Updated: Aug 17
Having a second baby is an amazing time! You get to give your older child a sibling, and a friend for life. Your heart only grows more full with a second child! But going from one child to two children is very challenging for the parents. You’ve got to care for a newborn, recover from pregnancy and birth, and look after your older child. And all of this needs to be done on much less sleep then you’re used to. So here are a few life hacks that make things easier when you have a newborn and another child.
Have a baby carrier:
Even if you didn’t use a baby carrier for your first child, a baby carrier is really useful for when you have a second baby. With a baby carrier, you can soothe your new baby to sleep, hold them and rock them, while also having two hands free and able to attend to your older child. This is especially useful for times when your child needs a snack, or when they need you to play with them.
Make bulk snacks and lunches in the morning or at night:
We all know that children need snacks constantly. And children often request snacks at times that are the least convenient. When your child is in bed, or when your partner is at home, make the most of this time and make snacks. You can even make your child a lunchbox with lunch and snacks for them to munch on throughout the day.
Have a special box of toys just for when you’re feeding and tending to the newborn:
This is one that is often recommended by experienced parents. With your child, choose some special toys for them to have in a box that is just for when you feed and tend to baby. Make sure the box is only used at the these times, and choose items that the child can play with by themselves. Some suggestions of toys can include: a baby doll, stickers and colouring activities, play dough, or just about anything that is special to your individual child. Choose these together and talk about how special they are in advance.
Read books about being a big brother/big sister:
There are lots of lovely books available that explain to your child all about being a big brother or sister. You can use these to talk about how special and important a big brother and big sister is in a baby’s life, but also talk about some of the difficulties. Make sure they know to expect that babies cry, and sometimes parents need to take time away from the older child to take care of the baby. Most importantly, make them feel good about themselves and ensure they know they are loved no matter what.
Plan time for just you and your older child:
Plan some time to be just with your older child, one on one. If you have support from a partner, family and friends, or a babysitter, organise some time, at least once a week, to just be with your older child. Do something enjoyable with them, such as playing their favourite game, or going to the park. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something enjoyable for the child.
Perhaps most importantly, lower your expectations of yourself. Let the house be messy until you have someone to help you tidy it up. Eat frozen meals or take away more often than usual. Allow your older child to watch more TV than usual. Be kind to yourself. The early days of having a second child can be challenging, allow yourself to do less, so that you can be more for both of your children.
Let the older child help:
We all know that help from toddlers is not always very helpful! But involve your child in whatever way you can. Let your child hand you nappies, or pick up dropped toys and blankets. Let your child choose a special toy for the baby. Let your child feel like the baby belongs to them as well. This helps sibling bonding, and also helps make life easier for you.
Make yourself a postpartum recovery kit
The time when your second baby arrives is perhaps the most wild time in parenting. You’re getting to know your second baby, as well as looking after an older child, who is full of energy, and full of needs. But it is also a time full of love, and a special time for you to always look back on when your children are older.
Who else has two or more children? What tips would you add? Let us know in the comments