Coping with baby number two

The pregnancy has flown by, it feels as if you only found out last week and now you’re repacking your hospital bag and explaining to your eldest that they’ll be having a sleepover with granny and an adventure with daddy and that you will be bringing their little brother or sister home.

This time around you don’t have the naïve visions of what life with a baby will be like. You have a very active toddler or older child and all you’re worried about is how you’ll cope and how your older child will feel.

Is there any good news?

The good news is that you aren’t reeling in shock this time around, so even if your eldest is a teenager, it does all come back to you. You won’t be dunking the wrong end into the bath by mistake because you missed the hospital bath demonstration.  Mostly you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about with your first.

The bad news is that your older child suddenly looks enormous, and often their neediness when you’re exhausted and dealing with a newborn can leave you feeling quite snappy and you can wish that they could already do more for themselves. A sanity saver for many moms is using a soft wrap to carry their newborn so that they can still attend to their toddler or older child while baby sleeps happily against them and even feeds, and they have both hands free.  

Taking a shower is easier than when you had your first – this time you realise that putting baby on the play mat or in the bouncy chair while you shower and brush your teeth is quite fine.  You also manage to bath your older child and read them their bed time story while feeding baby.

Little helper

You’ll may also be getting a lot of help from your older child for a few days – don’t worry, the novelty of new baby generally does wear off – often a little faster if you let them help a lot.  

If your eldest is a toddler, it can help to have a basket of toys, books and games in each room, so that wherever you sit to feed, there is an activity for you and your toddler.  It helps to have nappy changing goodies for both children in the same place too, along with waterless hand cleanser and a sealed container of non perishable snacks and juice for you and your toddler.

My son was 7 when I had my daughter.  He was a big help with holding her and entertaining her. One day I left her in his care in her bedroom while I attended to someone at our door for about 3 minutes. I came back into the room and he was smiling and the baby was gone. I screamed “Where is she?!”, he went “Abracadabra!!” and pulled her out of the laundry basket. She was smiling beautifully, not at all aware of the cruel trick played on her.

I managed to laugh for my sons benefit. If you have a toddler, it’s best not to leave baby in their care, they’re rather well known for taking a bit of baby’s foot to check if it’s real or poking them to remind them who is boss.

Remember that your toddler does feel like you would feel if your spouse brought home another wife or girlfriend claiming that it was because they love you so much. Reminding your toddler that the baby is a real person, and will take less time and become more interesting as they grow might help. Or might not.  

Why aren’t you sleeping when baby sleeps?

As tempted as you are to sleep when baby sleeps, it can help with your relationship with your older child if you spend this time alone with them. If at all possible, try to spend an hour or two in bed with baby in the mornings or afternoons or when your toddler sleeps so that you can sleep while you feed. An older child will understand that this is so you have the energy to be with them.  

A toddler might tolerate it if you’ve given them your full attention earlier and they’re now with dad or granny – especially if they get to go on an adventure to the park leaving you with the boring baby.  

Thankfully, you also know this time how quickly the early weeks pass, so things are just overall less stressful.  

When you have your third, fourth or fifth child, your organisational skills will be put to the test. But so long as you count the children when you get into the car, all will be well.  

What advice do you have for soon-to-be second time moms? Email and let us know your tips and tricks.

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