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Toddler Talk: Becoming a Big Sib

Is there anything more traumatic for a mom of Number One, than the idea of how introducing Number Two will go? (Well, besides labor... and glucose tolerance tests.. .and let's not get into where my friend Tabitha said she got varicose veins.)

My friend Sara is awaiting her second child (as in, she's actively dilating) almost as much as her three-year-old daughter is. Of course, her older child is insisting, "If it's not a girl, we're giving it back!" When my friend Alexis was pregnant with her second son, her toddler kept repeating "No baby!"... until the moment he met his new brother, when he said, "Oh baby!" and gave him a kiss.

It's not easy to prepare your preschooler for the big life changes he or she is about to face when going from your one-and-only to you're-the-older-one-you-gotta-wait, kid. Thankfully, the literary world has been tackling this problem with grace, aplomb, and adorable illustrations for years. Here are ten wonderful books to help your baby transition to Big Brother or Big Sister.

1. I'm a Big Brother and I'm a Big Sister by Joanna Cole

Cole, a former elementary school teacher and librarian, creates reassuring tableaus for soon-to-be older brothers and sisters, so they both know what to expect from their new siblings, but also can start to identify with the awesomeness of their new, bigger roles in the family.

2. My New Baby by Rachel Fuller

Part of a series of four books in the New Baby, this bright board book follows a toddler as he wonders about the family's new baby, from "Why does the baby always have milk?" to "Why is Baby crying? Can we make it stop?" (Really, questions we all have!) Colorful illustrations depicting loving, happy family members will help calm a toddler's fears.

3. A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban

Remember Frances from your own childhood? Revisit the little badger's world as her new little sister Gloria invades—and disrupts—Frances' normal routine. Thankfully Frances' loving parents reassure their older daughter that everyone in the family is equally important.

4. Waiting for Baby by Harriet Ziefert

Is your toddler eagerly anticipating the arrival of the new sibling... maybe, in fact, getting a little frustrated? If so, he'll love to read about Max as he waits—and wait, and waits—for his baby sister to be born.

5. Penny Loves Pink by Cori Doerrfeld

This colorful tale follows pink-lover Penny as she grapples with the fact that she has a new baby brother—a catastrophe, as "boys are blue." The delightful illustrations lead the reader to suspect Penny's world may not remain all-pink for very long... and that she may learn to love other colors.

6. What to Expect When Mommy's Having a Baby by Heidi Murkoff

Do you have older kids, or aspiring doctors? Then you might enjoy this offering from the What to Expect When You're Expecting creators, with straightforward explanations and illustrations showing what's happening inside Mommy's body. Of course, after a few pages, you might need to explain the terms "womb," "ovum," and "sperm" to your tot. Order at your own risk/maturity level.

7. Too Small for Honey Cake by Gill Lobel

A sweet take on potential sibling rivalry starring Little Fox, his Daddy... and this mysterious new baby. If your older child is feeling jealous of the new arrival, this tender tale will teach him how to love the family's new addition. Bonus points for having Dad as the main caregiver!

8. Hello Baby! by Lizzy Rockwell

Kids love following the adventures of this preschool-age boy as his family prepares for a new baby, from going to the doctor with his mom to bringing the baby home. With a gestation-period chart included and realistic details like umbilical cords and sponge baths, this will help your little one track the new baby's growth and learn what will happen when the baby first comes home.

9. On Mother's Lap by Ann Herbert Scott

Illustrator Glo Coalson updates the 1972 classic with warm pastel tones in this reassuring tale about an Inuit boy who's afraid there isn't room on his mother's lap for him, his toys, and his new baby sister. Of course he discovers his mother's love easily expands to encompass them all. (As does my lap, when I'm pregnant!)

10. We Have a Baby by Cathryn Falwell

This reassuring picture book features calming cut-paper artwork and loving parents who prepare their toddler child for all the wonderful things you can do with baby. While some books focus on children's fears about a new sibling, Falwell's tale keeps everything in a positive light. And her cut-paper illustrations, which feature a family that could be multi-racial, and an older sibling that could be a boy or girl, are a great way to make this book speak to everyone.

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