In the last few years (let’s be honest, probably since the advent of Pinterest), it’s become a common tradition to have a gift for older siblings to open the day a new baby arrives. There are many great ideas out there to ease the transitions a baby brings and to help older siblings feel special on the big day. When I was pregnant with my second and searching for something to give my daughter, some of my favorites included scrubs to wear to the hospital to meet baby, fancy “grown-up” jewelry, and her own baby doll to take care of while I tended to her brother. I considered each of these, but ultimately decided on a gift that I hoped would serve the dual purpose of giving her something to open that day while also helping whoever was watching her while I labored to entertain her. I found a Frozen-themed tote to use for her “busy bag” and filled it with new toys, books, and snacks.
What I initially thought would be used mostly on the day I had her brother turned out to be even more helpful in the days and weeks after we brought baby home. I found myself saying multiple times a day (usually during those marathon newborn nursing sessions), “Go grab your busy bag and bring it in here to play with.” The newness of the toys and books it contained helped hold her interest and I was grateful for any moments of distraction I could snatch.
When we were planning to welcome baby number three in December I knew I wanted to make two more busy bags for our older kids. I found some cute drawstring bags on Amazon and set about filling them with items tailored to each kid’s interests. Here are a few ideas of what I included in mine:
Me Readers: These are my favorite part of the bags and are something I included in my daughter’s first one. They come with eight different books and a tablet type device that reads the books aloud. Kids select the picture that matches the book they want and then press a different shape to have each page read aloud. They are so much simpler to navigate than an audio book and kids can set the pace at which the narrator moves through the story. Both of my kids have been able to operate them independently since about two and a half and will frequently listen to all eight stories in one sitting.
Sticker books: Peeling stickers is a great fine motor activity!
Crayola Color Wonder books: Markers that only color on the coloring book pages?? Quite helpful for the times you are distracted by the newborn and can’t monitor a full-blown coloring session.
Brain Quest trivia cards: I remembered these trivia cards from when I was a kid and they’ve updated and expanded them since then. These are an easy item to hold and “quiz” your big kid with while mutli-tasking with a newborn.
Small toys, card games, puzzles, etc.: Tailor these to your child’s interest of the month (can you tell from the pictures above that we have a die hard My Little Pony fan?) and don’t forget about Target’s Dollar Spot or the Dollar Tree for cheap and diverting novelty games.
Snacks: I included some candy and snacks the kids don’t usually have to make it special and to serve as a Hail Mary item if all other distractions have fallen flat.