Preparing for baby number 2 has been a whole different ball game. I keep hearing myself say, “It’s like I’ve never been pregnant before or experienced the whole ‘labor and delivery’ thing.” With a toddler at home, life couldn’t be any MORE different.
That pregnancy trimester checklist…I mean, I did some of it.
The hospital bag: I hurriedly brought up the hospital bag checklist in one of my blog posts (because it’s nice and thorough) WHILE I was having contractions…
Birth plan: Okay, so I found a copy of my old one. We’re good there. And one thing I am SO thankful I actually did was take a refresher prenatal course. Because who remembers how many poop and pee diapers a newborn is supposed to have anyway? Check out the prenatal course I took by Hilary Erickson who’s been a registered labor and delivery nurse for 16+ years and has taught classes like this for a long time. She’s awesome.
And now as I type this, I had thought we’d be bringing home baby number 2 by now! Her due date is tomorrow and our first was born a week early. UGH!
The truth is, preparing for baby number 2 has been a shock the entire way. So much so, that I WISH someone had told me how to prepare properly. The “been-there-done-that” approach has set me up for some serious misconceptions I could have avoided.
You, on the other hand, can avoid the shock and have this in the bag. Here are the things I WISH I had known to get ready for baby number 2:
5 Dos And 5 Don’ts, Required Reading For Bringing Home Baby Number 2
1. DO: Prepare your first child
This is SO important! And I am so glad I read up on “preparing older siblings for baby number 2” because I am incredibly thankful for some of the advice. It’s been super helpful:
- Potty Training. We potty trained our toddler right before she turned 2, at the end of my second trimester. Potty training your toddler before he/she is 2 WHILE you are pregnant is totally doable and awesome. No more diapers. It’s AH-mazing. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that our little one is potty trained before baby number 2 is here!
- I have awesome blog posts on exactly how to do this here:
#1 How To Potty Train In A Weekend And Be Done!
#2 Stress-Free Potty Training This Weekend, Everything You Need To Know
- I have awesome blog posts on exactly how to do this here:
- Independence. Teach independence by working with your toddler on:
- Stairs (especially if you have any in your home or outside your apartment).
- Doing things themselves. Ask him or her to put their sippy cup in the fridge, help set the table, go potty themselves, and have solo-play time. Say things to her like, “You are SO helpful!” She will love this and will also help with baby number 2.
- Teach clean-up with toys and mess.
- Read books about having a new baby. I really do feel like this one is SO important. Because of reading these books, our 2-year-old really does understand there will be another baby in the house:
- Prepare mommy-free activities before baby number 2 arrives. We LOVE Busy Toddler activities. Her Playing Preschool book is fantastic.
2. DO: Prepare your home for baby number 2
Preparing your home for baby number 2 will likely look VERY different from baby number one. Your spare closet may not be organized this time and each new-shiny baby thing may not have it’s own labeled drawer. This time instead of picking out the perfect paint colors, you’re scrubbing stains and seeing what you can still use!
I thought preparing our home for another baby would be a breeze. We’ve already been-there-done-that, right?
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
We still had to spend a little money for new baby things (replacing old ones) annndd there was no baby shower this time. If you do have family close, ask about doing a baby sprinkle. That would help SO much!
I have a post that goes over this in detail, since baby number 2 prep was not all rainbows and butterflies: Preparing For Baby Number 2, 5 Things I Wish I Would Have Done.
Also, How To Prepare Your Home For A Newborn: The Only Checklist You Will Need To Prepare For Baby is one of our most popular posts and lists what you will need to prep, room-by-room. It’s a great refresher. I pulled it out to prep our Amazon list before baby number 2 and it was super helpful.
Here’s a short list of things you may have to replace, clean or prep:
- Clothes. Things that need to be replaced or different seasonal gear. For example, I needed to buy some fleece onesies for winter, new thicker socks, hats and a thicker winter baby blanket because we would have a winter baby this time instead of a summer one!
- Bibs. You probably have found the kind of bib you hate and the one you know works for you. Buy more of the ones you like. We threw away all those velcro bibs that tore up our laundry and stopped sticking, replacing them with quality bibs that SNAP: Aden + Anais bibs.
- Burp rags. These Gerber prefolds (do not use them as cloth diapers ever – just burp rags) are like THE staple in our house.
- Postpartum Kit. Make SURE you prepare your postpartum kit for a faster, more comfortable healing and recovery. I have a Postpartum Amazon List that has exactly what you need. I bought everything on it last week for baby number 2!
- Baby monitor number 2. I had thought about getting just another camera and I Googled what other moms did but I didn’t like the idea of having to switch the screen. I wanted 2 screens and I don’t want to use my phone. The Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor on Amazon has the MOST reviews I’ve ever seen (over 25,000) and almost five solid stars. It’s great. I bought another one of those.
- Free breast pump. If your insurance does this (many do), call in and get that free breast pump because I bet your other one has seen better days. And while we’re on this subject, don’t forget to order (or add to your baby number 2 registry/list) a GIANT pack or 2 of breastmilk storage bags.
- Owlet smart sock. We didn’t do a heart-rate monitor of any sort the first time around and for the sake of my poor husband’s heart health, I ordered an Owlet Smart Sock. Our little fresh squishy would cough in the middle of the night and he’d jump out of bed to see if she was okay in total fight-or-flight-daddy-protector mode. I feel like it’s worth the money for our sanity (at least his for sure!).
- New pacifiers. Do you think you’ll be able to find all of them? I sure couldn’t! Our little one was obsessed with the NUK brand. I’ve heard other people try all different kinds of pacifiers but these worked really great for us. I ordered a few more of these.
- Waterproof changing pad liners. If you didn’t have these for baby number 1, well you are in for a treat. Munchkin Changing Pad Liners are the bomb dot com. I put one of these down with a burp cloth over it and just changed out those instead of our pretty changing pad. It worked like a dream. I bought 6 more this time around because well…after 2 years they’re gonners.
3. DO: Arrange for childcare
Do this for the baby’s arrival AND after your newborn is home. Juggling a newborn and an older sibling is HARD work!
We have ZERO family where we live so this was a challenge. I started going to “mommy and me” classes. We have a local Gymboree where I met some mommies that I actively sought out, along with the staff! There are also MOPS groups and more.
My point is this: don’t try to do it all alone. You are a super-tough warrior mommy but it’s okay to have help. You need help for your sanity. Seek out help from family, friends or find fellow mommies you can trust if you have recently moved.
Pack a hospital bag for your toddler
We had our little one pick out her own backpack (it’s super fluffy, light pink and she loves it). Here’s what to add to it:
- A schedule written out for the babysitter (when your little one gets up, eats, naps, goes to bed etc. + emergency information)
- Hand sanitizer
- A few books
- A fun activity he/she likes (We added the perfect little portable Play-Doh set, a little on-the-go dry erase alphabet book & a little baggie of legos for 18 months plus)
- Sippy cup
- A toddler potty cover for public restrooms that is amazing + disposable covers (I always have this in her bag so she can fit sanitarily on “big potties”)
- iPad. Sometimes during doctor visits and travel, we have used the iPad. We try as much as possible to have zero screen time but have agreed at certain times, a little is okay. Do what you think is best!
4. DO: Take some “me” mommy time
Go get your hair done, your nails did, get waxed, have your eyebrows finessed or your eyelashes. Do at least one thing to treat your self. This may not be the easiest thing to do right now with all the things you juggle, but it’s SO important to care for yourself.
Recently, I did something I never would have done: I scheduled a prenatal spa morning. Like, a WHOLE morning. It made me realize that as mommies, we focus on EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE but ourselves. I hadn’t had my hair done in over 2 years or bought a single new clothing item during that same timeframe. We are healthier and happier as mommies and can care for our loved ones better when we take some “me” time.
And remember the bonus of mommy “me” time? You’ll look fantastic in those delivery photos and in the newborn photo session with minimal effort. I got my hair and nails done about a week and a half before delivering the first time. Life saver. This time, I did the spa thing and it’s something I will never forget.
If your budget is tight, then skip the spending and treat yourself with something low-key and cost-effective. Maybe treating your self is curling up on the couch one evening and reading your favorite book or taking a nice long shower (no interruptions) with your favorite music playing. The point is to slow down, have someone care for your first tiny human and breathe.
5. DO: Pack a MUCH lighter hospital bag this time around
Take out that hospital bag checklist again (I just downloaded my own again – haha) and pack a SMALLER bag this time, right? Maybe swap out that pretty weekender bag (that digs into your shoulders when you carry it) for a small under-the-seat airplane luggage bag with wheels! This time, you know the kitchen sink doesn’t need to be included.
1. DON’T: Get all worked up about nesting
With baby number 2, I was WAY more relaxed about the whole “nesting” thing than the first. I remember hammering in a shelf at 12 am, having crawled on top of the dryer 30 weeks pregnant. Our poor neighbors. Every nook and cranny of our apartment was organized from the storage closet to the silverware drawer. I’m sure you can relate!
This time, I didn’t even bat an eye at a paintbrush. But then week 39 hit. That anxious-panicky MUST NEST feeling seemed to leak into tasks throughout the day. The dishwasher had to be clean and run three times a day. All the laundry needed to be done, folded and put away. Everything had to be vacuumed, cleaned (toddler toys all neat…that’s a challenge) and ALL the things purchased and ready.
Last night I obsessed (for hours) over what rocking chair cover to buy to match the light-blocking curtains.
I had not escaped the nesting!
My husband said something comforting, I think is something we all need to hear: “It’s okay. If we have the baby now, it will be perfect. It will be meant to be. Just because the Amazon order hasn’t come in, the house isn’t flawless and we don’t have everything ready, doesn’t mean we aren’t ready. We are and we’ve done this before.”
2. DON’T: Give a *$#@* what other people think
The days of that first-time-pregnancy sparkle in the eye are long gone: that innocence that told the world this was your first rodeo. Nope. Now you can carry a stroller up three flights of stairs while carrying a diaper bag and screaming baby and not bat an eye.
You are an experienced warrior-woman mom and no one is going to give you “first-time-mom-advice”. At least no one who has any sense! That innocent sparkle in your eye has turned into hardened momma-bear grit.
If you don’t want to tell anyone (but whoever is taking care of little number one) that you’re at the hospital: don’t. If you want to name your baby something aunt Betty thinks is trashy: do. If you want to wear sweatpants and stay in with your toddler for a week before baby comes while eating ice cream: by all means girlfriend, say goodbye to the public while you focus on you and your family.
By now, I am sure you’ve gotten WAY better at this than round one but hold your ground. Everyone is going to give you their opinion. Do what you know is best. You’ve already done this. Trust your instincts.
3. DON’T: Have mommy guilt
Being pregnant with another baby AND raising another child is hella hard. Especially in the first and last trimester. For us, add no family around and in a fairly new location to the mix, which = no help. That meant it was all on me 70+ hours a week. Outside of those mommy hours, I blogged 40+ hours a week.
Exhaustion became my way of life and I’m not proud of that. It’s not an example I want to set for other mommy bloggers out there. And boy did I have the mom guilt. There were times I was so sick and exhausted, there was nothing I could do but give my little one an iPad and lie next to her in bed trying to hide the puke bowl. And my husband could only take off work so many times.
The mommy guilt was tremendous.
I realized that I needed to make a change and that my body just couldn’t do what I wanted it to do anymore. I had to say no (and it was really hard) to people, groups I was a part of and events I loved. I stopped getting up at 5 am, focused on our little family and I stopped feeling guilty about not being able to be everything.
You are enough. Focus on what matters and say no to things that won’t get you where you want to be in five years. Don’t let mom guilt get in the way. Let it go, prioritize and be the mommy you can be and no more.
4. DON’T: Allow for resentment (from human-you-produced number 1)
Introduce your toddler to baby number 2 the right way. Some veteran moms may “poo-poo” this, but it works awesome.
Your first child matters and his/her view of the new baby. When the older sibling is coming to the hospital, have a nurse take baby number 2 from the room. Be very happy and excited when your first child comes into the room!
She may be uncomfortable in the hospital, so have a bag prepared with some snacks and books. Read, color, have a snack, cuddle, and talk. When she is comfortable, excitedly ask if she’d like to FINALLY meet her brand new baby sister. Then ask the nurse to bring in your newborn.
Make sure to try to include your second child as if the baby were hers too: ‘this is the family’s new baby’. That way she can share the excitement and responsibility while avoiding resentment.
5. DON’T: Expect everything to be the same the second time around
Was pregnancy number 2 a complete carbon copy of pregnancy number one? Nope.
Don’t expect anything to be the same. This set me up for SO MUCH disappointment. I felt like I’d never been pregnant before! This time around I had to see a physical therapist for the pain, I was extremely sick, the baby even sat lower so clothes fit differently and I had contractions for TWO weeks. The first baby = no pain, no sickness, clothes were great and I had feeling down there and BOOM we were in labor!
Baby number 2 also will not be an exact copy. Cherish their differences. Don’t set yourself up for frustration by thinking it will all be a breeze because you’ve already done this before and you can do the same things with the second.
RELATED: Here are some related hot-topics to help you brush up before your little human number 2 gets here:
- Part #1: 10 Baby Sleep Secrets You Must Know, The ULTIMATE Overnight Sleep Guide
- Part #2: The Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule, Must-Know Week By Week Tips
- What I WISH I Had Known Before Bringing Baby Home
Now you know the “been-there-done-that” approach is not the way to go. You now are a seasoned warrior-mamma who needs to trust her instincts, but preparing for baby number 2 still has some required steps that will save your sanity.
Once you’ve prepped your first child, readied your home for a newborn, taken some mommy time, packed that hospital bag (MUCH lighter), eased up on the nesting, and let go of that mommy guilt, you are ready to go.
Most importantly, now you know the second time around will never be like the first. With this in mind, you couldn’t be more ready to add another little family member to your home.
RELATED: Make sure you have your postpartum stuff ready this time around. You know how tough that recovery can be. I put together an Amazon list of recommended things from our hospital. Also, I added personal comments on the products (just click on that little speech bubble icon) so you can see why this particular product made the list.