Preparing for Second Baby
If you’ve already got one child – whether they’re a baby, toddler or older child – and are pregnant or planning with number two, this blog post shares some top tips on how to do the juggle that is Baby Number 1 and Baby Number 2! If you’d like to learn more, do visit my online course.
The Age Gap
When is the best time to have a second baby?
If you’ve researched this, the WHO recommends that you wait between 18-24 months between pregnancies. This is very general guidance and, of course, it’s totally up to you and a lot of us (including me!) ignore that advice. A 2018 study recommended that you leave between 12 – 18 months between pregnancies to reduce risks, as well. But, that aside, obviously it’s all about what works for you and your family. In my work, the most common age ranges are between 18 months and 2.5 years.
I believe that there is no such thing as an average ideal age gap. I truly believe that what works for you is the right decision and the best one. I know it’s hard but please don’t expect a perfect age gap. What I have noticed is that if the age gap is under 2 years, I often find here that the physical side of things can be more of a struggle for Mum. If your first child is not walking when you’re pregnant you can get more exhausted, physically. It is worth thinking about the physical aspect, if you’re planning your 2nd. It might also be worth thinking about the equipment – will your first baby still be in the cot, etc? I often find that the challenges are more about management with a smaller age gap – if baby 1 is only 15 months when baby 2 is born, they accept their sibling quite easily. But this does mean, of course, that you have the juggle of the two routines with naps, feeding times, etc.
If you have a slightly larger age gap, around 2 years and up, a potential challenge could be an emotional strain for your older child. Because your child has had your 1-1 attention for longer, they can now communicate their feelings and they’ve potentially gone through large stages of independence, you may notice that they regress a little bit whilst they find their new place. It is important to consider the attention that you give to your first child, reassuring them and that they have your comfort so that they don’t feel the need to act up or upset by what’s happening. With this age gap, you would hope that physically your risks in pregnancy are reduced. There are challenges to each age gap and ultimately it’s about doing what works best for you and your family.
Preparing For The New Arrival
How to prepare your toddler
Talk, talk, talk! Make things normal for your toddler – when things are normal toddlers accept them a lot easier than a surprise. Having equipment around the house, talking to them often about baby coming will all make it a lot smoother once baby arrives.
Role play is a brilliant way to introduce the idea of a baby coming along to expose them to what it’s like when a baby comes along. If you have friends who have young babies, try to organise a couple of playdates so your toddler gets used to hearing a baby cry. There are some great books to introduce the idea, too, such as this Peppa Pig and Baby Alexander one, which is brilliant for this age group. You could buy a doll for your toddler to play with and have lots of role play. Anything you can do to normalise having a baby can be so helpful for your toddler, even if they cannot speak more than 5 or 10 words they can understand much more than they can say so do keep talking and verbalising things about the baby each day so that they come to accept it as normal that a baby will soon be arriving.
You – how will you prepare yourself?
As a Mum of two, I am honest with you when I say that I thought I had things sorted with 1 but, goodness me, when number 2 arrived everything changed! My personal life has changed much more since having two. If you can make the most of time to yourself – shopping, lunches and seeing friends – do enjoy that time right now before you do have two! I would also say spend some time as a 3, really focusing on just being the 3 of you and soak that time up.
How To Manage Both When Number 2 Arrives
Here are my tips for dealing for the transition from 1 to 2 in the early days:
- where possible, it’s always nice for your toddler to continue their normal routine, this could be a music class, nursery, seeing grandparents etc. If you can manage it, it’s so great for them to stick with this because any break in routine is disruptive in itself, but at this time they really crave normality.
- spend a lot of time when the new baby arrives giving as much praise and attention as you can physically give them. Any tiny little thing that they’er doing well, tell them. The more positive language in the way that they are around the baby is going to be so beneficial.
- if there are tantrums, you really want to focus on supporting their confidence and self-esteem. Do say things like “I know it’s frustrating that I can’t feed you right now because I’m dealing with the baby, but as soon as I’m done we are going to have so much fun …” – acknowledge and notice the way that they are feeling and verbalise it, then give them an answer so they feel they’re heard and listened to. This is so important for them during this phase.
Managing a routine with two is covered in my online course, if you’d like more tips and practical strategies do click here.