Monday, January 14, 2013

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 malarchy 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.


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12 comments:

  1. I think it works very well the way you emphasize the coming baby is "our baby" so the sibling feels like he/she is part of the coming birth and looks forward to it also.
    Nanacamille

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  2. I've always liked "My New Baby" (http://www.amazon.com/My-New-Baby-Series/dp/0859539741) - no words, so you can narrate however you want, and there are several pages with Mom nursing, which I get a kick out of, since that's *really* what happens most of the time when a new baby gets here! Your first two suggestions are also big favorites around our house. I love the "your baby" concept - maybe I'll try that when we have #5! #3 & 4 are twins, so my older kids each have their "own" baby and there's always plenty of baby to go around :P

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    1. Rosie, Twins! I've always wondered how that would go. :0) Thanks for the recommendation, I will look into it. I would love to have a book that shows nursing. Well, not that SHOWS nursing, you know what I means. The books I recommended are all bottle books, and we're not a bottle family, so it would sure be nice to ad a nursing book to the collection.

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    2. I was going to recommend that one too. I can say stuff like "babies cry about being cold or tired or hungry or nothing at all but we cuddle them and they're happy again" because BABIES CRY. And it's FINE. No worries.

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  3. I love this. I grew up in a huge Irish Italian catholic family and it was always "our/your" baby. Well, fast forward to my fifth and I think my daughter really thought it was her baby :) love sibling love.

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  4. I love your "your baby" idea! The more babies we have, the less jealousy we seem to have, as the youngest ones just follow everybody else's example, but I wish authors didn't consider having a baby such a nuisance to be overcome.

    We do have another nice book, My Baby Brother Needs Me, by Jane Moncure (which I received for Christmas 1979 and my mom saved for 2 1/2 decades). It about a big sister whose baby is "still so small he needs someone to care for him," and talks about how much you and God both love your baby. Plus, awesome 70s style to boot! I think it's out of print, but perhaps used on Amazon? - Abby

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  5. Hi, this post is over a month but it was only just today that I took Kate of The Rhodes' Log's very good advice to check out your blog. One book I always loved as a little girl was That's Me in Here http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Me-Here-Jean-Darby/dp/0819873454/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362075607&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=hey%2C+that%27s+me+in+here+book
    It focuses more on the baby in-utero's development, since it is told from the baby's perspective. But a recurring theme is the baby being excited to meet his older brother and what "big kid" things the brother will teach him.

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  6. Just enjoying reading old posts of yours! We love "Baby on the Way" and "What Baby Needs" by Dr. Sears.

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  7. I'm an only child, but my mom read me a Little Golden Book called "Baby Dear" about a thousand times at my request, and I really wished for a younger sibling because of it. It's all about a little girl whose mommy has a baby which she cares for exactly the way the little girl cares for her baby doll. Looking back, it's possible that I just wanted the huge, beautiful baby doll that the adorable Eloise Wilkins illustrations show us. I don't think it's in print anymore, but I did find it used on Amazon.

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  8. Thanks Susanna, it sounds lovely! I found it in the Eloise Wilkins Stories treasury, for less than $10 on Amazon.

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  9. I am expecting my 4th and I've never had any trouble with siblings being upset at the new arrival. For one, we pray for God to send us a baby every night while we're not pregnant (starting around the time my fertility comes back) and then we pray for the baby every night until he or she is born once we do get pregnant. They're so invested in that child by the time it comes b/c of how much they've prayed for it. It is hard to get upset about an answer to prayer. ;)

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  10. these are some of our favorite books too!

    we have also used the 'your baby' method.
    i think it conveys a sense of ownership & responsibility that the older ones crave, even the toddlers. we have 8, 12 years to 4 months.

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