When you discover you’re pregnant with a second child, there might be one person you’re really scared to tell the big news to: your first born. As much as you know the true gift a sibling can be – they might not immediately agree. You’re about to change your kid’s world – especially if they’re little. They’re used to being the centre of attention and now they’re not going to be.
So what’s the best way to soften the blow? A present, obviously. Your firstborn comes to visit your newborn for the first time in the hospital; your tiny baby bought their new sibling a perfect gift: their affection is sealed! (For ten minutes, anyway).
But what to buy? Obviously you'll know your own child’s likes and obsessions and a 10-year-old’s gift will obviously differ from a two-year-old’s. In general, though, parents who’ve been through the new sibling transition suggest something that your eldest can play with solo as a lot of your time in the first few weeks will be feeding the baby and toddler or young new siblings especially may get bored and frustrated. Something that will last a long time and that makes older sibling feel more involved is also advisable. Oh, and nothing too noisy, the baby is trying to sleep.
So here are 10 great ideas for new big brother or sister presents for the kid who's about to lose his or her "I run this place" title.
VTech kidizoom five megapixel camera: £39.99, Amazon
Our constantly snapped smartphone generation of kids are used to having to say "cheese" a lot – this children’s camera (aimed at ages three-plus) turns the tables and is a chance to make your kid the official photographer of the family’s new baby. It gives them the chance to take five megapixel photos and videos of you, plus add fun Snapchat-style frames, and stamps etc to photos and videos.
Our testers loved snapping away at their family, giving them an important job when visitors came. If you also give the new sibling a notebook to go along with the present, they can stick the photos in and make their own scrapbook – a big hit with our new siblings. The camera’s other features include 4x digital zoom, games, voice recorder, and a large colour LCD screen – plus it’s strong, so when our tester dropped it, it was fine. The in-built memory holds 150 photos, but if that’s not enough you can add a micro SD card.
Baby Born soft touch doll: £39.99, Argos
A doll can really help toddlers to adapt to having a new baby in the house – and this one is great because it comes with lots of accessories, such as a dummy, food, potty, nappy, bottle, wipes and clothes. She will cry real tears (silently, luckily: you don’t want extra baby crying noises in the house), drink water, use the potty and eat the food provided – she can also be taken in the bath, and lie her down and her eyes will close as she drifts off to sleep.
Our tester’s older child really loved changing this doll baby whenever his mum was doing the same. even though one provided nappy soon lost its stick and the doll was then in Pampers. It’s a shame the provided food sachet isn’t larger, but apart from that, this is a great doll. There are boy and girl versions available and they are suitable for ages three and above.
Science Museum robot mind designer: £46.62, Amazon
One for slightly older siblings – the suggested age range is six to ten years old – this fits the bill of a present that will really give kids something to do when their parents’ hands are full in their new sibling’s early days. The makers also claim a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) background which helps kids to learn to code and more.
But what our seven and nine-year-old testers loved was that they could programme their robot to move, attach a pen to draw shapes with, work their way out of a maze and more. Parent testers thought the set was pricey – but admitted their kids really liked the robot – especially the voice control feature - and played with it on their own for long chunks of time. The downside was that the robot’s small wheels meant it only works on seriously smooth surfaces – and the children felt frustrated when it got stuck.
Melissa & Doug doctor role play costumer dress-up set: £19.99, John Lewis & Partners
The doctor will see you now. A lot of our new-mum-of-two testers thought this was a great new sibling present for two reasons: first, their children (who were aged three to seven) all loved it, especially when the (real) health visitor came to check on their new baby sibling and the big ones popped on their doctor’s outfit and used the stethoscope (with sound effects, but not too loud), thermometer, ear scope, and syringe.
The other reason? “In the early weeks of sleeplessness, playing doctor’s was my favourite thing to do with my eldest,” said one mum – “it meant I could lie down and relax for ages and be ‘ill’ while she played… amazing” Our testers found the Melissa & Doug set (aimed at ages three to six years) had high quality materials and liked the fact that the jacket and mask can go in the washing machine.
Build a Bear: From £7, Build a Bear
This is an idea for when you’re ready to leave the house as a newly enlarged family, rather than a gift to have ready at the birth. But the Build a Bear concept makes a ideal gift for new siblings: kids pick their own cuddly bear or other animal from the hundreds available, add a "wish" inside, add a sound such as a parent saying their name, watch it being stuffed, name it, get a birth certificate and off they go with their new companion.
Our testers opted for two matching bears – one for the older child, and a matching one for the new baby (when he grows up a bit) – the toddler chose all the options and clothing accessories, including an internal sound of him saying "hello I’m your big brother!"
Build a Bear isn’t cheap: if you’re after clothes and other accessories (and most kids will certainly want these), a bear can easily cost £25. But they were very popular for our testers, and the gifts will last forever. You can also design your own bear online, if there isn’t a branch nearby.
Bookabees subscription: From £3.49 a month, Bookabees
Here’s a present that will last a lot longer than the average toy: it’s a book subscription service that will mean, after you fill in a form about your child's age and likes, either one, three or five (depending on how much you pay) perfectly-pitched books will arrive through your letterbox each month in a personalised box that's also full of puzzles and stickers. You can then either opt to keep the books forever, paying 50 per cent off their RRP, or send them back after reading them, and either way more arrive next month.
Our testers loved the books in their pack (featuring dinosaurs, dirty dogs and cuddling hedgehogs) – and it’s especially good as a new sibling gift as it can be tough to get out to the library in the early newborn days, and ongoing books arriving each month is really exciting. The only downside is it might be a tricky concept to explain to a tot arriving at the hospital to see their newborn – perhaps they’ll need a book there too.
Aquadoodle colour bag: £14.94, Amazon
If your child loves being creative, but you can’t stomach the idea of getting out the paint or Playdoh while you’ve got a newborn, this is a fab present. It involves zero mess, but lots of creativity – our testers loved drawing on the big play mat, (there are lots of themed options, such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Paw Patrol, and Peppa Pig) – all parents had to do was fill the Aquadoodle pen with water for kids to use on the mat and see their drawings appear. Once the water dries, the drawings disappear, ready to start all over again. It’s mess-free but lots of fun, and there are also stamps to used based on the theme you go for.
Interstar bricks 50 piece construction set: £19.99, Amazon
This is the toy that seemed to hold the attention of tester kids who were aged two-to-five for the longest period, as well as encouraging imaginative and solo play, which is vital in the early days. Interstar pieces can be built into hundreds of different options – especially with a 50 piece set: our testers made lots of different figures then put on a show. We liked this set because the bricks are larger than the likes of Lego, where you'd have to watch out when your newborn is crawling as the pieces are a choking hazard.
Writing For Tiny personalised milestone children’s book: £20 paperback, £22 hardback, Writing For Tiny
Our three-year-old new sibling tester really loved this book – you go online, choose your topic (as well as new sibling books, there are lots of other options, such as starting school, going into hospital, divorce, bad dreams, and more), then fill in lots of details about your existing child and any other siblings (up to four) plus other relatives you want to include, such as parents and grandparents, and any pets. Then you’re sent a very sweet book, with a plot all about the new baby’s arrival. The hardback is great quality and worth the extra £2 for the robustness. The story is very simple, but young kids loved it.
Love Tree Design big bro, lil bro or big sis, lil sis matching tops: £26, Love Tree Design
Everyone loves a mini-me, right? Our older sibling testers loved “twinning” with their little baby companion, and these sets are available in lots of formations – baby vests, larger tees, plus grey or navy colourways. The downside: you won’t get much quiet playing time out of matching outfits. The upside? They’ll look super cute.
The verdict: Presents for new siblings
Of all our testers’ reactions, the VTech camera really was the most popular present for under six's – it provided lasting fun, and if you also suggest a new baby scrapbook idea, they’ll have an Important job to fulfil in those tricky early weeks. Older kids might enjoy a simple digital camera that can do the same – but for younger ones, the Vtech’s robustness and features meant our testers loved it. Parents thought it was a top buy and offered good value for money.