Congratulations! You just found out that you’re expecting…again!
If your reaction was anything like mine, the little plus sign on the pregnancy test brought me a wave of joy and excitement, quickly followed by a mini freak out.
How exciting! A baby, my toddler and my new little one will be best friends and think of those tiny little fingers…wait…two?! How am I going to manage two of them?!
I eventually figured out that, like my first, I would take it one day at a time, and this time I would be able to use the knowledge that I gained from my first to help me prepare for my second.
So, in the interest of sharing from my experience, here is a list of important ways to prepare for your second baby.
1. Let Go of the Guilt.
One thing I cannot stress enough mammas is to please let go of any guilt that you may have.
I remember being plagued by feelings of guilt when I first found out that I was pregnant. My daughter wasn’t even two yet, and I was already bringing another baby into the family.
I found myself worried about managing my pregnancy and my busy and active toddler successfully. I was concerned that my fatigue and morning sickness would rob her of time with me and that I would have to change her routines that she was so accustomed to. Would she feel replaced or stressed when we brought a new baby home?
These questions—and about 10 others—stressed me, and my mom guilt was gnawing at me. So, my advice for anyone expecting their second baby is this: Let it go. Just let those terrible feelings go. It doesn’t do you any good.
The truth is, as a first-born child myself, I wasn’t irreparably damaged from sharing time, attention and toys with my siblings and my daughter won’t be either. I don’t remember feeling stressed, so any stress in our household and change of routine won’t make a lasting impression.
I am sure that I will mess her up in other ways, however, giving her a sibling isn’t going to be one of them. So take a breath momma and relax. Stress isn’t good for anyone. You’re not going to miss any huge milestones from dealing with morning sickness and your oldest won’t be developmentally delayed if they watch an extra television program while you lay on the couch to rest.
At the end of the day, your child will adjust and be just fine.
2. Prepare Your Child for Their New Sibling.
My daughter wasn’t quite two, so we did our best in explaining that she would have a new brother or sister coming soon and helped prepare her for a new sibling in the family. It’s important to note that while many of these things are universal across various ages, there will be varying needs depending on the age of your child.
For us, it was important that we talk to her about the baby and prepare her for this in a fun way We talked about the baby and had her practice holding a baby with her stuffed animals. Reading books about babies and becoming a sibling that catered to children her age also helped.
Here are a few fun ways to keep older siblings excited about the new arrival:
• Have them be part in the gender reveal—if you’re finding out.
Make sure you have a gift for them at any showers or parties that you have where the baby is the center of attention.
Have a small big boy/girl gift ready for when they come to meet the baby.
3. Do Something Special with Your Oldest.
When you have a newborn, it’s hard to do the same things when you only had your older child. It may be awhile before you can take your toddler out to the movies or the zoo—so make sure that you do something fun with your child—one last time before things change a lot.
4. Plan a Baby Budget.
Babies are expensive! Expecting a second child can bring financial stress to a young family.
Calculating the costs of diapers, feedings (formula or breastfeeding necessities), clothing, child car, can be overwhelming during any pregnancy. Especially when you’re expecting your second child. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to prepare for the arrival of your little one.
Deciding if you’re planning on using formula or breastfeeding can have a huge impact on your baby budget. Nursing tends to be less expensive, but isn’t always an option or a desire of some moms.
If you are formula feeding, you don’t want to stockpile ahead of time since there is alway a chance that your baby won’t be able to tolerate a certain brand, or it can expire before your baby is born. I recommend putting some money aside with each paycheck to help offset costs later.
You’ll also remember from your first baby that newborns go trough diapers like they’re free, which they most definitely aren’t.
A great way to prepare for your second baby is to clip coupons and start buying diapers as early as possible and stockpile whenever they’re on sale. This time, you already know which sizes babies typically spend the most time in: size 1, 3 and 5. You can start stocking up now and take advantage of sales and coupons for months in advance of your baby’s birth.
Another way to help stock up on diapers is to host a diaper party. Since you probably already have most of the baby essentials, many second-time parents will choose to celebrate their second born with a smaller party for diapers instead of clothes or baby gear like at a typical shower.
The idea is you host a party or barbecue and all your friends’ “admission” is a pack of diapers. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to get your stockpile going.
5. Arrange Babysitting for Your Older Child.
When the time comes to go to the hospital, you need to have someone who can take care of your older child, whether it be in the middle of the night or during the day. Either have one of your parents come to stay early or talk to some of your friends or neighbors that you trust who would be willing to watch your little one until you come home. For our first child, we had a list of a few relatives and friends that we trusted who were willing to watch her no matter when we had to go to the hospital.
6. Pack a Bag for Your First Child.
If you’re child is staying with someone while you’re at the hospital, it’s a good idea to pack a bag for them because you don’t know how long your labor will last, how long your child will nee to be babysat for, or if you will go into labor during the day or night. I packed a bag for our daughter that had a pair of day clothes, a pair of pajamas, diapers, wipes, snacks and a sippy cup. This way, it won’t matter what time of day you go into labor and you won’t have to grab everything at the last minute for your older child when you’re worrying about other things.
7. Make a Schedule of Your Child’s Day
Obviously, everything isn’t going to be followed when you take your child to someone else’s home or have someone come watch them, but it would be easier for whoever is watching your child while you’re in the hospital to know what a typical day looks like for your child. This is especially important if you have a toddler and you generally have them follow a daily routine. This can include things like when your child wakes up, eats, takes naps, and goes to bed. You should also realize that this schedule may not be followed perfectly and that is okay. I knew that when I dropped my daughter off at our friends, that her schedule there would be different than her schedule at home, but at least they would have an idea of what she was used to, especially in regard to when she took her nap and went to bed.
Make sure to include other helpful information. I included additional information such as when she takes her pacifier, when she takes milk in a sippy, what some words are that she says that we know, but other people probably couldn’t figure out. If your child has any allergies or takes medication, please provide this information to your sitter. I included both my phone number and my husband’s phone number, because when I wrote this info down, I didn’t know who would be watching our daughter and I didn’t know if they would have both our numbers. This gave me peace of mind knowing that they knew how to get in touch with us should anything go wrong. Having this all written down before you go into labor makes it easier for you to just drop your child off and go instead of having to try and remember anything important tat your sitter may need to know. Because if that is what you try to do, I guarantee that you will forget something.
8. Get Everything You Need from Storage.
This includes items like baby clothes, the car seat, and that sort of thing. I’m assuming that since your kids will be at least nine months apart—or probably more—you put things in storage. So before your second baby is born, take those things out, assembled and ready to go.
9. Wash Things That Have Been in Storage for a Long Time.
I put all our baby items in storage to make room for all my first child’s toddler stuff. I brought out the baby clothing, bibs and burp rags, blankets and a few big items that I wanted to spot clean like the bouncer, bassinet and car seat. You want to make sure that everything is fresh and clean for your new little one.
And make sure to sterilize bottles and pacifiers
All you have to do is boil them in water and let them dry and you are done. Easy peasy, and you don’t have to buy more.
10. Make Sure Things Work
You’ll want to make sure things like your baby monitor and bouncer work or need their batteries replaced. Check anything that is battery-operated and see if the batteries need replacing. It’s good to have extra batteries on hand so that you don’t have to run to the store when they go out. You don’t want to be stuck with a broken baby monitor or baby bouncer that won’t work and no batteries when you bring your new baby home.
11. Register for Anything You May Need
You’ll already have most things that you’ll need, but it’s good to go over anything that you may still need. If you’re planning on having a baby shower—or diaper shower—or if you just want a way to tell your family what you need, registering for those items is a good idea.
12. Check Your Insurance
Just because you had coverage or know what benefit you had with your first child, it doesn’t mean things will be the same with your second baby. It’s a good idea to make sure that you know what will be covered and what you may end up paying for. Preparation is always key.
13. Check the Expiration on Your Car Seat
Just in case you’re not aware, car seats expire. If you’re planning on using your first child’s infant car seat for your second child, you should definitely want to look and see when it expires. It usually says on the side or the back of the car seat when it expires, so you’ll want to check that. Most car seats expire after 6 years, but you should still check your particular car seat.
14. Research Double Strollers
If you are still using a stroller for your first child, you may need to get a double stroller. It’s a good idea to research which double stroller is best and what you want to buy. Ask for recommendations from friends and look on Amazon for reviews from other moms.
15. Stock Up on Essentials.
Make sure that you have enough items like toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, detergent and other items that you use every day. Doing this will help prevent the need to run to the store when you run of things. Of course, you can’t do this with food or perishable items, but stocking up on personal and household items can hel make your trips to the grocery store shorter. You can also check out Amazon Pantry for essentials that are delivered straight to your home. This is a good idea if you really don’t want to have to go shopping with a toddler and newborn.
What tips do you have to prepare for your second child?
Hello, I’m Kelly, a regular contributor on this blog. I live in Pennsylvania with my loving husband and our five beautiful children. I have a background in early childhood education, but I am currently homeschooling my kids. From pregnancy to postpartum to toddler life, I love sharing advice with other moms who are having a challenging time with this crazy but wonderful role of motherhood.
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