How to prepare for your second child
Planning for the arrival of your second baby can be both exciting and daunting. We help you get your home, your firstborn and your mind ready for number two.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I had plenty of time to buy all the baby items I needed, rest when I was tired and decorate the nursery. The second time around, I had to try to meet the needs of a high-energy toddler while feeling doubly sick and exhausted (I was expecting twins!). Plus, we moved interstate when I was six months pregnant, so I no longer had family nearby to help me.
Let’s just say no nurseries were painted and no cute outfits were purchased. I had to focus on preparing my home and my family for the two baby bombs that were about to explode into our lives, so I whittled down my to-do list to items that needed to get done and that would make my life easier once they’d arrived. And while life with three kids two-and-a-half years apart has been crazy, it’s also been wonderful and full of joy. All those fears about not being able to “handle it” that had cluttered my mind when I was pregnant didn’t come true. Not only can you do this two-child business, you’re going to rock it. Time to get organized, mama!
- Check your health insurance coverage: Call your health insurance provider ASAP and ask for a breakdown of the pregnancy and childbirth costs that are covered by your plan so you can budget for additional costs. You should also notify your provider that you’ll soon be adding another child to your plan.
- Sort through your baby items: Pull all your baby items out of storage and decide what you’ll reuse and what you’ll sell or give away. Check all electronic items to make sure they still work and replace the batteries. Wash all soft toys, blankets and swaddles, as well as the material parts of car seats, bouncers and other items. Sort through your baby clothes and wash the items you plan to use. Make a list of clothing essentials that you’re missing and buy them before baby arrives.
- Check the expiration date on your car seat: Say what?! Because regulations and safety standards are always changing, most car seats expire after six years. Check the label on yours to ensure it’s still safe to use. Because there are so many options out there, we’ve put together a handy guide on How to choose a car seat.
- Buy a double stroller: Unless there’s a big age gap between your children, you’ll probably want to invest in a good-quality double stroller to make getting around easier. We love the Bugaboo Donkey Duo which can be used from birth with a bassinet or for older children, with a reversible seat or the Nuna Demi Grow Stroller, which lets you use a compatible car seat, bassinet or second seat to transport two siblings at once.
- Cook in batches and freeze meals: I can’t stress the importance of this tip enough. On those days when you’re juggling a crying baby and a cranky toddler at witching hour, you’ll be so grateful to be able to pull a healthy meal out of the freezer.
- Stock up on essentials: There’s nothing worse than having to throw two kids in the car for an emergency diaper run. Buy all the baby and household essentials you’ll need for the first three months, including diapers, wipes, formula if you use it, unscented laundry detergent, cleaning products, toilet paper, toothpaste and other personal items.
- Reorganize your diaper bag: Fill your diaper bag with everything you’ll need for your baby and big kid, including diapers, wipes, diaper disposal bags, a change mat, changes of clothes, toys, feeding essentials and snacks. Repack the bag every night so you’re not scrambling to find stuff as you’re running out the door. Looking to invest in a new bag? Take a look at our gorgeous selection of stylish diaper bags.
- Declutter your house: Get rid of any items you no longer need and reorganize your cupboards, drawers and storage spaces. You probably won’t have time to do it again until your baby is in high school.
- Baby proof your home: Get rid of toys with small parts, cover electrical sockets, tuck up window blind cords and remove any other hazards lying around your house. Take a look at our guide on How to baby proof your home.
Preparing your older child
- Don’t tell them too early: Nine months is a long time for a young child, so there’s no need to rush the big news. When you do tell them, point out all the awesome things about being a big brother or sister and reassure them that you’ll still love them and have time for them. There are books that can help children understand and get excited about welcoming a sibling.
- Make arrangements for your child’s care: Designate a friend or family member to take care of your child at their home or yours while you’re in labor. Explain to your child what will happen when the baby comes and how long you’ll have to be away. Pack an overnight bag and a list of instructions for your child’s carer.
- Plan a special day: Before you get too heavy and tired, plan a special outing with your big kid. You could take them to the zoo or out for ice cream – it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you have quality one-on-one time.
- Let your child visit the baby as soon as possible: Your child will miss you when you’re in the hospital and be curious about the new baby, so plan to have someone bring them in for a visit as soon as possible after the baby is born. If you can, place the baby in the bassinet or have someone else hold it when your firstborn arrives so you can greet them with a hug and avoid having them feel jealous.
- Have your children exchange gifts: Let your big kid pick out a gift for the baby and give them a present “from the baby” too – they’re small gestures that can help your children bond.
Taking care of yourself
- Enlist others to help you rest: You’ll find it much harder to have an afternoon nap or to duck off for a pregnancy massage than you did the first time around. Ask a friend or family member to come over and entertain your eldest child for an hour or two so you can rest or have some much-needed me-time.
- Have a date night with your husband: Head out for a nice dinner or to see a movie as a last hurrah before baby arrives. You probably won’t get much alone time over the next few months, so fit it in while you can.