Ask the Mamas: 2nd Time Mama Advice

Each week we will ask our mamas a question from our readers that pertains to babies, kids, or parenting. Make sure to check back each Tuesday to see their responses!

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Mama Say What?! reader Quinn W. asks: “What advice do you have for 2nd time mamas-to-be?”

Image by Cari Hollis Photography

I think a lot of it depends on the age of the big sibling-to-be. Our girls are three years apart, so my older one really understood that a baby was coming, that she was going to be a big sister, etc. We involved her right from the beginning and talked a lot about what being a big sister was all about and what changes were coming. We read a LOT of books. Recognize that all of the “baby stuff” will likely be easier with your second, since you’ve been there before and everything isn’t as new and panic-inducing. Remember, though, that your second baby may not be just like your first, so there is some learning curve. The real difficulty in having a second child is learning to juggle parenting two children, especially when they’re both very young. For our family, staying in our routine as much as possible was essential. Our older daughter stayed in preschool as usual; except for the day she came to the hospital to meet her new sister. It helped her adjust to all the “new” at home that she still had the same routines at school, and it afforded us some one-on-one bonding time with the new addition, too. Remember that your big kid will certainly have some adjustment issues, and you may need to be flexible in how you deal with them. At first, I tried to give my older daughter extra attention and love when she acted out, but that seemed to reinforce the behavior. What finally worked was getting a little stricter and setting limits I could stick to. I think she was actually relieved that life got back to its more normal structure when I stopped trying so hard not to hurt her feelings — she needed me to set limits for her just like I always had before! ~Lauren W.

Talk to your older child about what’s coming often throughout your pregnancy. Depending on their age, have them participate in as much preparation for the second baby as possible. My older son helped me decorate his brother’s nursery, helped me wash all of his old baby clothes, and he went with me to almost all of my prenatal appointments. There my midwife answered any questions he had with complete seriousness. Like “how will the baby fit through Mommy’s belly button?” Have extremely relaxed expectations for yourself and your older child after the baby arrives. No matter how much we prepare our kids for the arrival of a sibling, it’s such an abstract concept for them; all kids will react differently. Pamper yourself… get the mani/pedi and prenatal massages you’d wished you’d gotten when you were pregnant the first time around. Splurge on yourself. Accept help when offered. Ask for help when needed. For many, the newborn phase with number two is easier because we kind of know what to expect, what’s normal, what’s not worth freaking out over… so it’s easy to turn down help when it’s offered. I did, repeatedly. But take advantage of the help when it’s there. ~Alex T.

DON’T DO IT! ~Cassie W. (jokester and mom of two)

Prepare your oldest for what’s coming definitely! We talked about the baby all the time while I was still pregnant so he got used to hearing baby. Even though he was not even two when the baby came, he understood she was his sister and was coming home with us to stay. We got him excited for her arrival, which made it so fun for him to finally get to meet her! Also, we potty trained him before the baby came. THAT was key!! ~Heidi C.

Image by Amy Winter Photography

Enjoy the quiet moments with your new little bundle, even if they are at 2:30 a.m. Your house will be anything but quiet during the day! Don’t feel guilty about turning the TV on more than you usually would when your new one arrives to keep your toddler occupied. Feeding, nursing, burping, diaper changes and rocking takes A LOT of time and an extra hour a day of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will not hurt. Get some DVD’s of your older child’s favorite shows too.We kept our two-and-a-half year old in daycare two days per week when our little man arrived. Those days were so blissful because I got to bond with my newbie, take naps together, do errands with him in a wrap and take leisurely walks around the neighborhood. Our toddler got to still see his friends and keep to his routine a few days a week. It was good for all of us. After all, our first son was an only child for over two years and got our undivided attention. Our younger son NEVER got to be an only child. So two days a week of daycare was a wonderful thing for everyone. Freezer meals and quick dinners will be your new best friends! And don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help from others. Whether it’s a meal, some free babysitting or just someone to come over and watch the baby while you spend some quality time 1:1 with your oldest…take the help where you can get it and pay it forward someday. ~Mary Ellen M.

Accept help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for it. Give yourself lots of grace. Prepare yourself emotionally for the changes that will take place in your relationship with your firstborn - you may feel a little disconnected from him/her at first, but your relationship will change and grow in wonderful ways! Get kid-free date nights with your spouse or SO, even if it’s only for an hour and you spend that hour at home on the couch with takeout. Relax and enjoy these sweet, fleeting baby days, knowing that they will pass more quickly with each child you have. Oh, and if you don’t already own one, do your research and invest in a good quality baby carrier that will be comfortable to wear while your baby naps. Get help and practice using it before hand. It will be a very worthwhile investment! ~Christina D.

My kids are 23.5 months apart…we got our daughter a cute “Big Sister” book and started reading it to her immediately after we found out her brother was on his way. We also got her baby dolls and talked about the baby growing in my belly. The hardest was the transition after he was born…she was jealous and I also went through a period of feeling like my routine with her had been disturbed by a “stranger”…her brother. Weird, right? But it happened! About the six week mark we hit our stride as a family of four and honestly, I barely remember life before that! ~Lori W.

One Response to Ask the Mamas: 2nd Time Mama Advice

  1. For the record, I was totally joking about not doing it. Lol. Kids are fantastic! (Thanks Michelle! LOL)

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