Adding a Second Child: 5 Truths You Won’t Find in Books
Adding a second child to your home? As a mom who had two kids in twenty months, I remember how much that transition rocked my world. I asked around to other parents about what wisdom they had to share about adding #2.
Here are 5 truths from the vets that aren't in your parenting manuals:
Decision-making is less stressful. Having been through the newborn stage once already Katy says, “I had a walking, talking, happy example of how the hard stages didn't last forever and the decisions I made about working, feeding, etc., had already resulted in a kid who seemed just fine.”
Relax in the fact that you have done this before and you can do it again!
Be prepared for any reaction from the older sibling. As my pediatrician put it, there are three kinds of kids: Those who …
- love the baby immediately
- ignore the baby
- lose their minds
You really don't know which category your child falls into until the new baby arrives. My daughter was in the third camp, which made a rough transition for not only bringing the baby home, but also for trying to nurse, etc.
What to know: Even if your oldest child doesn't instantly fall in love with the baby, they will get there. Setting up a plan can be a big help. Have special gifts for the big brother or sister to open while you are at the hospital, and don't forget one-or-one time. If you can, set up some special time with grandparents, a family friend, and once you are home, with each parent, too.
Each kid is different! Mary Carol says, “We totally thought #2 would be a rinse, repeat of #1 but #2 – and #3 – were totally unique, from how they were born, to how they sleep, poop, and eat.”
So, don't throw out those baby manuals just yet. Baby #2 may have a few new tricks up his sleeve for you!
Make friends with your baby carrier. This isn't about what parenting philosophy you subscribe to … this is just reality. Your older child will remain as busy as ever, so find a baby carrier that makes it easy for you to be on the go. My son used to snooze in the carrier while I took my daughter everywhere from playing in the local toddler to pushing her on the swings at the park.
A consistent parent recommendation is finding a carrier that can be worn on your front or back. It is easier on your core muscles as your little one grows bigger and makes more extensive outings feasible. Plus, as Margot points out, “The baby's stroller is now used to carry stuff, not the baby, because the bigger kid insists on driving the stroller … which is a death wish for your second child.”
Leslie nails it: “[The kids] will be best friends, but also try to kill each other.” Regardless of what kind of reception your eldest gives the baby, they will become close as they play, scheme, and look for trouble together.
And bickering? Yeah, there's a startling amount of that, too!
How do you navigate this new dynamic? Jill reminds us that it takes mom's help foster love for one another.
As for the fighting, Farah lets her boys figure out their disagreements on their own. It has taught them to not only defend themselves, but has also created strong allies. They are the first to step up and protect each other.
Bonus tip: When your little one comes home, lose the guilt over screen time. If your older child is watching more TV than usual as you get settled, don't panic. Always remember it's temporary. So if some extra screen time means you get a shower or can feed the baby peacefully, go for it! Both kids will be fine – and so will you.
Do you have more than one child? Share your lessons learned in the comments!