The arrival of a new baby is often described as a challenge for the older child or children. I have no doubt that it is indeed a challenge. The parents are a bit less available - during the pregnancy already- and there are so many subtile (and not so subtle) physical and psychological changes in the mother and in the interactions in the family. Because of their deep sensitivity, children pick on all the moods and the emotions. I also have no doubt that this experience can be lessened by open discussions and books are a wonderful ressource and a great starting point.
In our family, this pregnancy came after the loss of two other babies in the early stages of the previous pregnancies and the discussion about the arrival of a new baby in the family has been already opened a while ago. Some of the books were already on our shelves last year and so we just took them out again.
Some of these books are "basics" in our collection of books about the Human Body. We found some others at the local library and some other were on my list and I bought them when we started hoping for another child. We read in French, English and German and some of these books have been translated in other languages too.
I think that all together this little collection covers well two important aspects :
- the changes in the human body and the miracle of the transformations that take place in a woman during pregnancy. I think it's important for a child to understand these changes from both a physical and psychological point of view
- preparing and dealing with the strong emotions and the changes that come with the arrival of a new child in the family
Anatomie by Hélène Druvert (also available in English, German, Italian, Spanish.. and probably other languages too). It's a gorgeous book, both fascinating and informative and at the same time accessible to younger children. They can decide how deep they want to go into the subjects. My daughter was a huge fan of this book before my pregnancy and so we use it spontaneously as a support for discussion: where the baby is located, how it grows, etc...
The Human Body by Carron Brown & Rachael Saunders is another stunning and interesting book about anatomy and the journey into the human body starts with the miracle of life. My daughter loves holding it up to the light to see inside the human body. On the first page children can see a baby inside the mother's belly.
Wie kommt ein Bang auf die Welt? is a book that my daughter find by herself at the local library, in the section "3 years old +". I haven't read her the text but she likes looking at the drawings, probably because of the flaps, they seem to answer the questions she has in her mind. This is a very direct, straight to the point book that explains how children are made, how the ultrasounds are done at the doctor's office, what a midwife does, and how the baby comes into the world. This might not be a book for every family, it certainly depends on how far you want to get into a discussion with your child.
Il y a une maison dans ma maman by Giles Andrae and Vanessa Cabban (also exists in English - There's a House Inside my Mummy and German Ein Baby Wohn in Mama's Bauch) is a sweet book that reveals the changes that take place in a mother's body, behavior and emotional state, from a little child's point of view. There is a house in the mom's belly and a little baby grows inside. So the older child notices that the belly becomes bigger and bigger, that his mom is often tired and falls asleep on the couch, that she craves food and eats a lot of different things at the same time. The book also shows the child's anticipation to see the baby coming into the world. A beautiful story. We read it almost every evening, at my daughter's request
My New Baby illustrated by Rachel Fuller is a book about how a little child gets involved in taking care of the new baby. I think is a good way to open discussion about how things might change when the baby is there (or they have changed if she is already there).
Sur les genoux de maman by Ann Herbert Scott and Glo Coalson (On Mother's Lap in English. Also exists in Spanish). Definitely my favorite! It touches a topic that many parents say is a challenge when a new baby arrives into the family: jealousy. While jealousy is a normal and healthy relation in a child, you definitely want to address it before it grows into anger and frustration. And I love how this book does it: in a poetical and subtle way. There is always enough space on a mother's lap! This book has become one of my daughter's favorite and she asks us to read it before she goes to sleep.
These are our favorite books about new babies coming into families. Would love to read about your favorite's and how you opened the discussion in your family when a new baby arrived.