It should come as no surprise to anyone that the number one way we prepared for a new baby in our house is with books. Yes, I skimmed a few birthing books, nursing and sleep habits books; but ultimately the books we treasured and pored over were new baby and big sister picture books (not to mention an incredible amount of New York City books, but that’s another list altogether). And I have to say, I really think it paid off. There is a lot of big sibling love in this house and very little, if any, jealousy which is the complete opposite of all the unsolicited advice we received. I carefully chose the books we’ve added, making sure they were positive and humorous and gave the air of excited anticipation. It is all about expectations, I think.
In no way is this list comprehensive of the best sibling books or new baby books ever. And in fact, this list is very biased towards big sisters and little sisters because well, that is what we are dealing with here. Also, most of these are older books, a few classic you could say, but all worth your time and effort to find if you are looking for some sweet sibling love books to share. So here are my 8 picture books for big siblings and their new babies.
1. Baby and Me by Emma Dodd, 2013
My daughter happily received this book as a big sister gift from a dear friend. It is quite popular with her especially with its interactive pages where you can swaddle the baby, change its diaper, pull a tab to rock it and many other features. The text is simple and written from the perspective of the girl talking about her baby doll and ends with her comparing it to all the things she can help her mommy with their new baby. Dodd’s illustrations are fun and colorful and the larger format of the book is great for toddler hands lugging it around the house. Although the suggested age is 3+, our two-year old handles it fine with just an initial instruction of being gentle with the tabs and pieces.
2. Miffy and the New Baby by Dick Bruna, 2003
This is obviously one of my favorites in the list given my passion for Dick Bruna’s creations. It was a natural (and necessary!) addition to our growing sibling book collection. Miffy’s parents surprise her one day with the news of a baby bunny coming soon. She is ecstatic and sets about creating a piece of art for the baby. Once the baby bunny arrives, Miffy is incredibly surprised at how tiny it is, a line that my daughter word-for-word quoted upon meeting her own new sister. I’m not sure if it was an intentional quote or not, but I’m thrilled that my offspring is already quoting children’s books of her own accord!
3. Best-Ever Big Sister by Karen Katz, 2006
My daughter tends to love any of the books Karen Katz puts out with their bold colors and patterns and the large faces of the characters. Described as a lift-the-flap book, the format of this is somewhat odd as the flaps are really entire pages but it works fine nonetheless. Each page speaks in first-person as the big sister states what her baby sibling does and then you lift the flap to see how she can do it differently because she is the big sister. The big sister speaking changes from page to page as does the sibling’s gender. The activities shared include things like getting dressed on their own, using silverware, using the potty, etc….
4. The Baby Sister by Tomie dePaola, 1996
Written as a tiny memoir from dePaola’s own childhood, this book is sweet and tender with genuinely lovely illustrations in dePaola’s signature style. In the story, young Tommy is awaiting the arrival of his own baby sibling and desperately hopes it is a sister with a little red hair bow. The book discusses his concerns and the events leading up to it, including a less-than-sympathetic grandmother with strict rules. Thankfully, the little sister is all Tommy hopes and his grandmother ends up being a friend rather than a disapproving foe. I think my favorite thing about this one is that it isn’t pushing a lesson about how to be a good big sibling or inserting any morals. It is a nice story and you take what you will from it.
5. 101 Things to do with a Baby by Jan Ormerod, 1984
This book is rather intense and yet incredibly fun and clever to read. It opens with a sweet picture of big sister laying in bed reading next to her nursing mom and baby brother. From there, the only text is actually numbered 1-101 and each number has a short line paired with a small image or vignette. The pages are full of little images, almost like a comic book. Each number are things like “say good morning” and “share your egg” as well as “shoo away the cat” and “stretch his legs.” It is humorous and childlike in the things she chooses to do and the ways she is helpful, or not. This is the only one that we haven’t actually read word for word as it is a bit much for our daughter, but the pictures are lovely to look at and you can pick numbers here and there to read rather than strictly reading from front to back. Also, this is the only one that depicts strong feelings of jealousy at one point, but the resolution is tidy and it isn’t the focus of the story. I really love these illustrations.
6. The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby by Stan & Jan Berenstain, 1974
Oh the classic Berenstain Bears. And this is such a sweet one where Sister Bear enters the family. Her brother, known here as Small Bear but from now on in the books as Brother Bear, is blissfully unaware of her impending arrival until he awakes one day too big for his small bed. Thank goodness it was just in time as he and Papa Bear set out to make a new bed for him and arrive home to discover Mama Bear went and had a baby! Neat and tidy plot aside, my favorite spread of the book is when Small Bear is pondering the fact that he hadn’t realized a baby was on the way except that he had found Mama Bear’s lap getting increasingly more difficult to sit in for book readings. Awesome!
Lastly are the two unchallenged favorites of the group by myself and more importantly my daughter who it seems would read nothing but these every single day.
7. Baby Dear by Esther Wilkin, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, 1962
Oh what a sweet book! Narrated by the little girl, she tells about her new baby doll she affectionately calls Baby Dear that Daddy brought to her the day he brought Mommy home with her new baby. The little girl and her Mommy take care of their precious babies in the same way: feeding them, bathing them, singing and writing in their special books about them. The sweet details of this book, even from a 60s perspective, are tender and delightful making this a lovely book to reread often. My daughter loves it dearly and acts it out often on her own baby doll which she not coincidentally received a few days after her sister arrived. I read this book as a child, as my sister had received a copy before my own arrival, and I heartily admit to loving it then and loving it even more now watching my own daughter treasure it. Also, I dearly love that two sisters wrote and illustrated it. That makes me a little teary, but that could just be post-baby talking.
8. The New Baby by Ruth and Harold Shane, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, 1975
I took a bit of a chance on this when I saw it online from a vintage book seller. I had never seen it in person, but the name Eloise Wilkin holds strong in my mind and I’m so glad I ordered it! Much longer in text than Baby Dear, my daughter still finds this story captivating, hundreds of reads later. The protagonist is Mike who learns that a new baby is coming when a deliveryman brings a baby buggy to the house. He is ecstatic! The text is very detailed, and verges on preachy in a few places, but perhaps that is just my critical eye reading into it too much. Mike’s Aunt Pat comes to stay with him while Mummy and Daddy go to “get” the baby and he waits and waits for the new baby to come home. I love the portrayal of little Mike’s thoughts and sweet spirit about it all, especially the end when “Mike wanted to see her most of all.” This is also the second book in this group that makes a big deal out of big sibling receiving a big, new bed so that the baby can have their little bed. Here’s hoping that message comes through positively as we’ll be making that transition in a month or so!
I hope you enjoy these books as much as we are. I can’t speak authoritatively about the psychology of reading new baby books before the impending arrival of a new baby, but I like to think it really did help pave the way for happy, excited feelings. I hope they help you too when you find yourself in a similar place. And please, let me know what sibling books you love as I’m sure we’ll be continually looking for more!