The "Your Baby" Method of Sibling Preparation, and Some Book Recommendations

Sometimes, baby makes four, or five, or six, or well . . . you get it.

I think I had the standard reaction to finding out I was expecting baby number two: crying, for no reason. But right after that . . . I was excited, but worried about how a new baby would affect my firstborn. He was about a year old at the time, and pretty firmly entrenched as the center of the universe.

I started reading articles about how to prepare my son for this assault on his personhood which would be his sibling. Until the husband told me to knock it off. "Just tell him he'll like it," he said, "and he will." And, as usual, he was right.

So, we developed what I like to call the "Your Baby" method of sibling preparation. Before and after the new baby is born we refer to it as "your baby" when talking to older kids. As in, "Once your baby comes you'll have to help Mommy by picking up your own toys." Or, "You need to be quiet, your baby is sleeping." Or, "Stop trying to feed that peanut butter and jelly sandwich to your baby."

We also really highlight how awesome it will be to be a big brother or sister, and how great the new baby will be. By the time the baby comes, they have no choice but to think it's the best thing that ever happened to them.

Big brother Jack and big sister Betty are pretty happy about
meeting baby Bobby for the first time.

In our experience it has made for very smooth transitions. The only bump I remember is finding two-year-old Bobby having crammed himself into the baby swing we had just pulled out of the back of the closet, shouting to no one in particular, "NO! Bobby Mommy's baby!" But he pulled it together before Gus was born.

The key to the "Your Baby" method is to always discuss the coming new baby in positive terms. We talk about what we'll do and what fun we'll have etc., and we never discuss any negative impact the baby's arrival might have. If you don't tell him it's something to be worried about, he won't think it's something to be worried about.

In keeping with the method, we only read "new baby" type books that present the coming arrival as something to be happy about. The problem is those books are few and far between. The standard "new baby" book plot goes something like this:

  1. A new baby is coming, here's how things will change.
  2. The new baby is here. THINGS HAVE CHANGED in the following ways . . .
  3. My parents really like the new baby.
  4. I hate the new baby.
  5. Some other stuff happens.
  6. Now I like him. We live happily every after.

Needless to say, such a book would undermine the successful implementation of the "Your Baby" method. To me, it seems like a bunch of malarkey that you should encourage and highlight the worst instincts in your children.

But there are a few good books out there. Here are my favorite books for a child expecting a new sibling (clicking on it will take you to Amazon*):

My kids love these books. The "old baby" always has it memorized before the new baby comes. There are two different books, one for boys and one for girls. We have both.

This book features Mayer's popular Little Critter character. It actually manages to address some of the difficulties of dealing with "your" new baby, but in a very sweet and positive light.

It isn't about a sibling, but it shows a child how a baby develops in the womb. And it does it in the most lovely, reverent way you could imagine. The illustrations are just beautiful, and the story literally changed my perception of my perception of Heaven (no, the repetition is not a typo, you'll just have to read the book.)

  • Annnnnd . . . that's it.

Can you believe it? All these kids, and those four are all the books I've ever found that I like on the subject of a coming new baby. But I'm sure I've missed a good one someplace. What books do you like? What's your new baby method?

* Full disclosure on the Amazon links: clicking on a title from any of my posts will take you to Amazon, if you buy that title (or anything else) after clicking through my blog I get a (very small) percentage. So far I have made . . . two cents. Literally two cents! Awesome.