Welcoming a new baby into the family can be one of the most exciting and emotional times of your life. Even if it’s your second, third or fourth kid, it’s still a very big deal to have a whole new person join your family and share your heart. But while you can prepare yourself for what is to come, sometimes it can be a hard time for big brothers or sisters. Despite the excitement, it can be a scary feeling, like someone else is going to take your place as the household favourite.
While some might say the baby is gift enough, sometimes it can help ease the transition for a new brother or sister to feel like they’re getting something out of the arrangement.
I remember when I was born my brother “brought” me a doll… I didn’t ask my mother whether she pushed the doll out too, but that’s beside the point. ‘Dorothea’ became my favourite new friend and even though at the age of six I was excited – not daunted – by the idea of a baby brother, it still helped me feel like I was part of the birth experience.
We asked a bunch of mums how they helped their first-born celebrate graduating from little kid to big sib.
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There are ways to make the transition easier. Image: iStock
A personalised ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ book
If your eldest is old enough, let them write the story of their little brother or sister’s first year of life. Mum Rebecca says that a new book was exactly the right present for her son Ollie before they welcomed little brother Charlie into the family.
“We went shopping and got an “I’m going to be a big brother” book from Kmart. It explained exactly what was going to happen and how things would change but stay the same and it really helped ease the transition.” There are a few books on the market, but this one from Amazon lets your big kid write their own story and capture the baby’s first year from their perspective.
Let your big kid tell the story of their baby brother or sister. Image: Amazon
Big sibling tee
A big sibling tee is a great way to commemorate your kid’s new role in the family. There are heaps of these out there – including ones that your whole family can wear together – but we love this retro tee from Etsy
Retro cool for a big sister. Image: Etsy
A ‘sibling’ friendship bracelet
A perfect gift to let your big boy or girl know how special they are and how they will always be joined with their little brother or sister. Mum Tanya said when her little girl was about to become a big sister they went shopping together and picked out two bangles with charms that fit together when joined. “She loved the idea that she and her sister were connected forever,” Tanya said.
There are plenty of different kinds available, like this one from Etsy.
The perfect gift for little sisters. Image: Etsy.
Their own baby doll
When my brother was born 30 years ago, dolls that acted and behaved like real babies weren’t really a thing so I had to content myself with Dorothea, who was pretty and had a nice frock but beyond braiding her hair, I couldn’t do much with her. These days you can get any number of life-like dolls for your little kids to play mum on. “I bought Ollie a little toy baby to get him used to the idea,” mum Rebecca said, while another mum, Bianca said that she also bought her daughter a Luvabella doll along with a pram so that she could join in when they went for walks.
A Luvabella doll is perfect for little girls – and boys – wanting to play mum or dad. Image: Kmart
A doctor’s kit
Mum Kate had toddler twin girls and was expecting her third when she was put on bed rest seven months into her pregnancy. “We got the girls a ‘hospital kit’,” she said, “So that they could play doctor but also so they could ‘check-up’ on how I was going throughout the end of the pregnancy. It really helped them understand more of what was going on and made them feel like they were helping to take care of me and their new baby sister. Years later, they still play with it.”
Let your kid play doctor and help mum and their new baby. Image: Amazon
A personalised toy
On the Facebook group Party Mums, plenty of parents shared the idea of choosing a present that a new brother or sister could bond with their baby sibling over. “I took my daughter to build-a-bear and got her to make a matching teddy to give her sister when she was born.” Others said the same thing, agreeing that involving the big brother or sister in the experience was a big part of successful bonding.
Something they’ve been longing for
You don’t need to wait until their birthday or Christmas: if your baby is about to become a big sibling, now is the perfect time to gift them something they’ve been desperate for. And if it comes from their new brother or sister, they understand that it’s a one-off, special gift and they will learn to appreciate it even more. Mum Bek said, “I got a Ben 10 watch that lights up and makes noise, and Frankie LOVED it (though was slightly disappointed that it didn’t actually turn him into an alien) and tells everyone he got it from his baby sister!”
Mum Bek got her son Frankie a Ben 10 watch. Image: Target
Something to keep them busy
Let’s face it: as much as you promise yourself you won’t let a new baby change things, you know there will be times when you literally cannot help but put baby number two before your firstborn. Mum Leah gifted her son something that would keep him occupied for those times she couldn’t be with him as much as she liked. “I got him a big bag of LEGO. I knew how much he would love it but also I knew it would keep him busy while I was breastfeeding,” she said.
An instant camera
“When my son Mac was born we gave his older siblings instant cameras so they could be ‘hospital photographers’,” Mum Caroline said. “They weren’t there in the room when Mac was being born, obviously, but they loved feeling like they were there to capture his first few days of life. It was a great way to involve them but also give them a fantastic present at the same time that they could use for years.”
An instant camera like this one from Fujifilm is a great gift idea. Image: Target
Big brother/sister bag
If you want to cover all your bases, maybe think of putting together a big brother or sister kit. Mum Sally who was about to have her second baby put together a bag full of goodies for her son, Hamish. “It gave him a little something special to make him feel like he was important, but it also contained a bunch of things to occupy him at the hospital, like colouring in books, puzzles and toys,” she said.
Pinterest has lots of ideas for how you can pull your bag together.