Help me pal around with a new big brother (age 2)
April 6, 2021 3:45 PM   Subscribe

My friends have a 2 year old and another baby on the way. I am the lucky friend who will get the call when it's time for mom & dad to go to the hospital and I get to hang out with the 2 year old. Yay! What are some cool books or gifts that might help my little buddy feel great about becoming a big brother?
posted by wowenthusiast to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I still have vivid memories of the week my grandparents took me when my brother was born, and I was only 3 and a half. It was very specifically all about ME. I got gifts, we went and got a special meal that I chose, me me me. My parents had spent 9 months prepping me to be a big sister, and then I have spent the rest of my life doing that.

So I, with no parenting experience or young child experience of my own, am here to suggest you make this special time for you and him to do special things for him and about him together, just the two of you, because you are so excited to spend this time only with him. You are excited to meet his new sibling, too! But right now? Just you and this kid being cool friends together.
posted by phunniemee at 4:10 PM on April 6, 2021 [5 favorites]

Same here! My dad made me eggs in a blanket and we watched the Three Stooges and I had so much fun (I think this must have been after my little sister was born and possibly my grandparents were in the hospital with my mom? For the actual birth I was with a neighbor)? Regardless, it's one of my favorite childhood memories and I really missed that stuff when my sister arrived.
posted by clarinet at 4:37 PM on April 6, 2021

Joanna Cole's I'm a Big Brother. Rather than focusing on the baby, it talks about how much more capable the big brother is, which appeals to a toddler's ego.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 5:07 PM on April 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

You could buy a t-shirt that says Big Brother on it and there’s a lovely Todd Parr book about babies that’s great for that age. (Todd Parr makes very sweet picture books for young children - almost any of them would work). I like to talk with kids about when they were babies and show them photos to remind them. Two is really young for big talks or activities, but I think concentrating on playing some games, keeping big brother on his schedule, will really go a long way. You could work on a finger painting or drawing together and hang it in baby’s room or for him to give his parents. I got to do this once with my friends 3 year old and I remember mostly being tired (the call had come late at night), but we had fun. I did my friends dishes and cleaned her kitchen quite a bit and she seemed really appreciative of that. You’re a nice friend!
posted by areaperson at 5:37 PM on April 6, 2021

My New Baby by Rachel Fuller has been very popular with all the older siblings I know of, in addition to Joanna Cole's I'm a Big (Sister|Brother) mentioned upthread (they're essentially the same book, just gendered). These books are great for the reason Mr.Know-it-some mentions.

Being able to read "the baby book" ahead of time is really helpful to prepare the older siblings for their new relationships.
posted by kdar at 6:09 PM on April 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

When I became a big sister I got a baby doll that I still have. When my oldest became a big brother, he got a baby doll of his own. He used to wash and feed his baby while I cared for his sister. My son (3.5) also got a "big boy bike" - something he could do that baby couldn't. Not sure what the equivalent is for a 2 year old.
posted by metahawk at 7:27 PM on April 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I agree with the advice to make it fun for the toddler and not themed around the baby. Big fun for a 2 year old:

Anything with animals - petting zoo, Puppy date, Feeding birds at a coffee shop or park

Turning a large cardboard box into a vehicle or house by cutting doors and windows into it. Don’t bother painting it, too much hassle- just cut flaps the kid can manipulate and use tape to make handles.

Making a blanket fort

Helping make lunch - maybe mini pizzas on English muffins, with a few toppings to sprinkle on

Messy play with a big shallow plastic tub where they get to dump in random kitchen stuff and mix it around - water, cornmeal, corn starch, food colouring, etc. And a few plastic measuring cups for scooping. Do it outside if it’s warm enough, or, indoors, put down a shower curtain first and have an old towel nearby for quick cleanup!

A bath during which they get to eat a popsicle!

Any improvised game where the adult makes silly repetitive noises - like peekaboo but loud and goofy

A new stuffy

The storybook Ta-Da by Kathy Ellen Davis is super cute- about cooperation- and my toddler looooves it.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:44 PM on April 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

How to Grow a Dinosaur is a lovely book about becoming a big brother. My eldest was two when his brother was born last year and we read that book the most.
posted by carolr at 8:07 PM on April 6, 2021

Daniel Tiger has a great book and episode about becoming a big brother.

Bring bubbles.
posted by melodykramer at 1:11 AM on April 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nth recommendation to just make this fun 1:1 time and not at all about the baby/ brotherhood/ how his life is changing/ etc. Surely his parents have been doing the "YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE" thing for months now. You're probably the only person who can be focused on him and not the anxiety-provoking Momentous Change that is happening: roll with that.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:31 AM on April 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

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