So let’s talk baby number two. Preparing for your second baby when you have a toddler looks a bit different than your first. Toddlers demand a lot of attention (Nope, not just a newborn thing) so being pregnant while parenting one may have its challenges. But as a mom of five I am here to give all the tips/tricks and hacks I’ve learned along the way.
Adding baby #2 when your first is still a toddler does not have to be as difficult as it sounds. Preparing yourself and your toddler mentally, physically and emotionally are keys to making this transition go smoothly.
Benefits of Having a Second Child (Especially if Your First Is Still a Toddler)
Are there really any benefits to having another baby when your eldest child is still a toddler? Depending on who you talk to this could be a yes or a no. But for me, it will always be a yes.
- Probably the best benefit is your little helper! Toddlers love to help. Having your oldest get baby brother a diaper or help put baby sister to sleep is fun for them and often a great bonding experience for the both of you.
- They will have a forever playmate. In the earlier years it may not seem like it. But once your baby gets on the move the fun really begins. As each child’s independence grows their need for you to entertain them will lessen. Making room for a beautiful sibling relationship to flourish.
- You can get it over with quickly. And by it, I mean having children. If your plan is to only have two children, having another baby with also having a toddler means your pregnancy days are over quicker. I’ve never been one of those moms that enjoyed pregnancy so for me, getting it over with as quickly as possible is the goal.
How to Prepare for Baby #2 When You Have a Toddler
Once you’ve made the decision to try for number two, there are a few savvy ways to prepare your family before the madness officially begins. Preparing for a second baby (not at all speaking from the perspective of someone whose child may have health/medical concerns) is actually easier.
Prepare Yourself Mentally and Emotionally for Change
So you’ve been here and done that. Having a newborn is a walk in the park for you now. Installing a baby carrier, you got that! Wrestling a stroller out the trunk of your car and winning, piece of cake. And anything else that infants need, you are one confident momma. And at this point you know what works for you and what doesn’t. So preparing for a new baby will be easier than the first go around. But that doesn’t mean it won’t come with some issues. So let’s jump into what you can do to make this time with your newborn (and toddler) easier:
Postpartum recovery when you have a toddler is different. Yeah, that’s what we’ll call it. When you had your eldest you had chances to relax. Take a nap if you needed to, slow down a bit and take things slow like your doctor recommended. But now, not so much. Toddlers are like little balls of energy. All day long they are running around. Mommy let’s play this. I want to go here! Mommy can we have fun there? It can literally seem never ending. Add in recovering from giving birth, c-section or vaginal, and things can get overwhelming really fast.
So make a postpartum recovery plan. Similar to your birthing plan, but ya know, for after. Include things like who will help you during the day with your oldest. Maybe grandma comes over and plays with the newest addition so you two can get some one on one time. Or perhaps dad takes big brother or big sister to the grocery store while you get in a quick nap. Try to plan for dinner as well. When we had our second baby my mom cooked and froze meals for two weeks. Having food that I could easily warm up whenever my son was hungry was life saving.
How to Tell Your Toddler About the New Baby
I can’t stress enough how important this is. Not only will it make things easier for you in the long run. I mean, I have yet to meet anyone who likes having major life changes thrown at them last minute. But it will also help your toddler adjust quicker and feel more in control of things once the baby arrives.
No need to stress, telling your toddler about the new baby can be such a fun moment. Here are some ideas on how to make it easier for the both of you:
- Turn it into a thing. Like a major thing. Similar to how gender reveal parties are widely popular right now, why not make it a party when you tell your toddler about the new baby. Cake and ice cream always make everything better, in my opinion.
- Take them with you to the doctor to hear the baby’s heartbeat or see the ultrasound. I’ve noticed the younger the child the harder for them to fully understand that momma has a baby in her belly. But seeing is believing so taking them with these special moments helps them process it that much easier.
- My personal favorite, sitting them down and explaining it to them on their terms. Never having been one to hide things from my kids, or talk to them in a “kidly” way I have always just sat my oldest down and told them. I try to be as scientific as possible when answering questions, but still making sure to keep it at a level they can understand. I have found this to fare way better later on when their questions get a little bit more complicated. Or they start to piece things together.
What to Do with Your First Child During the Birth of Your Second
This has always been a hard one for me. For each of my children it has been a tad different too. My oldest was with his grandmother the day my daughter was born. But when my third child was born my oldest two were there in the waiting room of the hospital. They weren’t allowed in the actual room until after the baby and I were deemed safe, but they were there nonetheless. But I think my favorite experience has to be with my youngest. Born via VBAC at a birthing center all four of my children were there to witness it. From the start of my labor to him reaching earthside, my children were a part of it all. They helped, asked questions, were increasingly loud (LOL) but overall were a joy to have there with me in such an important moment.
With that being said, I say do what works for you. And depending on where you plan to deliver, what is allowed. Having your toddler there could be a complete distraction and make your experience bad. Or it could be the best thing ever and make it that much more enjoyable. That’s something only you would be able to answer. I’ve done both and if I were to have another baby, I’d have all my children there again. Hands down.
How to Cope with a Toddler and a Newborn
That’s why you’re really here, right? Wanting to know how to handle having a toddler and baby #2? I may not have all the answers, but I can tell you this, you’re going to do fine. The very fact that you are reading this blog tells me that. Yes, there will be days that are harder than most. Days you want to give up and just throw in the towel. But there things will start to fall together and you’ll get a flow and all will be well.
In the meantime, adjusting your expectations is going to be key. Remember that having a newborn around again is new for everyone. Your toddler, you, and your partner are all going through this first together. Give out grace like Oprah used to give out cars on her Christmas specials (Did I just age myself, lol).
Take things slow. Not every day is going to go as planned. In my experience, having little to no plans and taking things one step at a time gives everyone in the family the most room for success. It also allows for moments when your first born needs a little extra attention.
Your Relationship with Your First Child After Your Second Arrives
Your heart expands. I don’t know how to explain it, but it does. The love you feel for your first born will never change but there will be this new love. It won’t compete with the love you have for your toddler; they will just go hand in hand. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. Now that the most important part is out of the way, lets talk quality time.
Having a toddler and a baby may seem like one would have to suffer while you play with the other. But that simply is not true. Figuring out how to spend time with your toddler and a newborn may seem like a balancing act most days, but with time things adjust. Making special moments with your toddler when the baby is sleep is a great way to get some quality time. Or, since the baby will be younger, having them in their swing (or bouncer) while you get on the floor and tickle your toddler to death is another fun way to engage with your first born.
Thoughts You May Secretly Be Having (& My Tips as a Mom of 5)
Now let’s get to the things no one wants to talk about but should be.
Is it hard having 2 babies under 2?
Yes. Is it harder then having one? That is relative. I’ll say in the beginning of course. Its an adjustment. You’re getting used to having a newborn again. Your toddler is adjusting to having a sibling and the baby is adjusting to life outside of the womb. But once that adjustment period is over things just fall into place. You get a flow and you can’t even remember life without your two piece.
But what about labor?
Is labor easier with a second baby?
They say each labor gets shorter with each pregnancy. For me, this was somewhat true, I guess. It would depend on what you consider labor. With my first born I was in labor for an entire day, before I even started pushing. I started having contractions early in the morning on a Thursday and he wasn’t born until that Friday around noon.
The same can be said for my youngest. Contractions started the Monday before he was born. But I can say the actual pushing time was drastically different. I pushed four or five times with my oldest before we had to do an emergency c-section. But with my youngest I pushed twice and he was here. LIterally in less than 20 minutes. So if you consider all the labor until “active labor” then the births are very similar. However, if we are only counting active labor and pushing time, then yes it was easier.
What is the best age gap between first and second child?
All of my children are two years apart. I have breastfeeding to thank for that, lol. It has its perks. The kids get along great some days, are usually on the same page about likes and dislikes and can entertain each other pretty well. But when it rains it definitely storms. Their arguments can be fierce some times.
My husband and his brother are four years apart and he says he has a similar childhood experience. So I would say it just depends on how much of an older helper you’d want. Now, my older sister and I are eight years apart and I can say I’ve often felt she was out of touch with me.
What about space? Should they have separate rooms?
Can a toddler share a room with a baby?
Absolutely they can. My three year old and 11 month old share a room together right now. Its beautiful to see. He’ll wake up and go and check on the baby if he’s up first. Or the baby will laugh and scream (in a funny way) until he can wake his older brother up. Its the cutest thing.
What do you need for a 2nd baby?
You may be thinking you’ll have to start completely over with all the things for this baby. Or maybe you’re like, I don’t need anything since I already have so much stuff. Truth be told, it’s somewhere in the middle. There will be things you wont need to buy again, while other items it will only make sense to. Having a checklist is the perfect way to ensure you don’t forget anything.
How do I introduce my 2 year old to my baby?
Probably one of my favorite things to do. I always have my older child buy baby a toy. Then once baby has arrived they can give it to them. Its always such a special moment and allows them to share an amazing bond right from the very beginning.
Making sure to include lots of “this is your baby” and “look at your baby sibling” are very important. It helps keep your first born from feeling let out or jealous. Plus it gives them a scene of ownership over baby, so of course they want to help anyway they can.
I hope these tips encourage you. Having a second baby with a toddler is totally doable. Yes, there will be tough days, but there will also be days that take your breath away (in the best way possible!).