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A New Baby in the Family 

The arrival of a new baby has a big effect on the existing children in the family and books, both fiction and non-fiction, are an obvious way to prepare them for the changes that lie ahead. As a result, there are masses of story books around on this topic but their quality varies enormously. Some paint such a rosy picture that children are sure to be disappointed and some (often the same ones) are just not interesting enough to stand repeated reading.  The best stories are good to read aloud with an enjoyable story that provides an opportunity to talk about babies and let children voice their fears.

What's inside your Tummy, Mummy?
by Abby Cocovini
(Red Fox)
This innovative non-fiction book takes readers through the various stages of pregnancy, with life-size pictures showing how the baby is developing. The accompanying text is clear and easy-to-read, with plenty of white space to make it look accessible. It uses language that children can understand and concentrates on facts that are likely to catch their interest. In particular, it relates the baby's size to real objects, including a baked bean, an orange and a loaf of bread. This book helps children share in the progress of Mum's pregnancy and is a particularly good choice for those who are too old for many of the other books on this page.
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Welcome to the World
compiled by Nikki Siegen-Smith
(Barefoot Books)
This is a collection of poetry about babies from about the world. Beautifully capturing the emotions of birth and parenting, it shows that those feelings are universal and independent of race and creed. Illustrated with large black and white photographs, it's a book to treasure and a lovely gift for the whole family.
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Hello! says Ollie Bear
by Tony Kenyon
(Orion)
Olly Bear resists Mum and Dad's attempts to interest him in his new baby sister. He always has something better to do. Then, when she's crying, he finds that saying "hello" makes her stop. Olly's expression is full of the worry and upset small children can feel when a new baby arrives so this story provides a good opportunity to talk about feelings.
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Rosie and Tortoise
by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks
(Viking)
Rosie the Hare eagerly awaits the birth of her little brother but his premature arrival weighing 'only as much as an onion' frightens her so much she keeps well away from him. Then one day Dad and Rosie are out picking blackberries and Dad tells Rosie a story - The Hare and the Tortoise - which helps her to realise that baby Bobby is 'slow and steady' just like the tortoise. That night Rosie is able to hold her brother for the very first time. A lyrical telling in both words and pictures. Don't miss this one.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Tom and the Tree House
by Joan Lingard
(Hodder)
Tom's adoptive parents are delighted when the doctors are proved wrong and his mum becomes pregnant. But Tom is worried. This baby is really theirs in a way he can never be. Surely they will love her more than him. A very perceptive junior novel about a particularly sensitive situation.
Ages 6-9
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Oonga Boonga
by Frieda Wishinsky Illustrated by Carol Thompson
(Picture Corgi)
None of the adults can stop baby Louise crying until Daniel comes home from school and teaches them his special words - oonga boonga. A reassuring story about the importance a big brother or sister to a baby.
Ages 3-7+
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Waiting for Baby by Annie Kubler
My New Baby by Annie Kubler
(Child's Play)
These two board books have no text but the delightful pictures tell the story of the new baby's arrival from the point of view of a very young child. Perfect for older babies and toddlers provided you are happy to make up the words yourself. 'Waiting for Baby' deals with pregnancy up to the arrival of the baby while 'My New Baby' deals with the first few days of the baby's life with Dad doing much of the work.
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When the Teddy Bears Came by Martin Waddell
(Walker Books)
When baby Alice comes to Tom's house, she brings a bear with her and so do all the visitors who come to greet the new arrival. Soon there are so many bears that Tom worries there isn't any room left for him but, of course, there is and all ends happily with Mum, Dad and Tom looking after the bears and the baby together. The delightful story is complemented by softly, realistic illustrations with each of the bears having its own individual character. An ideal choice for toddlers.
Ages 2-5
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I Want a Sister by Tony Ross
(Andersen Press)
The Little Princess is delighted there is a new baby on the way but there is one problem - she only wants a sister. Brothers are smelly and rough and have all the wrong toys. Naturally the baby turns out to be a boy but she soon cheers up when her parents assure her they didn't want a girl because they already had her. Great fun to read aloud, especially for little girls, Little Princess fans and others who share her determination to only have a baby the same sex as themselves.
Ages 2-6
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What Baby Wants by Phyllis Root 
Illustrated by Jill Barton
(Walker Books) 
Mum is tired so the rest of this rather eccentric family offer to look after the baby while she sleeps. When he starts to cry, they each in turn come up with a daft solution which fails to calm him down until finally Little Brother proves he is the only sensible one in the family by cuddling the baby to sleep. The text is easy to read aloud with plenty of repetition and nonsense words while the increasing chaos in the house is brought to life by pictures full of humorous detail. A good book for introducing the general topic of babies in an amusing way. 
Ages 3- 7
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A Special Something by Jan Fearnley
(Methuen Children's Books)
Unusually for a picture book, this story is written in the first person. The main character, a girl of about 5 or 6, voices her fears about the new baby by worrying that inside Mum's bump is a hippopotamus who will take all her space, a dinosaur who will keep her awake at night, a crocodile who will spoil her drawings or a monkey who will steal her football. Finally the baby arrives and she is captivated by this tiny brother who doesn't look much like a hippo at all. The pictures show a suitably  modern mum with 3 earrings in one ear and have plenty of detail to talk about. Fun to read for its own sake and a good choice for triggering discussion on fears and feelings. 
Ages 3-7 
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Brand New Baby by Bob Graham
(Walker Books)
The author of this book definitely hasn't any rose-coloured glasses. It's a funny but realistic look at the arrival of a new baby in the Arnold family. Edward and Wendy start off enthusiastic about the idea of a new brother or sister but are not so keen when Walter actually arrives and monopolises their parents' attention. Good for children who are already aware of the downside of babies and need reassurance that things will improve eventually. Less good for younger children and the uninitiated who may be worried at the idea of Mum having less time for them.
Ages 5+
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Along Came Eric by Gus Clarke
(Andersen Press)
Nigel, who looks about 5, is very happy until baby Eric comes along and takes everyone's attention. As Eric grows up things improve - people take notice of both of them and the two boys actually start to like each other. This very simple story is brought alive by the illustrations which are packed with funny details. There is no mention of Dad which may make this especially suitable for some family situations.
Ages 4+ including older children with special needs
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