You’ve already had one baby, so you’ve got this whole parenting thing down, right? Well, not exactly. When you have a second child, things are a little different. When you were pregnant with your first, you could rest whenever you wanted, and you had all the time in the world to decorate the nursery. Now you’re trying to manage morning sickness and buying baby items while tending to an energetic and demanding toddler.
When preparing for a second baby with a toddler, there are some things you can do to help your toddler ease into this transition.
The best thing you can do is talk to your child. Read your child books on becoming a big sibling, or get them a doll to practice feeding and changing a baby. A word of caution: don’t tell them too soon. Nine months is a long time. The baby will take away your attention once he or she arrives, so there’s no need to start talking about a baby as soon as you get a positive pregnancy test. Some moms wait until they start showing. Whenever you decide to talk about it, tell your child how fun and awesome being a big sibling is, and that you’ll still love them and have plenty of time for them.
If you don’t already, invest in toys that your child can play with on their own and will occupy their time long enough for you to at least feed the baby. Some parents have the baby give their big sibling a gift to help them (hopefully) bond.
Before springing a two-day, overnight visit to Aunt Sarah’s house on your child, have a practice run in the weeks leading up to your hospital stay. This will help prepare your child if they’re not used to spending the night away from home and give you some alone time to rest and prep for the new baby.
Newborns require a lot of attention. So before you get too tired and pregnant, plan a special day out with your soon-to-be big kid. Whether it’s going to the aquarium or shopping at Target and letting them pick out a new toy, your child will love the quality time spent with you. You both will.
Your firstborn isn’t the only one preparing for a second baby. Make sure you’re physically and emotionally preparing for a second baby as well.
Running to the store for toothpaste at 8 a.m. with a cranky toddler and newborn is the last thing you want to do. If it’s in your budget, stock up on household basics, like laundry detergent, paper towels, and toilet paper, before the baby’s arrival.
You’ll be in survival mode the first few weeks (maybe months), and that’s OK! It’s fine if you let your child eat crackers on the couch while you breastfeed. It’s fine if your toddler wears their pajamas on that first trip to the grocery store with your newborn. And don’t feel like a failure just because your child watches two movies in one day. It’s all about survival at this point.
Will my first child resent me or not feel loved enough? Can I love this new baby as much as I love my baby now? All moms have these concerns. You may feel overwhelmed at times but never worry about being resented or not loving either of your children enough. A sibling is the best gift you can give your child, and it’s amazing how natural it is to love all your kids.
Preparing for a second child doesn’t just mean getting your house in order and older child ready. It’s also about giving your partner the love and attention they need. Because alone time with two kids? It’ll likely be months before that happens again. So take advantage now, and go eat at your favorite restaurant.
Want even more tips on preparing for a second child? Check out these posts on how to prevent your baby from getting sick and outings you can do with a newborn. We know this isn’t your first rodeo, but it’s always nice to have a little refresher before having another baby.