Adding a Second Child: 5 Truths You Won’t Find in Books

Image via Tracy Jensen

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:

craft with kids
Image via iStock

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!

Image via iStock

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.

{ MORE: What You Should Know About Milk Allergies in Infants }

happy mom with kids
Image via iStock

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!


mom wearing soft structured carrier
Image via Mindi Stavish

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.”

{ MORE: Co-Sleeping: The Leading Risk Factor for Sleep Related Infant Deaths }

kids walking
Image via Galit Breen

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!

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What do you think?

Adding a Second Child: 5 Truths You Won’t Find in Books

Tracy Jensen is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, and music lover. A working, single mom of two kids ages six and five, she is notorious for doing things the hard way. In addition to writing for EverydayFamily, she survives suburban exile by blogging about life’s foibles at It Builds Character. She can be found at night ignoring the dishes and playing on Twitter. ... More

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  1. chi_baby says:

    This article speaks directly to me! I have a 19-month old and a 3-week old and it has been far from easy! My toddler has many moments where he’s loving towards the baby, but he also has about 4 major tantrums daily since my newborn’s arrival. Nap time and bedtime are the worst because that used to be time that my toddler and I would cuddle ourselves to sleep. I do use the tv and iPad more to distract my toddler. I feel guilty about it at times, but as you said, it is only temporary. Thanks for writing this. It’s good to know I am not alone and this too shall pass!

  2. Dianne says:

    My son will be one the day before Thanksgiving, and I’m due with my daughter 2 weeks later, I don’t know how my son will react once she gets here, He is the quite one, He never cried, even when I leave he didn’t seem to mind, but now he doesn’t want to be around anyone except me.. I know he’ll learn to accept he has a little sister but in the mean time how do I get him to get use to me leaving out the room without him crying trying to crawl to the edge of the bed to see if I’m coming back!

  3. Delilah says:

    My son just turned 1 yrs old and I have twin girls on the way. He is currently in the biting stage and I’m having trouble weaning him off his bottle. I know things are gonna be a lot tougher when the twins get here. I don’t know how my son is going to react. Any advice or tips to introduce baby 2 and 3 to my 1 yrs old?

  4. ovation says:

    My now 4 yr old fell in the 1st and 3rd category. He loved his new lil brother but went through some pretty tough phases. Since I nursed that meant less cuddling with mom which he was not so thrilled. My hubby and I both had to continually reiterate we both loved him just as much but we just had 2 kids 2 love now. It’s heart breaking when ur oldest thinks you can’t love him cause of the new baby. We just keep telling him how much we loved him. Whenever possible I would pass lil brother to Dad and make time for my oldest. We would also do big boy things with just my oldest and one of us. If you make the time and effort to make the oldest feel secure again things get better. My oldest absolutely loves his lil brother. He plays with him and just thinks it’s the best thing ever he can make his lil brother laugh anytime. It’s quite amusing for my hubby and I to watch how they interact with one another. We still have sibling rivalry but we just keep working through it.

    • Tracy Jensen says:

      There is definitely nothing like seeing siblings together! Now that my two are five and four, they are such great friends and always look after each other. Do they fight? Of course. But on the days they aren’t together, they can’t wait to get back to each other.

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