With Baby #2 coming right around the corner, I’ve noticed the prep that goes into getting a family ready for a 2nd baby is different than the first time around. As such, I thought it might be helpful to list 5 things we’ve done/are doing to make sure we’re ready and raring to go for our latest addition to the family.
#1: Make sure Baby #1 is at least in the loop on the changes set to happen in his/her life very soon.
I’ve heard from lots of parents that this is a crucial step they themselves miss out on, which causes a lot of anxiety on the part of your firstborn – and so by proxy on you and your co-parent as well. It’s always a good idea to start talking to your kids early about big changes that are about to happen in their lives. For us, this meant that once my belly started to show, I began to tell our toddler that he would soon be a brother – trying in very simple terms to explain what was going on in mommy’s body. On top of that, we were gifted an adorable Big Brother* book from one of my best friends, Katrina, and purchased 2 of our own, which we began to read to him when we hit the third trimester.
I have also recently added another layer to this prep by creating a personalized Big Brother Handbook. I will share a sneak peak of the pages below. A lovely lady in one of the expat communities I’m in has a history in child psychology and social work, and was explaining to a group of us that even for children as young as 18 months, she likes to create primers that help them deal with big life changes ahead of time. She and her family are leaving Jakarta in December, and to prep her 2-year-old, she made her own “Moving Book” of important things, places, people in his life currently and how relationships and surroundings are going to change in a few months. I thought this was such a fantastic idea that I decided to co-opt it myself for our upcoming milestone.
I’m hoping these things together help our 21 month old son better prepare himself emotionally for the changes to come, and provide him a feeling of safety and security: that we respect him and his needs and feelings, and that we are sensitive to him always.
Quick note: I didn’t embed sample pages of them here, but I also included family photos and the story of our son’s own birth so that he gets the context, and also sees what a fun, growing family we are, and what great memories we’ve already shared.
#2: Make sure home is a place that can grow with you.
For us, this literally meant moving into a new, refurbished 3-bedroom apartment some floors down in the same building at a great price. However, that’s not really what I mean. By this I basically mean, make sure you make space in your home to grow. For you it could mean moving to a larger home to accommodate your growing family, or simply doing a massive bout of spring cleaning and whittling things down to the necessities so you can better manage your household, your space, and the expanding demands of the home. Whatever it is, when you’re expecting your second, take a look at what you’ve got, and find ways to either grow it with you, or make room for the growth to come.
#3: Wash, sterilize, unearth out of storage anything that could come in handy from Baby #1’s infancy. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
I know for some it’s tempting to buy a new set of everything for your 2nd kid, but my advice is: don’t. Most bottles, pumps, sterilizers, etc are reusable with your second. Your nursing covers, nursing outfits, etc are just like regular clothes and should last you several years and a few babies. Most importantly, your baby’s personal style need not require a whole new wardrobe.
For us, even though we are expecting a girl, we will be reusing much of Lucas’ old clothing. The honest truth is infants are messy, and don’t spend very much time outside with other people anyway, so when it comes to fashion choices, it’s the environmentally (and financially) friendly option to use what you’ve already got. Swaddles, onesies, jammies, mittens – you name it, and Baby #2 will be using them. It’s saving us quite a chunk of money, and keeping us from falling into a consumerist trap of “more, more, more”/”want, want, want” instead of focusing on more important things.
#4: Don’t get too complacent. Continue to do those breathing exercises, pack that hospital bag, hit your kegel goals everyday…
I’ve noticed a trend amongst myself and all my friends in the same position (of whom there are many – 5 in my Bible Study group alone!), that one tends to get more complacent with Baby #2. From missed doctor’s appointments, to worse dietary habits; from forgetting what week you’re on, to leaving packing and prep to the last minute…
I know there’s something liberating about not being constantly terrified and exhilarated at the same time as your due date nears. But there’s also something to be said for maintaining a level of responsibility and preparedness. Don’t take for granted the importance of eating healthy, having things ready for baby, and doing your exercises. In the end, they’ll contribute to a smoother labor, delivery, and transition thereafter.
Case in point: I have done 0 breathing exercises this time around. I didn’t bother attending a birthing class refresh, and left my birthing handbook back home in the Philippines, so haven’t exactly taken the time to practice this. Last night, I had the most painful false labor I’ve ever experienced — I kid you not. I could barely move and was nauseous and shivering from the pain. Thankfully the contractions moved further and further apart and eventually dissipated after 1.5 hours, but in that time, I did find myself thinking often: darn, I wish I had remembered my breathing exercises.
Suffice to say, you may feel nonchalant and ready, but in many cases, the practice still makes a difference. Now if you need me, I’ll be watching YouTube birthing exercises all day today to prepare for the inevitable. Thankyouverymuch.
#5: Get your support system in place and ready to jump in at any moment’s notice.
Lastly, I can’t stress this enough: have your support planned in advance. Especially if you live away from extended family support or don’t have live-in help, you need to have some kind of plan of what to do with your first child: who to leave them with, who you can call when you’re in labor, what the support structure looks like while you’re in the hospital delivering and recovering, how often your first will visit (should be often enough to feel included, but not too often that it’ll expose him/her to more hospital germs than necessary), etc. Ask yourself these questions and make sure you’ve got your emergency numbers, friends, family, household help, etc aligned with your plans slightly ahead of time so you don’t have yet another thing to stress about while squeezing your 2nd out into the world.
*The Big Brother book Katrina got us is I’m A Big Brother by Joanna Cole. Check it out on Amazon here.
If you are on your first and want more tips on how to prep for you first baby, these past entries I did might be of some use:
- Baby Bump Haul: 5 Things I’m Loving this Pregnancy
- Prepping for D-Day Part 1: Birth Plans
- Prepping for D-Day Part 2: What’s in our Hospital Bag??
- Prepping for D-Day Part 3: What’s in our Labor Kit??