All parents appreciate the generous gifts that friends and family bestow when a new baby joins the family. But when there is an older sibling at home, sometimes the best gift is a "big brother" or "big sister" present.
Older siblings often feel left out because of all the attention devoted to the new baby. Plus, mom and dad are likely exhausted from caring for a newborn, and those siblings might not be getting all the attention they are accustomed to. A thoughtful gift can be just the thing to make an older child feel special.
When Ellen MacEntee of LaGrange welcomed her second child in June 2008, she appreciated when visitors came with a small gift for her toddler daughter.
"I think big sister/brother gifts remind the older sibling that people are still thinking about them when so much attention is being lavished on the baby. It is such a hard transition and recognizing the big sisters and brothers helps include them in the celebration," she says.
What to give
Some local shop owners have noticed a trend toward people buying "sibling" gifts to pair with presents for a new baby.
Marlo Hoffman, co-owner of Psycho Baby children's store in Bucktown, recommends gift-givers keep the following guidelines in mind when selecting a present for an older sibling of a new baby:
• "Choose something children can play with independently because it establishes the fact that they are 'older' than their little sibling, and it gives mama a break when she is feeding the baby," Hoffman says.
• For toddlers, Hoffman suggests gifts that inspire creative play. Good options include dress-up clothes like a superhero cape or princess outfit. For bigger brothers and sisters, give an activity book that kids can complete independently-such as a write-your-own comic or design-your-own-wardrobe kit.
• If in doubt, Hoffman says, "Go with a classic 'big brother' T-shirt and book combo."
Big brother or big sister gifts don't have to be expensive or elaborate to be a big hit with an older sibling and the exhausted parents of a newborn. Sometimes the best present is the gift of time, rest or a home-cooked meal.
"For me the perfect present was a small gift for the new baby, a kid-friendly meal and an offer to host a kids-only play date with my older son so I could get some rest," says second-time mom Genevieve Hoffman of Chicago.