7 Crucial Things You Need to Know About Preparing for a Second Baby

Congratulations! You just found out you’re expecting….again!

If you are anything like me, the little plus sign on that pregnancy test brought me a wave of joy and excitement, quickly followed by a mini freak out.

How exciting! A baby, they will be best friends and think of those tiny toes!…..wait….Two?! How am I going to manage two of them?!

I quickly found out that, like my first, I would be taking it one day at a time and use the knowledge I’ve gained from my first to help me prepare for my second.

So, in the interest of sharing from experience, here is my list of crucial things you need to know about preparing for a second baby.

7 Crucial Things You Need to Know About Preparing for a Second Baby

#1: Let go of the guilt.

The feeling that presented most acutely for me was mom guilt. My son wasn’t two yet, and I was pregnant again.

I found myself worried about how I would manage my pregnancy and my busy toddler successfully. Would my fatigue and morning sickness rob him of time with me and change his routines? Would he feel replaced or stressed when we brought a new baby home?

These questions (and about ten others) plagued me and the mom guilt was eating me alive. So, my tip for anyone expecting their second baby is this: In the words of Queen Elsa, “Let it go.” Just let that mess go.

The truth is, as a first-born child myself, I am not irreparably damaged from sharing toys, time and attention with my siblings and my son won’t be either. I don’t remember feeling stressed, so any stress in the house and change of routine won’t make a lasting impression.

I am sure I will find other ways to mess him up down the line, however, giving him a sibling isn’t going to be one of them. So, take a breath momma and relax. The stress isn’t good for anyone! You aren’t going to miss huge milestones from morning sickness and your oldest won’t be developmentally delayed if he/she watches an extra television program while you lay on the couch and rest.

At the end of the day, your little one will adjust and will be fine.

#2: Figure out the sleeping arrangements.

A crucial part of bringing home baby, is finding out where he/she is going to sleep. It is important to gauge whether or not your first born is ready to graduate (or perhaps already has graduated) to a toddler bed in order to decide how things will go when baby comes home.

Don’t stress too much though – you have some time. Remember, newborns are up a lot at night (remember those days?) and often spend at least a couple of months in a bassinet in mom and dad’s room. (Read this if you need a reminder of how to get your baby to sleep well.)

My son wasn’t ready to graduate from his crib; he was still a little too restless and more interested in climbing in and out of his bed instead of sleeping in it. We opted to keep him in his crib for now and use a mini pack ‘n play in our room for the first several months with the new baby.

I work from home and we live in a small 3 bedroom, so eventually the kids will share a room. And considering the aforementioned recommendation, I am letting that go until it’s time to deal with it. (See how easy that was?)

#3: Check your baby items inventory.

Many second-timers will have their baby items packed away safely somewhere…and in many cases, you forget what you have.

While you’re pregnant with your second is a great time to break into some of those storage totes and refresh your memory on what things you used most often with your first. It’s a great way for “type A” moms (like myself) to do a mental checklist of things you bought and never used, things that wore out and need replaced, and what things only need to be washed and put back into use.

I found that there were several things I thought I would need and didn’t as well as many things I didn’t think I would need and did. Those experiences are going to make you a pro this time around!

Read: 4 Things I Never Thought I’d Need Before I Had My First Baby

Plus, I get so much joy from holding and smelling all his old baby stuff. Remember, you are hormonal, so keep those tissues close!

Additionally, many people don’t realize that all car seats come with an expiration date. It may be tempting to use the same seat you have from your first, but remember to check that date. Usually the date is printing on a sticker at the bottom of the seat, or can be found in the user manual.

If neither of these are true for you (as it was for me) then you can find the manufacturing date printed on the seat and call the manufacturer. They can tell you their standard for usage and expiration based on the model and manufacturing date. Checking your car seat info early in pregnancy will help you as you put together your “needs” list and plan your budget for the new baby.

#4: Prepare your child for a new sibling.

My son isn’t quite two so we have done some things to talk to him about a new baby and prepare him for a new sibling in the family. It is important to note that while many of these things are universal across many ages, there will be varying needs depending on the age of your child.

For us, it was important that we talk to him about the baby and prepare him for this in a fun way. We talk about the baby and have him practice holding a baby with his stuffed friends. So far, it’s going okay, but he is young. An older child can really benefit from talking about the baby and practicing. But they may enjoy doing weekly updates on baby’s development using an app on your phone or in a book.

Making sure you include the older sibling in important milestones is a great way to help prepare them.

A few great ways to keep older siblings excited about the new arrival:

  • Have them be part of a gender reveal (if you are finding out).
  • Make sure they have big brother/sister gifts at any showers or parties you may be having where the baby is the center of attention.
  • Purchase or decorate your own “I’m the big brother/sister” shirts to wear when baby is born.
  • Have a small big boy/girl gift ready for when they come to meet the baby.

These are just a few things you can do to make sure your oldest child is excited about their graduation from only child to older sibling. Remember, you are in no way hurting them, but it is a big transition. Doing things to make this easier for them is a good choice for both of you!

#5: Plan a baby budget.

Babies are expensive! Expecting your second child can bring financial stress to a young family.

Calculating the costs for diapers, feeding (formula or breastfeeding necessities), child care, clothing, etc. can be intimidating during any pregnancy. Especially when you’re onto your second child. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare for the arrival of your little one.

Deciding if you plan to use formula or breast feed can have a huge impact on your baby budget plan. Nursing tends to be less expensive but isn’t always an option or a desire for some moms.

If you are formula feeding, you don’t want to stockpile ahead of time because there is always the chance the baby won’t tolerate a certain brand or it can expire before baby is born. My recommendation in this case is to put a little money aside with each check to help offset costs later.

You’ll also remember from your first that newborns go through diapers like they are free, which they most definitely aren’t.

A great way to prepare for the birth of your second is to clip coupons and buy diapers starting early. This time, you remember which sizes kids typically spend the most time in: size 1, 3, and 5. You can start stocking up now and taking advantage of coupons and sales for months in advance of baby’s birth.

Another way to help stock up on diapers is to host a diaper party! Since you likely already have most of the essentials for baby, many second-timers will choose to celebrate baby number two with a smaller party for diapers instead of clothes or baby gear like a typical shower.

The idea is you host a party or barbecue and all your friends’ “admission” is a pack of diapers. It can be a lot of fun and a great way to get the stockpile going!

Also read: 21+ Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Second Baby (What to Get Mom)

#6: Explore your maternity leave options.

If you live in the United States, you know that most women aren’t given a lot of options for maternity leave. If you live in a country where this is a grey area, it is important to understand your rights while you are pregnant and after you have your baby.

Even if you’ve been through this with your first already, a change in jobs or simply the time lapse between pregnancies can change your options, so it’s important your research this thoroughly during your early pregnancy.

Speaking from experience, my employer during my first pregnancy didn’t provide maternity leave but instead allowed me to use Short-Term Disability and FMLA to take time off after my son was born.

This only provided me with 60% of my pay for 6 weeks (a total of 3 paychecks) after my son was born, and the remaining 6 weeks was unpaid. My husband and I had to prepare for that time by putting money in a savings account in the months leading up to his birth which helped us maintain our bills while I was bonding with our son.

Since you are already looking at your budget from tip #5, this is a great opportunity to understand how your budget will be impacted in the weeks immediately following birth.

Another side note from my experience: I had put in time-off requests for the required OB appointments throughout my pregnancy. At the end of my pregnancy, my employer tried to tell me I had to use my Paid Time Off and my banked FMLA time to cover these since they related to a pregnancy.

In other words, make sure you read all the fine print and thoroughly understand how your company uses your time. If it’s as simple as requesting the time, but not specifying if it’s for an appointment, it can save you several precious days with your newborn later on!


#7: Enjoy it!

If my first-born has taught me anything it’s this: It goes by too quickly. So remember, with your second, make sure you enjoy all the little moments and special time with your both of your babies.

Pregnancy can be really difficult for a lot of us, but enjoy those squirms and kicks, enjoy the ultrasounds and enjoy the wait to meet your new little bundle of joy. My second pregnancy seems to be going by so much faster than my first, so I am making sure I enjoy every minute I can.

Also, don’t forget to enjoy the one-on-one time you have with your first born. There is a lot to do in preparation for a new baby, but you have the time. Don’t push yourself too hard to be super mom while pregnant; if you need to rest, then rest! You are growing a human being after all!

This is a time to really enjoy the special bond you have with your first and now your unborn child. So, enjoy it, because before you know it, you’ll be wondering where the time has gone!

So that’s it for my list of 7 crucial things you need to know about preparing for a second baby. In a nutshell, save yourself stress. By planning and researching ahead of time, making sure you enjoy every minute and letting go of any guilt, you can be sure to have an enjoyable and successful second pregnancy.

What’s your experience been like preparing for a second baby? Any tips you would add to this list? Leave a comment below!

About Eric and Tiffany Matthews

We're Eric and Tiffany, the parents behind Cynical Parent. We're just normal parents who are navigating parenthood with both eyes wide open (probably because there's a kid yelling nearby). And of course, we're pretty cynical. Don't believe everything you read or hear, whether it's on the internet, or from a close family or friend (or even from us!). Every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Sometimes you just need to try and see for yourself. :)

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