Saying Hello to Baby
By Andrea Denish
“Nants’ ingonyama, bakithi, baba. Sithi hu ‘ngonyama.”
It’s the opening scene to Disney’s “The Lion King,” and Simba is being raised up high for all the jungle animals to see the future king. I tear up instantly whenever I watch this movie, recalling the moment my own babies were born. That day changed all the days that followed, and my priorities were reset toward two tiny packages of hope, expectation and promise.
The birth of a baby is a moment of enormous pride, and those first introductions to friends and family can set the tone for relationships between your child and loved ones, while how you share the news with your community can be a moment of celebration!
So, by all means, hop on the “circle of life” train and welcome your baby from the top of a mountain (or via a social media post for thousands of followers). Here’s how new parents can prepare for sharing the news for the first time, including how to encourage a special bond between your child and new baby.
Telling the Tale
Conversations following a new birth focus on who Baby looks like and the details of the birth itself. Swapping birth stories is a bonding experience for new parents. Friends and family will ask all kinds of questions, from when labor started to the moment you held your baby. Be ready to tell the story again and again. While the details are fresh and seem readily accessible right now, some memories will fade with time.
Write the experience in a journal or baby book to document for lasting recall. After all, one day it will be your child’s turn to become a parent and you will want to be one of the first to share in the storytelling.
The Changing Family Portrait
Baby with Grandma, Baby with Favorite Uncle, Baby with Big Cousin. Have your camera ready to go (no flash please) and collect photos like trading cards. Baby’s arrival will produce a shift in the family dynamic and cause members to examine their roles and responsibilities. A changing family role is especially significant for children. My twins were born prematurely and had to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). My young niece, Emily, had been preparing for the twins’ arrival for months, but visitation in the NICU was limited.
Several days into my twins’ hospital stay, Emily was brought to the NICU window and the wonderful nurses held each of my little ones up for her to see. Emily waved and said their names. This first introduction was a moment I will never forget and one that my kids were able to watch on video years later to see their relationship from the very beginning.
First meetings like this are so emotionally moving. I wanted to capture that feeling in my children’s book, “The Way We Say Hello” (Starry Forest Books, 2023). The story follows a young child on a journey to find the best way to greet a new sibling. Readers learn global languages, gestures and a little bit of history. The main character makes a welcome sign for the baby before the two siblings share a sweet hello. If you have a child who is about to become a big sister, big brother or big cousin, talk with them about how they would like to say hello to the baby.
Children may choose to sing a song, recite a poem or even create a handmade gift.
Celebrating the first meeting with a special hello will go a long way in setting the tone for a lifelong friendship.
Andrea Denish is a children’s book author and mother of twins. She works at the library near her home in Abington, Pennsylvania. Follow her and find “The Way We Say Hello” by Andrea Denish and BlueBean on andreadenish.com. and at your favorite independent bookstore.