Yoga!
I just recently became a certified yoga instructor and have been teaching a few classes to kindergarteners. I know that yoga is an awesome way to boost not only adults’, but a child’s self-esteem, too. This transitional period for your family is a great time to work on making sure your oldest child feels secure. According to Yoga Journal, “When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life's challenges with a little more ease. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that's noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give our children.”
If you are interested, find the rest of the article here.
So find a nice spot in the park and try some yoga poses! Talk to your child a little about what yoga is - and why it is beneficial. Yoga focuses on a combination of the breath, body, mind, and spirit. Made up of various postures, it is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
Here are a ton of great poses to start exploring. The link below provides pictures, instructions, and videos. Have fun!
Multimedia Activity: Create a New Sibling Chart!
This video shows Abbie Schiller from The Mother Co. explaining an activity she did with her older daughter when she was expected a new baby. She does a great job explaining the rationale behind the activity and how it helped prepare her older child as well as continued to help her as the baby got older and the chart needed updating.
For more information on The Mother Company visit their website!
Some Other Tips for Parents!
- Baby Arrival PlanTalk to your child about what the plan is when it’s time for the baby to arrive. Let them know who will be taking care of them and assure them you will be thinking of them the whole time! In advance, prepare a few special notes and cards and leave them around the house as a sort of scavenger hunt. Once you head to the hospital you can tell your child that you left them a few special notes and clues. This will help calm any anxiety your child might be feeling and create a fun distraction, too!
Surprise BagCreate a “Surprise Bag” full of small and inexpensive treats for days when your older child may feel a little jealous when friends or family members bring gifts for the new baby. New parents are usually quite tired, but in lieu of small gifts, you can also place coupon type cards with suggested outings and activities such as “Park Adventure with Mommy and Daddy”, and so on.
Don’t give him/her any ideasIs your child totally pumped about being a big sibling, or sort of apprehensive? Either way, don’t plant any seeds of doubt — or anxiety — where there aren’t any. Saying “I’ll still love you” when he/she hasn’t questioned that you will, or “Don’t worry about the new baby” when he/she wasn’t worrying to begin with, will give him the idea that there’s good reason to be afraid. Reassure them on specific concerns only if they come up, but don’t bring them up yourself.
Sibling Preparation ClassesResearch sibling preparation classes in your area.
Lizzie is from south Texas, lived in Washington, DC for 8 years and currently lives in Denver, CO with her husband, 15 month old son, and their great big rescue dog, Brandy. She taught middle school for 8 years and now works on curriculum part-time for the Denver School of Science and Technology's home office. She recently became a certified yoga instructor and loves to explore beautiful Colorado with her family and friends.