Having one child is a giant transformation for a family, but what does adding another child to your family do? Going from one child to two (or more) can bring new situations or experiences that you likely haven’t had with your first child. Like when two children are crying at the same time with different needs, you can definitely feel outnumbered! A growing family brings a set of new challenges. So, we wanted to provide some lessons learned by our community members from welcoming another child into our lives. Check out their tips for preparing for welcoming your second child:
Be Ready for New Challenges AND WINS!
There will be a lot of new and challenging experiences as your family is adjusting to the new addition so, it is normal! (Phew!) But you will also experience some wins too. Having already perhaps gone through the pregnancy and newborn phase, many things will seem familiar and not completely new. Therefore, many find the pregnancy phase flies by and time with your newborn not quite as overwhelming. This is something to celebrate as big changes in a family means the little victories are welcome encouragement for not just you but your partner and older child too.
What You Need Most
If you are lucky enough to still have many items from your first baby, then a full registry of items might not be needed. However, the baby community and industry is always evolving, so take account of what you already have for your next baby, and with your valuable past experience, take note of what might need to be replaced or upgraded since your last child was born. For example, if you had a Standard Tula with an Infant Insert with your first baby, then you might want to consider our newer Tula Carriers, the Free-to-Grow and the Explore Baby Carrier, that allow you to hold a newborn without an Infant Insert.
And definitely don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you have family or friends looking to get your new baby a gift, then think outside the box of normal registry items and consider adding services or helpful tasks to your request lists. With such a large change occurring in your family, having friends or relatives that can offer help in tasks as simple as washing the dishes, chipping in for a prenatal massage, or providing a meal can be incredibly helpful when your family is growing. One creative idea is to have a “Baby Sprinkle” where everyone brings freezer friendly meals or where everyone helps prep the house for baby’s arrival.
Include Your First Child in Baby Prep
Speaking of preparing for baby, what can often ease the transition for your first child is being included in the activities and experiences of getting ready to welcome your next child. Bringing them along to your prenatal visits, reading books about birth and becoming a sibling, and having them help pack your hospital bag are examples of how you might be able to include your older child in the process of preparing for baby and invite questions or conversations with them. Some families have gotten a doll for their child to introduce them to the concept of having a small baby around that needs care and attention.
When it comes time for baby to arrive, you might want to consider getting your older child a gift or two (from the baby perhaps) that will keep them excited and entertained as many family and friends come to meet the new baby. You might encourage them to create drawings or gifts for the baby as well so they are participating in the welcoming of the baby.
A great gift option is one of our new Mini toy carriers. Your older child gets to carry around their favourite toy or teddy and take care of their “baby” the same way you do with their baby-brother/sister.
Babywearing is the Ultimate Survival Tool
We obviously think that a baby carrier is an essential item for any new family, but from our own experience, babywearing was a life saver when having a newborn and an older sibling to care for. Having the ability to comfort baby, at times feed them and help them sleep, while still being able to have your hands free or be out and about is such a gift to a parent of two or more children. As any parent knows, multi-tasking is an everyday occurrence and your baby carrier is almost like another set of hands to help you tend to your baby’s needs so you can take big brother or sister to the zoo, make lunch, or hold your big kid’s hand.
With baby carriers that have a weight range of 7-45lb. and even a specific Toddler Carrier, you might even find that your older child will need to be in the carrier too. At times, some children experience developmental or emotional regressions when the new baby arrives. Babywearing with your older child could provide them with some much-needed bonding time or just an opportunity to rest during a new and overwhelming time.
Special Time with Your Older Child
It’s definitely easy to find your time consumed with your newborn’s need for frequent feedings and nappy changes, so try to set up time daily to check in and share dedicated time with your older child. That can take many forms and be as simple as reading a book together snuggled up or more dedicated time like an activity or event together. Finding time to check in and make your first child feel special when many people, including yourself, are focused on the new baby can seem like a natural occurrence but it's important to have reminders or schedule the time because it's very easy to lose track of time when a newborn is around!
Divide and Conquer
When you have two or more children, it’s always best when you can divide the demands of your family with someone else. Especially when a new baby is keeping you up and sleep is limited, having your partner or another caregiver can help ensure you don’t totally burn out. Before baby arrives, start planning how roles or responsibilities might need to change and when they arrive, think about how to efficiently tackle the day’s tasks.
Keep or Set Routines
With so many changes happening in the family, a familiar or reliable routine can be very beneficial to your first child. The added comfort of knowing what to expect makes it a lot easier for them to manage some of the newnesses of your family addition. A routine can also help you better plan your time with your children and avoid hard transitions and cause hiccups. If you anticipate that you will have to change previous routines, for example, if you typically do bedtime with your first child but likely will need to pass on those duties to your partner while you’re putting the baby to sleep, then you might want to introduce those changes in routine before your newborn arrives.
Quiet Time Fun
For those moments when baby and your older child require attention keep quiet time activities handy in a box or basket. When baby is sleeping or being feed, having games, puzzles, colouring books and other things available for your toddler to do on their own or with minimal help can be a great way to avoid sneaky toddler messes or disrupting baby’s quiet time. Keeping the box or basket accessible to your child can be a way to set up a routine around the instances when baby requires your attention more.
This time of having a toddler or older child while also taking care of a newborn can be exhausting! The phrase “walking mumbie” comes to mind, so it’s important to try to keep yourself healthy. Your healthy self can look and be maintained differently for everyone, but some things to be mindful of during this time of high stress and lack of sleep (because you can’t necessarily sleep when the baby does) should likely involve keeping yourself hydrated! Also, don’t forget to feed yourself more that toddler meal leftovers.
Give Yourself A Break
As you can imagine, this time will be filled with unpredictable moments and a lot of new experiences, so like when you were first learning how to be the incredible parent that you are now, give yourself a lot of forgiveness and care during this time. Know that the hard moments don’t define your family and that so many of us have been there too. Your children are growing so fast, so try to cherish the special times and remember that we can learn from hardships. The snuggles will be far more memorable!
Do you have advice for a family expecting another baby? Share with us and let us know what you found helpful.
Thank you to some of our community members who shared some of their advice for this blog: Vicky M., Paula G., and April B.