PREPARING FOR YOUR SECOND BABY WITH A TODDLER
TRANSITIONING FROM ONE CHILD TO TWO – A GREAT ADVENTURE!
A second baby seemed like such a great idea, right? (Or, maybe like me, a second baby was just happening, regardless of if you had any idea about it or not!)
One second you were reminiscing about the days of rocking a sweet baby to sleep and the next you were staring at a positive pregnancy test. Now, all of a sudden you are hyperventilating, imagining your first child weeping uncontrollably thinking you abandoned him. (You’re pregnant. It’s ok to be irrational.)
Deep breaths, mama. Preparing for your second baby with a toddler can seem exhausting. And frankly—it is. Not just physically, but emotionally. However, as a mom who has been there and felt that, I promise having a second baby with a toddler is going to be okay! Here’s what you need to know about preparing for a second baby with a toddler.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR TODDLER ABOUT A NEW BABY
It’s easy enough to know how to share your happy news with friends and family, but how to talk to a toddler about a new baby can make your head hurt a little. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Read books together. Thankfully, you are not the only person out there having a second baby! There are a ton of excellent books on the market, including a few of my favorites, The New Baby and the aptly named I am a Big Brother or I am a Big Sister.
- Play pretend. Let your toddler pick out a “baby” of their own, and pretend to feed them, change their diaper and rock them to sleep. Constancy is key here—toddlers love to imitate.
- Spend time with newborns. Chances are, someone else in your circle has a new baby you can let your toddler meet. If you don’t know anyone IRL, even pointing out a baby at the supermarket will do. Explain that soon they’ll have a baby like that to help take care of too!
- Keep your routines. As tempting as it can be to avoid having two in diapers, now may not be the time to really push potty training. There are a lot of other big changes going on for your little one, so be patient. (I also remained DILIGENT about naps and sleeping routines.)
- Offer lots of affection. It isn’t just the new baby that can be a difficult concept to grasp—it’s the fact that mommy isn’t feeling well during pregnancy or your toddler can no longer curl up into your lap as easily. Offer plenty of affection and cuddles to help.
WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A SECOND BABY?
Now, onto the practicals. What do you need when you are having a second baby? This depends on so many factors, but in general, these are good things to have on hand:
- Breastfeeding supplies or formula – this includes dusting off your pump and making sure it is still in working order, or getting a new one, stocking up on formula and those teeny tiny bottles, etc.
- Diapers and wipes – one perk to two kids in diapers is they can share the same wipes! Diapers, however, are a whole different story. Whether you plan on disposable or cloth diapers, stock up with plenty (remember, newborns go through about 8-12 diapers per DAY).
- Onesies and sleepers – in case you have forgotten (and who would blame you!), 90% of the time your little one will be rocking a onesie or a sleeper. So stock up!
- A car seat – if you don’t already have a separate infant seat, you will obviously need a new one. If you are re-using an infant car seat belonging to your firstborn, make sure you check the expiration date. Better safe than sorry!
- Stroller for two – believe me, there will come a time when you will get out of the house again. And yes, with two children! It’s time to ditch your single stroller for a double model—there are some really great choices out there these days. We tried to go without a double stroller, and it was a mistake. We now have one and we love it.
- A second high chair – your toddler will be using a high chair until around age 2-3, so for many, you can skip the second high chair and instead get a booster seat. But either way, both your kiddos will eventually need somewhere to sit and eat.
- Baby carrier – this is a great way to play with your toddler while still getting cuddle time with your sleeping little one. (It also might be the ONLY way you can do simple things like keep the house clean with TWO kids.)
- A bassinette or second crib – your toddler might be using his or her own crib for a while, so you’ll need to find somewhere else for baby to sleep. This could be a bassinette, a Moses basket or simply another crib.
Related: 5 Things I Did Different With Baby #2 (to make life so much easier)
And, of course, feel free to stock up on super cute baby clothes, regardless if your babies will share a gender or not. It’s fun to shop for baby clothes after all—it’s part of the fun of having a second baby! 🙂
WHAT TO DO WITH FIRST BABY DURING BIRTH OF SECOND
You’ve prepared your toddler, you’ve shopped for your second baby, now you have to figure out what to do while you are literally having a second baby with a toddler in the picture. Again, this is subjective, but you know your kid best. Chances are your toddler is too young to see his or her mama in the distress of labor—in fact, it might be downright terrifying.
Related: Hands Down Best Labor Advice
The last thing you want in the throws of labor is to see your shell-shocked, screaming toddler wailing for his mom.
For that reason, I recommend having someone on call to watch your toddler during birth (and maybe even for a few days afterword).
Whether it’s a grandparent or best friend, having someone in place to watch your firstborn while you are having a second baby will take a huge weight off your shoulders. In fact, I’d recommend having two or three people lined up, just in case.
Of course, you will want to bring your toddler to the hospital (or home if you opt for a homebirth) to meet your newest addition sooner rather than later. But it truly is a win-win for your eldest to be loved on and played with while you labor rather than stuck in a hospital waiting room. Additionally, you may appreciate a few extra days outside of the hospital to adjust to your new addition before welcoming your toddler home with open arms.
PREPARING FOR POSTPARTUM RECOVERY WITH A TODDLER
Yes, you’ve recovered from delivery before. But that was without a 20-something pound little person screaming and pulling on you constantly. Yup, having a second baby with a toddler is a whole different game.
First of all, try to prepare all you can before delivery. Nesting is great, because who doesn’t want to see perfectly polished baseboards, but try to channel that energy into something a bit more practical if you can. For example, try making a freezer full of easy meals that can be quickly reheated in a pressure cooker or crockpot.
Related: Postpartum Care Checklist
Secondly, try to help the stars align and come up with a schedule that allows both your children to sleep at the same time. Granted, that entire sleep while the baby is sleeping mentality goes out the window with a toddler, but if you can get them both asleep for a good 1-2 hours, you better dive under those covers too!
Keep in mind your postpartum body also needs to heal. If you have delivered via cesarian, it may be weeks before you can pick up your toddler again, so instead, get creative. Have your toddler come lay with you and cuddle on the bed, or let them climb up onto the couch for some mommy time.
Related: Speed Up Postpartum Recovery
Lastly, take advantage of any help you can get. If your spouse is able to take off work, put him to work! If your mother-in-law offers a hand, take her up on it. Even asking a friend to come pick up your toddler for a play date can buy you a precious chunk of time to rest.
Just remember, mommy, that cheesy sayings stick around because they are true! Your love won’t divide—it’ll multiply when having a second baby. 🙂 You’ll see!