Preparing to bring a second baby home can be just as daunting as it was the first time around, but for totally different reasons. The moms who follow Pregnant Chicken are beautiful princess angels full of amazing tips and the most important reminder of all: You’ve totally got this.
Tips for Preparing Your Older Kids For a New Baby
Many of the pieces of advice moms had to share about preparing older kids were geared more towards toddler-aged siblings. For example:
Bring out baby gear like a swing or rocker a few months in advance.
Consider even putting a stuffed toy inside to get your kiddo used to seeing how it’s used so it’s not a novel item that they want to climb on and explore when a real baby is using it to sleep!
Practice with dolls and books.
Gift the big brother or sister a doll that they can tote around with them to get used to the idea of having a sibling. Read them books about becoming a big brother or big sister. There are all kinds of great stories out there, but this one by Mr. Rogers came highly recommended by at least one mama.
Have lots of talks with your current kid(s) about what kinds of things are safe for baby to eat to avoid any choking hazards in case they decide to try to “help” with feeding time. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that any small toys or food are out of reach once your curious baby is on the prowl to taste-test everything in sight, but it doesn’t hurt to have your older kids on the lookout, too!
Nail the sleep routine.
Try to get your child into a consistent sleep routine before the baby arrives, if possible. It will be a definite respite to have at least one kid who knows how to sleep through the night (unfortunately, babies are pretty shit at this).
Skip the heavy lifting.
If you’re planning to have a C-Section, get your big little (and yourself, to be honest) ready for the transition period of not being able to lift them up by helping them learn to do things like get in and out of their car seat, bed, or high chair independently. If this isn’t in the cards, get them in the habit of asking someone besides you to help them. Honestly, this was a challenge for me, but it’s definitely not worth blowing out your stitches or risking a re-visit to the hospital to lift your kiddo because you’re feeling guilty.
Tips For Meeting the New Baby
Meet the baby together.
“Meet” the new baby together with your first-born rather than having the baby in your arms when they arrive. While some moms liked the idea of having a nurse take the baby out of the room altogether, others suggested simply having the baby waiting with another caregiver or in the bassinet.
Have a gift from the baby.
The “gift from the baby” idea was another common suggestion that a lot of parents have found to be helpful. One mom told her first born that she had been shopping at the store and the baby kicked her in the tummy when it saw a toy it knew its older sibling would like (awwww). Regardless of what story you decide to share, a gift is always a nice little ice breaker and may even serve as a special memento years down the road of the day your kids first met.
Tips for Supporting Your Older Kids Once The Baby Has Arrived
Bringing home a new baby can be a bit of a shock for everyone, especially older siblings who are used to being the main cheese. A lot of moms had great tips for reassuring your older kids that they’re not being replaced or forgotten about.
Talk about how they feel.
Talk to your oldest about how they’re feeling and let them know that it’s okay if they are experiencing a range of emotions.
Telling baby to wait.
Make a point of “telling” your baby that they need to wait their turn while you are helping big brother or sister so that they don’t feel like they’re always the one being asked to have patience. Another great reminder for your big sibling is that moms take care of all of their kids. If you’re tied up with the baby, it’s great to let your older kid(s) know that as soon as you have a minute, you’ll make sure to help them out because the needs of all of your kids are equally important.
Kid holding rotation.
Take turns taking your older kid(s) on outings sans baby, even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store or for a walk after dinner. This gives you a chance to have some one-on-one time together, and also gives your partner an opportunity to bond with the baby when you head out.
Quiet time only bin.
Prepare special activity bags or boxes for your big kids that are reserved specifically for nursing, nap time, or any time you need quiet and/or distraction.
You’ve probably seen the meme of a little baby in its swing with a gate around it to “toddler-proof” the area. A lot of moms have sworn that this really does work!
The Best Equipment For Juggling More Than One Kid
My son was just two when my daughter came onto the scene, and before she was born I took to the Internet to see if a double stroller was really necessary. The answer was an emphatic yes, and I’m so glad I took the plunge. Going for walks with my kids was the easiest way to get us out of the house to stave off the cabin fever. (Meg over at Lucie’s List has an amazing post about picking the best double stroller.
Tons of moms agreed that having some kind of baby carrier to help you tote around your baby while chasing around your older kid is an absolute must.
Hand me downs.
Important money-saving reminder: Girls can wear blue! Boys can wear pink! Let your babe bask in the glory of hand-me-downs from older siblings.
Related: Second Time Mom Amazon List.
Good Reminders for Yourself
Nothing is normal at first.
Something SO IMPORTANT to remember about becoming a parent for the 1st, 2nd, or 500th time is that nothing is “normal” in the first few months. Try to resist the urge to compare your new situation to those of your fellow moms, or even your previous experiences bringing a baby home. Each of your kids has their own personality (obviously), which means that the dynamics of every transition will be different. Don’t feel bad about relaxing some of your previous rules and routines (like screen time, bed time, nap time, outings, workouts… you get the idea). Things will get back into a rhythm eventually, and it’s okay to spend a little bit of time figuring out what that’s going to look like.
Your love is multiplied, not divided.
I read somewhere that when you add a new child to your family, your love is multiplied – not divided. Any parent of more than one child can attest to the fact that this is 2000% true.
You are not alone if you find it tricky.
Some moms shared that bringing their second baby home was a difficult transition for them, not to scare future mamas of two, but to let them know that if they were finding things challenging, that they weren’t alone. If you’re having a hard time adjusting, give it time – you’ll find your groove soon enough, and until then, don’t feel guilty about a damn thing.
It may go smoothly.
On the other hand, quite a few moms shared that they found the move from one kid to two surprisingly smooth. With a little bit of confidence built up from your first go-around, things might actually seem easier than they did with your firstborn. Another good reminder is that (some) newborns sleep a lot for the first few months, giving you a bit of an adjustment period to get into the swing of things.
Make freezer meals ahead of time.
Cooking healthy(ish) meals for your family will be the last thing on your mind when you’re getting settled into your new normal. In addition to planning dinners, making things like pancakes, muffins and other healthy snacks and breakfast options is a great time-saver.
Stick with daycare.
If you can afford to do it, keep your older kids in daycare for as long as possible. The routine is healthy for your big kid, and having an opportunity to get your feet under you with your new baby is beneficial for you. Likewise, if it’s possible to hire a post-partum doula to help support with the new baby and household things like laundry, cleaning, and meals, do it and never look back!
Get a hand with housework.
In addition to hiring out care for your kids and yourself, if it’s within your means, paying someone to help with housework is an awesome investment. A lot of moms also swear by meal delivery services like Hello Fresh to take the hassle of meal planning and grocery shopping off of their plates (pardon the pun).
Order your groceries online for pick up or delivery so that you don’t have to deal with squirmy toddlers, germy carts and cranky babies in the store.
Say YES when someone offers to help you out.
Whether it’s a friend, parent, in-law, or stranger on the street (just kidding on that one). Having my mom come and stay for the first week or so was huge for me after bringing home my second-born, especially when it came to getting to doctor’s appointments, sneaking in naps and showers and entertaining my two-year old.
Let go of your expectations.
The laundry and dishes are allowed to pile up. You don’t have to shower, or even get out of your pajamas every day. The house might not be as clean as you’d like when people pop by. Finally, your post-baby body might not look the way it did after baby number one, and, like everything else mentioned here, that’s totally normal and totally fine.
Schedule a break.
Enforce nap time or quiet time in their room for your older kid after lunch to give yourself a bit of time to breathe.
Look for Mom’s Day Out programs near you to get a little bit of time to yourself during the week, and don’t feel guilty about it for one single second.
Mark it down.
Get a calendar or planner and hang it in an easy to see location so you don’t miss any important appointments or dates. It’s a lot harder to keep track of everything when you’re juggling multiple kids!
Do you have any tips that you swear by that didn’t make the list? Did some of the suggestions here save your life when you brought home your second baby? We want to hear it all in the comments!