The arrival of a new baby brings many activities, such as buying diapers and setting up a new room. But how do we prepare older siblings for a new baby? The Fort Worth Library has many books to help open the dialog between parents and siblings-to-be about a new bundle of joy moving into the house.
Clementine and the Family Meeting
by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Marla Frazee
Disney/Hyperion Books, 2011
For ages 7-10
Just before school, Clementine's parents tell her about a family meeting for that evening. Usually these meetings mean that Clementine is in trouble. She waits in suspense all day wondering what she has done. When it is time for the family meeting, she is surprised to find out that the family is getting a new baby! Clementine spends the next few days annoyed and thinking that the family is just fine the way it is. But after contemplation and help along the way from many adults in her life, Clementine may have come to terms with the change she and her family are going to experience. The new baby does not arrive in this book. Instead, it pays tribute to the length of time it takes a new baby to arrive and the growing pains families go through waiting for the baby.
Ma! There's Nothing to Do Here!
by Barbara Park; illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
Random House, 2008
For ages 3 and up
Barbara Park, known for the popular Junie B. Jones books, brings her trademark humor to this fun picture book framed as a letter from a mom's baby "in waiting." The unborn baby describes its boring life trapped in mommy's tummy: "I'm all in a heap here. My feet are asleep here. I'm flat out of space. I've got knees in my face. And I'm totally bored with this dumb bungee cord.... I'm not kidding you -- there is nothing to do!" Children and grownups alike will love the funny observations. The cartoonlike illustrations are just as humorous as the book's text. The story reminds older siblings of all the big-kid activities they can already do -- like playing with toys or going to the playground. It also reminds little readers how babies will do little but sleep and eat when they get home.
Babies Don't Eat Pizza
by Dianne Danzig; illustrated by Debbie Tilley
Dutton Children's, 2009
For ages 4-8
This informative book tells soon-to-be siblings exactly what new surprises a baby in the house can bring. Children learn interesting facts, such as that the new baby will have a little piece of umbilical cord left on the belly button, what a baby likes and dislikes, and a newborn's possible reactions to taking a bath. Most importantly, the book reinforces that the sibling is growing up but is loved just the same as before the new baby arrived. By referring to the new baby as "your baby," the sibling feels like a part of the excitement. Also included are tips for parents to help older children adjust to the family changes.
On Mother's Lap
by Ann Herbert Scott; illustrated by Glo Coalson
Clarion Books, 1972
For ages 3-6
Michael loves to rock with his mother and insists on bringing his toys, his blanket and more to sit with Mom on the rocker. Once he is finally comfortable, his baby sister cries, and he thinks Mother's lap is too small for baby to rock, too. Will there really be enough room? Will he enjoy snuggling close with both Baby and Mother? This beautiful tale of an Eskimo family learning to be a family together uses pencil drawings to illustrate the traditional clothing and surroundings. Older children will love the title-page illustration, which shows the family going into their house after a dog-sled ride home in the snow. Children who are struggling with a new baby already may relate most to this story about a family's evolution.
Waiting for Baby
by Harriet Ziefert; illustrated by Emily Bolam
Henry Holt, 1998
For ages 3-7
Max knows his mommy's tummy is getting bigger and bigger because she is having a baby but wonders when that baby will come. Max tries to convince the baby to come out by speaking loudly to his mom's tummy, and when that doesn't work, he tries his walkie-talkie. Even after all sorts of tactics, by the end of the week, there is still no baby. Max just about gives up, and continues doing the things he likes to do -- playing with toys and swinging on the swings. Finally, Sunday morning, Max wakes up to a surprise! It is a great choice for the last few days just before the baby is due.
Ten Days and Nine Nights
by Yumi Heo
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009
For ages 4-8
This family is waiting for an adopted baby sister from Korea to arrive. The older sister counts down the days and nights on her calendar until Mommy will be back home with the baby. She spends her days getting ready by practicing feeding a bottle to a doll and helping Daddy set up the crib. Cartoonlike illustrations show the big sister-to-be marking off days on her calendar and alternately show the mom-to-be in Korea signing the papers and bringing the baby home. This book is a great twist on traditional new-baby books, as it focuses on adoption instead of a biological child.
Lisa Smant is assistant manager in the Youth Center at the downtown Fort Worth Library. Look for these books at your local branch.