Preparing for a second baby should feel easier than the first. The stress of not knowing anything has gone but introduces additional problems and worries.
Some of these worries include:
- How will your first baby react?
- Where will the second baby sleep?
- Where am I going to put all their clothes and necessities?
- Who will look after my child while I’m in labour?
- Will my child sleep if my second baby is crying?
- Will my first child feel neglected/jealous?
- Can I love both of these children the same?
- How will I divide my time?
These are a few of the questions that have been troubling us, so we have been doing some first-hand research by speaking to many parents, some with numerous kids; as well as lots of online research. Through this post on preparing for a second baby – there’s one place where all your questions are answered.
Being a parent is stressful enough, so let’s work together to make sure we have all the answers and support we could need.
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10 Steps to preparing for a second baby
1. Introduce the idea
How will your first child respond to the idea of having a sibling?
The reality is that it will be different from child to child and age and temperament can play a big role in how accepting they are. Also how everyone around them is talking about the new addition to the family.
When preparing for a second baby, try not to take too much attention away from your firstborn. We want to get them excited rather than having them dread your due date.
From our discussions with other parents, we decided to introduce the idea by means of a book. My sister suggested, “There’s a house inside my mummy” which we introduced periodically. We got her excited about the baby that came at the end and tried to get her to understand how excited the brother was in the story.
We then lead on with did you know there’s a baby in mummy’s tummy as well and would occasionally talk about it.
This became easier as her mummy started to get bigger, then we could reference different parts in the book, like the mummy also getting bigger, being more tired, always hungry and strange food combinations. The correlations between the book and real-life made it easier for her to understand.
As the months continue, you can start talking about her being a big sister and what it means. Give her examples of siblings that she might know and that they were once babies as well. Include the expectations of an older sibling and how it’s important that they help to look after them, keep them safe and teach them how to be good.
The idea of that responsibility has really started to make her feel grown up and has started to improve her behaviour.
Depending on the age of the first child, you could introduce the idea of siblings sooner, but if your first is quite young, many of the parents suggested holding off.
2. Include the second baby
How do I include the unborn baby into our daily life?
Having a second baby with a toddler can be worrying, but including the baby in what you say and do doesn’t have to be difficult. It could be as simple as giving mummy and baby a cuddle.
Here are some ideas of how to get your toddler involved in preparing for a second baby:
- Rather than just singing songs, get your toddler/child to sing a song to baby
- Show them scan pictures of their sibling to get them excited
- Get them to pick baby a gift
- Let them help to sort out the baby’s clothes
- Get them to feel baby kicking
- Tell them all the things that they’ll get to do with baby
- What does it mean to be an older sibling?
Since doing all of these things, our daughter who initially would say her name, followed by “mummy and daddy are family”, has now started naturally including ‘baby’ into the family. She says she loves ‘baby’ and tries to feel him moving.
3. Where will they sleep?
How can I fit two children into the space I have?
If you don’t have much room or you have too much stuff, you might be worrying about where your newborn will sleep after the first few months. This is something we’ve been struggling with.
When your first child seems to dislike sleep and as a result sleeps with one eye open, anticipating all the fun stuff that might be happening. You might be reluctant to put them in a room together.
The thought of two awake children in our sleep-deprived state sends chills down my spine!
So what do we do to get ready for a second baby?
If you’re renting and don’t have enough space, you might consider looking for somewhere bigger, just make sure it’s in budget as you don’t want the stress of having to find money you don’t have while on maternity.
If you own your own home and don’t have much space, the idea of buying somewhere new can be daunting and in many cases unnecessary.
If you have a spare room, but it’s already in use, you could, dare I say it, throw some things out. If you struggle with this, the book ‘The life-changing magic of tidying’ will help.
On the off chance that you can’t get rid of the stuff, selling isn’t an option – you could always consider home improvements. Perhaps going up into the loft or extending downstairs if you have space and the money.
In most cases, however, preparing for a second baby usually means preparing both yourself and your toddler/child for a new baby.
Check out our list of recommended products that will help to encourage sleep for both children. In this circumstance, we would really recommend the white noise machine, in the hope that it’ll drown out the crying a bit.
Other things you could do would be to make sure your toddler is following a good routine that will help them to sleep longer and more soundly, meaning they’re less likely to wake up.
Also, apply a day and night routine to your new addition once they reach around 4 months and make sure you follow a good sleep schedule. This will really help to overcome sleeping issues.
4. Storing double the clothes
Where can I store this amount of clothes with little space?
Our daughter had tons of clothes, I literally had to give up my whole wardrobe so we’d have somewhere to store all her things! Poor me… This time we’ve decided to take a different approach. A space-saving approach.
To prepare for our second child, we’ve decided to buy fewer clothes. Which seems like a dreadful idea because they go through so many of them.
The truth is, with our first child, it was all so overwhelming! We seemed to rarely do laundry because it took us ages to figure out how to get her to sleep, meaning we were zombies most of the days!
As time has progressed, we do laundry all the time, so much so that most of our toddler’s clothes don’t get worn… She wears her favourites most of the time.
Increasing the amount of laundry we do will be a massive space saver for baby number two, which is incredibly important if like us, it’s running out.
5. Options for child care
Having a second baby with a toddler brings the question:
Who will look after my toddler/child while I’m in labour?
What if you don’t have any support? Parents live far away, no siblings or just bad relationships? What do you do?
Well firstly, congratulations, you are a hero for surviving your first experience at being a parent without a support network. Hats off to you!
It is time to start roping in your friends, or at least their friend’s parents! It’s time to start making connections and building relationships. ‘No man is an Island’, it takes a village to raise a child. Or at least people to look after yours.
This could be a really good opportunity for you to get some help, as well as have someone to watch your kid(s) while you have your baby.
But what do you do if your kid isn’t used to spending time away from you?
6. Get used to sleep-overs
What do I do if my child isn’t used to spending time away from us?
This can be something that is very fun for them and a great opportunity for you! Preparing for a second baby is also about preparing your toddler to be resilient.
Start off with getting someone else to put them to sleep at home, a close friend or a relative, someone they like. As time goes on, you can introduce the idea of them sleeping at that person’s house.
Try to make this seem as exciting as possible, but I can’t stress enough that they need to have a fantastic relationship with that person. It will turn from a sleepover to a cry over and they’ll never want to go back, for fear that you’re going to leave them there!
7. Get help
How willl I cope with such a small amount of time?
Being a parent is hard, time-consuming and a challenge most of the time. It is also incredibly rewarding… Can’t forget to throw in a positive, I mean it is great. But we need to find ways to make it easier. To do this, we need to elicit the help of others.
Having a tidy house with a toddler is a challenge. Having a tidy and clean house is even more challenging! You need to consider how much your time and sanity are worth. For us, especially during the newborn stage, we would look at getting help.
It might be worth employing people to make your life easier. I.e. Cleaner, gardener, someone to do your ironing if you need it. This will give you the opportunity to sleep and focus on your children.
During your pregnancy, it would be a good idea to start putting aside additional funds to help make your maternity easier.
8. Avoiding jealousy
What can I do to avoid my first child feeling jealous of their new sibling?
It is hard when you get something new to not give it loads of attention. A nice new pair of headphones, a new laptop, clothing… A new baby is no different.
You did it the first time around and that was great, the only problem is that this time around you already have a child that is used to getting most of your attention, if not all…
So what do we do?
Well firstly, inform friends and family to try to quell their excitement around them, they won’t be used to not being the centre of attention. Make the excitement of their new sister about them, talk about them being an older sibling and how great it will be for them.
Make sure when their sister is born that you still spend lots of one-to-one time with them. Don’t stop the activities you used to do together, also don’t always try to involve their new sister. Show them they’re still incredibly important!
Make an effort to continue praising them for the normal things as well as their positive attitude towards their sister. You can also employ an achievement board with stickers that visually show how awesome they are.
Try to make them feel special. This could be through occasional gifts, outings and your time, which is the most valuable thing you could give them.
Most of all, try not to act as though nothing has changed. You will need to acknowledge their BIG feelings. Life as they know it has changed forever and they’ll need to talk about it. Ignoring it will likely cause them to act out.
9. Loving the same
Will I love them the same?
The short answer is probably, yes.
There is a big difference between ‘love’ and ‘like’. There will be times when you will like one child more than your other child, honestly, I think that’s natural. In the same way, you might like one parent more than the other or one sibling more. This doesn’t change your love for them or what you’d do to protect them.
If I had to rate my fears in order of what was putting me off having a second kid, this would be number one! But after speaking to numerous parents about this, I feel a little clearer and better about it.
We’re all different and tend to like people we have more in common with, and that’s fine. The truth is that as your children grow, who you like the most will change all the time, and who they like the most will change too.
They will both perform behaviours that you dislike, but also behaviours that make you incredibly proud and happy. Unfortunately, you have to take the good with the bad, just remember, that ‘love’ and ‘like’ are two different things!
When preparing for a second baby, it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up about the things that are out of your control.
10. Dividing my time
How do you divide your time when you’re currently time poor?
After having a new baby, you’re probably going to experience shiny object syndrome. You’ll want to hold them all the time, spend a lot of time with them caring for them and fulfilling their needs. But you can’t!
Perhaps with your first, you spend a lot of time as a three. You have two children and you’ll need to divide your time. Your first child will be used to having all your attention, don’t change this straight away, it’s something that needs to be altered over time.
One-to-one time with both children is a great way to sort this. Do something fun with your older child that will distract and bring them happiness. Then swap with your partner, taking turns. This way you’ll get to spend quality time with both children.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll always have to divide your time, a newborn is pretty easy to bring around with you without much fuss. There’ll be obvious breaks for milk and nappy changes, but working as a team will make this a lot easier.
As your baby grows, their demands grow as well. Try to stay on top of this as a team and do your best to read the situation.
Now there is double the trouble, you’ll both need to put in equal amounts of effort to balance the needs of both children.
Try your best, but remember, having a second baby with a toddler generally isn’t going to be easy.
Following these 10 different steps to success will make it a lot easier when preparing for a second baby. Having a baby in itself is difficult, but having a second baby with a toddler will be even more of a challenge.
Take your time and give them both the attention, love and affection they’ll need and avoid all the troubles that come with introducing a second child.