Hi Mama! Looking for big brother and big sister gift ideas? I doubt I have to tell you that preparing for a baby after your first is a LOT different!
And if you’re like me, a BIG part of your preparations have to do with your other kids! There’s the logistics of where they’ll be during the birth, thoughts about their routine, and of course, preparing them mentally for a new sibling!
While nothing can totally prepare them for this huge change you can ease the transition with a little prep. Things like talking about it ahead of time, reading big brother books and big sister books, and a special sibling gift can go a long way.
Read on for tips to prepare your kids for a new baby and get lots of ideas for big sister and big brother gifts!
Preparing for a new sibling
Preparing siblings before baby arrives is super important. Think about it…before now life revolved around your firstborn! And even in larger families, a new baby really shifts the family dynamic.
I’ll never forget my friend telling me about how her daughter innocently asked, “So when do we bring the baby BACK to the hospital?”.
Of course, how you prepare your kids for a new baby is going to depend a lot on their age. Naturally, a five- or six-year-old will be able to wrap their head around the whole thing a lot better than a two-year-old.
And for my mamas whose babies are really close together, one big benefit is that they’ll really never know any different!
But no matter the age gap, a little preparation can’t hurt!
Tips to prepare siblings for a new baby
Full disclosure – I am speaking from MY experience of having a second baby with a 3.5-year-old at home. But I wanted to put together a guide to help people with all different age gaps and needs.
So, I talked to a lot of other mamas to try to gather tips for all different age groups ?
How to prepare your toddler for a new baby (1-2 year olds):
- Read big sister or big brother books, there are some really great board books that are perfect for this age range
- Let your toddler see and help you prepare baby things before baby arrives, and talk about them being for “baby”
- Have your toddler feel baby kick in your belly – babies in mama’s belly are a totally abstract concept but this can help!
- Visit a friend with a baby, or point out little babies in public – talk about how the baby acts
- Practice taking care of a baby doll or stuffed animals together – emphasize being gentle and quiet (this is one you can do this with 10-12-month-olds)
- Talk about what newborns are like – especially the fact that they really don’t do much! (this will work best with little ones in the two year range)
- Watch shows about new siblings – the Daniel Tiger new baby content is awesome. PBS has a resource page that I highly recommend!
Tips to prepare your preschooler for a new sibling (3-6 year olds)
- Read big brother or big sister books and engage your preschooler’s curiosity with open-ended questions. Let them lead the dialogue!
- Talk about what will happen when it’s time for the baby to come (exactly what will happen when you have to go to the hospital) – the disruption to routine is hard on young children, but storytelling the event before it happens can help a LOT!
- Explain how newborns act – my first was surprised that baby couldn’t play or do much! Talk about what newborns do (and don’t do!) and how we have to help them do everything
- Look at pictures and videos of when your preschooler was a new baby. Talk about how you took care of them
- Involve your preschooler in baby prep – they can help with things like laundering baby clothes, setting up a diaper caddy, and testing out baby gear
- Practice taking care of babies with a doll, pretend play how to act around newborns
- Make a list of quiet activities big bro/sis can do when baby is sleeping – involving them with the brainstorm is really helpful!
- Watch the Daniel Tiger New Baby episode and check out the PBS Daniel Tiger resources for welcoming younger siblings. My friend’s daughter LOVED this and watched the episode on repeat leading up to baby’s birth
Preparing elementary aged kids for a new sibling (1st to 5th graders)
- Even though your child is older, intentional preparation can still go a long way! Even elementary-aged kids benefit from some storytelling and set expectations. This is a BIG change.
- Have them take a bigger role in the preparations, older kids can help a LOT with organization, decorating, and even picking things out for baby. Feeling like part of the preparations can help with the bond before baby arrives
- Set realistic expectations for how much attention babies need, brainstorm ways they can help, things they can do when you’re tending to baby, and things you can do together WITH baby – again involving them and having a concrete list to reference can help older kids
- Also, feel free to use some of the strategies from the preschool list, but adapt them to make more appropriate for your child’s maturity level
Create a sibling gift basket
One thing I did for Walter (my first!) before my second arrived was create a fun sibling gift basket! The gift was “from the baby”, and I actually told him from the start that when the baby arrived he’d be getting a gift from baby.
I wanted him to feel really excited about the baby coming, and I wanted the big day to have a “Christmas morning” kind of feel to it! Lot’s of cool stuff for him to play with so that he felt really special and important.
You might be different; you might just want to do one little thing – and that would totally have the same effect! I don’t think there’s one right or wrong way to do a sibling gift ?
My experience with a sibling gift basket
In the end, the sibling basket went really well, Walter was pumped to get the gifts and loved them! BUUUUT if I were to do it again, I think spreading the gifts out over the course of 2-3 weeks might have been even better. My guess is he would have been more interested in the toys for longer if we spaced it out.
So yeah. Maybe a smaller basket with a few things for the first meeting, and then hold onto a couple of other treats or activity-type toys to pull out over the course of the first few weeks to help the transition. But that’s just my experience!
Create separate basket for when you’re nursing
In addition to a general sibling gift or sibling gift basket, I decided to put together a separate nursing basket!
The idea is that you have a basket of special toys and activities that only comes out when you are nursing baby. This way big brother or big sister has something to keep them happy and busy while you’re breastfeeding – because these aren’t things they always have access to.
I’ll be honest, the breastfeeding basket didn’t work too well for us. I wasn’t great about only putting it out while nursing, and the novelty of the activities wore off kinda quickly for Walter.
BUT I think if your first is younger (like in the 1-2 year old range) this could work really well! A basket of novelty toys they don’t usually see would be really effective at keeping them busy so you can nurse.
Big Brother and Big Sister Gift Ideas
Okay! So what should you put in your baskets? I decided to focus on toys that were open-ended that I knew Walter would love using in his imaginative play. And then I got some books that had to do with things I knew he really liked.
But you can also stick more to the baby theme if you want! I think this is really about knowing your kid and what’s going to keep them happy and occupied.
- Baby-themed stuff can let your little one work along side you
- Open-ended toys can occupy them in their own “kid world” while you’re caring for baby
Both are great options! I also got him a camera, which was a HUGE hit – it’s been great since Ryland arrived, too, because he can take pictures of baby and show him the pictures he takes.
This list of big brother and big sister gift ideas is for little ones in the 2-6 year old range!
Okay, here’s a list of big brother and big sister gift ideas!
Kids camera – Walter loved this! Big hit, and I’m impressed with how independent he can be with it
Baby doll – This is a great choice for girls AND boys. I love that this baby doll is anatomically correct and you can get one that best represents YOUR family
Baby carrier for dolls – Another must! You will likely have baby in a carrier ALOT and your mini-me can join in to be just like mama
Baby doll accessories – Again, not just for girls! This simple little diaper bag has everything your little one needs to care for their doll right along side you and your newborn
Water Wow coloring books – these would be GREAT in a nursing basket! They’re no mess and really keep my kiddo’s attention
Small figurines/animals – Walter LOVES tiny things, hah. But seriously, these are great for imaginative play
Matching PJs for older sibling and baby – Burt’s Bees are my fave for these! Almost all their prints are available in kid and baby sizes
Big sister necklace – so cute and special for the big-sister-to-be
Super big brother cape – fun for the big-brother-to-be!
Imaginative play kits – Doctor kits, tool sets, food sets and kits, anything that sparks imaginative play is a winner!
Building sets – if you don’t already have some great open-ended building type toys, these would be great! We love Magnatiles and classic wooden blocks
Older sibling books
Big sister books
Big brother books
Tips for introducing the new baby
I know the main theme of this article is about the preparation, but I wanted to touch on introducing baby a little bit too! So with Walter, we decided to wait and introduce him to baby at home.
Honestly, the decision was made for us because I gave birth during COVID and no visitors were allowed at the hospital. But I think it worked out!
With Walter, the initial introduction wasn’t too dramatic. He was actually more excited about the gifts! And you know what – that was FINE!!! I think we build up this moment in our heads, but the best thing you can do is follow your kid’s lead.
Here are some other tips I’ve compiled for you to keep in mind ?
- Greet your other children first, ideally while you’re not holding baby! They probably haven’t seen you in a few days, so give them a big hug and make it all about them for the first moment
- Try to have baby in a neutral place (car seat or bassinet) can be better than in anyone’s arms (especially for younger children)
- Let them hold baby (if age appropriate), or show them how to safely engage with baby (want to touch baby’s toes or pat baby’s belly?)
Related: Tips for Creating a Small Nursery
Tips for mama as you transition to life with two (or more!)
Okay, this is a big topic, and one that I could do a whole post on! But here are a few of my top tips to help YOU with the transition to two little ones in the first few weeks
- Let go of the house. I know you’ve heard it, but I’ll say it again!! If household clutter is super triggering for you, let your partner know that this is a concrete way they can help or lean on others to help keep it at bay
- Stock your freezer before baby arrives. Having meals you can dump in the crock pot or pop in the oven might be even MORE important when it’s not your first, because everyone needs to eat and will be happier with real food!
- Prep food for your other child ahead of time. Okay, even getting Walter a snack or lunch on the table felt hard some days after Ryland was born! I started packing him a lunch the night before, or when Ryland was snoozing in the morning and it helped so much
- Make things accessible to big bro/big sis. If they are old enough to handle it, make snacks easy to grab and set up activity bins with everything they need for a basic project so they can grab it themselves and get started. Craft bins (stickers, scissors, paper, markers) and playdough bins (playdough and accessories) are a hit around here
- Know that it’s going to be hard. I’m all about realistic expectations! Going from one to two kids is a BIG change for everyone, but you will find your groove, mama, I promise
Now you’ve got some big brother and big sister gift ideas and advice!
I LOVE that you’re looking for ways to prepare your other kids before the baby arrives.
Gifts for older siblings from the new baby are a tried and trued way to get your little one excited about their new role as a big brother or sister.
Hopefully, the tips in this article have you feeling a bit more prepared for the transition, too!
I’d love to keep the conversation going and hear YOUR best tips for preparing older siblings for a new baby. Share them below!