|Clockwise: The Baby Sister by Tomie dePaola, What a Good Big Brother by Diane Wright Landolf, My New Baby by Rachel Fuller, Julius The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes, I'm a Big Brother by Joanna Cole, The New Baby by Mercer Mayer.|
In preparation for the arrival of little Peanut, I'm doing everything I can think of to help Jr. get ready for the big transition from only-child to sibling. My mother (the best children's librarian in the world) helped me find some children's books that help toddlers, especially little boys, get ready for a new baby. There are really many good books available, but keep in mind that Jr. is two, so I was looking for books with few words and pages, so that his toddler attention-span wouldn't be exhausted before the end of the book.
I've been a bit surprised at Jr.'s interest in these books! Shoot, there aren't any big trucks or silly rhymes in them, so I was prepared for them to get tossed aside. (I mean, quite literally. Apparently, we now throw things we aren't interested in.) In fact, one night, when Jr. 's toddler autonomy was coming on strong, he insisted that he would read his bedtime stories. He picked up I'm a Big Brother and read, "Baby's Comin'! Baby's Comin'! Baby's Comin'!" as he turned the pages and pointed to the pictures.
The Baby Sister by Tomie dePaola and Julius The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes were a little long for Jr., but touched on really good topics for a slightly older child, such as jealousy and anger (in Henkes' book) and preparing for the baby to come home from the hospital (dePaola's book). The other four books we've read a bazillion times a piece. Let me share what I like best about each of them.
What a Good Big Brother by Diane Wright Landolf introduces an annoying reality of having a new baby in the house - constant crying. Jr. actually gets a little annoyed when I even read the crying parts, "Waaaaaaaaaaa!" (Of course, to make it more realistic, I read it very loud and in a screechy, high-pitched voice.) It also talks about how a big brother can help soothe a crying baby by helping rub her tummy, tickle her toes, hand daddy the wipes, and (best of all) bring mommy the nursing pillow. I like the message that big brother can be a helper and a partner with mommy and daddy.
My New Baby by Rachel Fuller is a simple little book, sharing some of the questions that might come to a toddler's mind when a new baby arrives. Like, "Why does the baby always drink milk?" and "Why is the baby crying? Can we make it stop?" The author apparently has three other books on welcoming a new sibling that are probably just as cute. I like that the book is called "MY New Baby" because I think it is so important that a toddler feels involved and connected to the baby, recognizing him or her as a part of the family.
I'm a Big Brother by Joanna Cole is one of my favorites, but maybe my husband's least favorite. I like that the book stresses the difference between a "big" brother and a baby - babies can't eat pizza and ice cream and swim! This message is a good attempt to help children overcome their jealousy of the attention a baby receives by helping them see that, really, being a big boy is more fun. The book also stresses that mommy and daddy still love the older sibling and that he will always be special to his parents. I think it's adorable. My husband thinks the repetitive "I'm a big brother!" is a little annoying. (Again, it might just be the way I'm enthusiastically reading it.)
If you can get just one book for your child about welcoming a new sibling, you should probably get The New Baby by Mercer Mayer. Jr. loves this book. Who doesn't love Mercer Mayer? And, the message is cute. Critter's new baby sister doesn't really play with him like he'd like, so what is a baby good for? Well, baby can squeeze your nose, or play with a rattle, (Jr. likes that the baby bangs Critter in the nose with the rattle) or ride in a stroller and impress your friends.
I hope these books have helped Jr. become a little more prepared for Peanut to come. I know his two year-old brain is not able to fully understand that a baby is inside mommy's tummy and will soon come out and turn his world upside down. But, at least he knows that "Baby's Comin'!"