You would think having a second child isn’t so bad since you’ve done it before and know the ropes by the time number two comes along, right? And before I had my second, “they” all said having two kids is easy in the beginning because newborns sleep all the time. But did anyone mention I could possibly have a baby with colic? Or that I could feel such mom guilt over Jaxon’s transition to being a big brother?
The first 3 months of Leo’s life were challenging to say the least. Trying to acclimate Jaxon to a new baby when Leo required so much time and energy was extremely tough on me. I constantly struggled with the mom guilt of thinking I couldn’t provide Jax with the attention he needed. Most of our days ended with two kids crying…and sometimes mom was crying, too!
Now that we’ve made it through Leo’s first year, we’re definitely getting the hang of things. Although I don’t feel like I found the perfect equation, I did find a few tricks that really helped in my first few months as a mom of two little ones.
1. Don’t make any sudden moves!
Don’t make any major changes to your oldest child’s schedule before the baby arrives. When I first became pregnant, my sister Katie told me that your first trimester is about all the excitement that comes with finding out you’re pregnant, and your second trimester should be focused on transitioning your second child.
Whether you are potty training, transitioning to a big boy bed, or changing school schedules, you should try to make all major life changes at least 6 months prior to your new baby’s arrival. You never want your firstborn to associate the baby with any tough changes in their life.
For example, many parents reuse their crib for their second child, which is completely fine! But you don’t want to do it so your oldest thinks they are losing their room/bed to the new baby.
2. Spend special alone time with your No. 1.
This tip was the most helpful with Jaxon’s transition in the beginning. It is important to dedicate special time for just you and your first baby. We called it Jaxon/Mommy time, and once a week I dedicated 2 hours to doing something special with just him. No distractions. Just me and my oldest boy.
3. Make room for your firstborn in the nursery.
In the beginning, it’s hard to divide your attention and time, especially when it comes to nursing. I recommend having a basket of toys dedicated to the older sibling in the nursery so when you are nursing or feeding your baby, your older child can feel close to you while also entertaining themselves for a few minutes. The toys should be geared towards independent play so your child can more or less stay busy on their own.
4. Turn bedtime struggles into bedtime snuggles.
Bedtime is one of the most important parts of the day, but it can also be the most stressful time of day. Try to make it an opportunity to spend a little extra one-on-one time with your oldest. Whether you talk about your highs and lows of the day or read books together in bed, invest in your firstborn before they go to sleep.
I found it to be difficult in the beginning to coordinate bedtime with both kids without sacrificing alone time with Jax. As a result, he was acting out and having tantrums, which made it that much more difficult for me. I quickly changed our nighttime routine to put Leo down 45 minutes to an hour before putting Jax to bed. I would let Jax choose a fun activity for us to do right before going to sleep. Sometimes we made a fort or watched a quick show on the TV. He still loves when my husband and I devote our full attention to him together.
5. Use pretend play to your advantage.
When I found out I was having a second child, Katie warned me that feeding time could be challenging as it may make Jax jealous. I actually found a trick that really worked for our family. Together, Jax and I picked out a doll for him to take care of. Just like his mommy, he has his own baby now, too.
When Leo was still little, Jax would sit next to me and bottle feed his baby while I fed Leo. He felt included in the process. Pretend play is such a big part of the 2s and 3s, and he loved being a part of the feeding process with me.
Now that he is a little older he actually sits with me and rubs Leo’s back when we feed him his nighttime bottle. It has become my most cherished moment of the day.
Jax also became more helpful with his baby brother due to having his own baby to care for. He even started asking to help me more with the baby! One day, I saw him wiping baby Leo’s mouth and it may have been the cutest thing I had ever seen. Jax became more and more comfortable with Leo each day that passed after we introduced the doll.
Final Thoughts on Having a Second Child
The transition to having a second child is difficult on everyone, but the news may hit your first child the hardest of all. They’ve had your undivided love and attention their entire lives, and even though they will eventually love having a baby brother or sister, sharing YOU will be hard on them.
Remember to be forgiving and kind, with your first love and with YOURSELF!
And if you have a baby who has colic like Leo did, trust me, it does get better. Each day seemed to get easier as I figured out new ways to soothe him. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!