Making the transition from one to two kids is a bit of a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, you’ve got experience the second time around so you won’t feel quite so lost when it comes to breastfeeding, nappies and sleep.
On the other hand, you now have two little ones to deal with and only one pair of hands!
Having two children in less than two years was definitely like this for me. I was excited to go into parenthood with more information and confidence, however I had a toddler on my hands who needed a lot of attention!
If you’re expecting your second child then you are probably a bit nervous, because you can remember how tough just one baby was to deal with.
So I’ve put together my guide to making the transition from one to two children as smooth as possible.
You can also read some of my other posts about having a baby and a toddler: Best products for two under two
If you have any questions at all, please get in touch or drop a comment at the end of the post.
1. Plan where your eldest will be in the early days
If you can hand your eldest child over to a relative or friend to care for in the early days (and during your labour too) then that will make life easier.
Make a plan a few weeks before your due date so that you know your babysitter is available at the right dates and you have a handover plan.
Making things as calm as possible will make it easier on you and your eldest.
2. Get your eldest child involved
Kids love to help out and do grown-up things.
Find tasks that your eldest child can do to help you out. In order to make this easier, think about planning the baby’s nursery so that your eldest can reach things like clothes and nappies.
Asking them to hand over a nappy or pick out an outfit are simple things, but your eldest child will love feeling like they are your special helper.
3. Work around your first child’s routine
This is quite an unsettling time for your older child, so sticking to their routine will help them feel a little less stressed out.
Newborn babies have zero routine, and will likely nap on the go wherever you are. Fit your daily activities around what works for your toddler, and allow your baby to nap either in a sling, in the pushchair or in the car.
4. Sleep whenever you can
This is absolutely essential. I realise that every single newborn baby tips list includes sleep on it, but that’s because it is such a vital thing to keeping your cool.
If you can grab an extra hour, always take that extra hour.
5. Don’t be afraid to use the TV as a babysitter
I don’t know why we beat ourselves up over screen time. Honestly, I don’t think there is any harm in using the telly to distract your child for a couple of hours so that you can pass out on the sofa.
When it comes to toddlers and pre-schoolers, having on-demand TV has been an absolute lifesaver for me! We have an Amazon Fire TV Stick which we use to stream back-to-back Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Peppa Pig and Max & Ruby. I wouldn’t be without it and our Prime membership.
6. Find ways to spend time with your eldest
If your baby is a good napper then this will give you a chance to spend quality time with your eldest.
If they’re not, try to find a way to keep yourself hands-free so that you can play with your eldest.
A sling can be a really good way of keeping your baby close but freeing up your hands for other things. You may want to shop around a bit for a sling that works best for you, but at home the cloth ones are nice and cosy.
7. Entertain your first child without having to move
Find toys and puzzles that your eldest can play with on the floor or next to you on the sofa that don’t require too much input from you.
Get things that are targeted at their age group and use them to keep your eldest entertained.
My eldest just loves building so things like her Lego, Mega Blocks and dolls can keep her quiet for quite a while.
You can make up a box of toys to entertain them with that you keep next to you on the sofa for when you are stuck breastfeeding your baby.
8. Find a way to maintain your sanity
It might be a new TV series to binge, the occasional bath or going for a walk without the kids. Whatever it is, think of a way that you can relax at least once a week.
Staying sane is going to be your key to making it through the transition!
I recommend trying to read a book, painting your nails, doing a face mask and definitely Netflix.
9. Get your eldest a gift from the baby
This is a really cute way of helping your two children bond a little quicker.
There’s bound to be a certain amount of resentment from your first child as they see a younger sibling taking up so much of your time and attention.
Buy a soft toy from your child’s favourite TV show or a DVD that they will love and say it’s from the new baby.
10. Make mealtimes easier
Meal planning is essential in the early weeks with a baby. Try to plan for meals that you and your toddler will eat. Choose meals that are simple to cook and don’t leave a huge amount of washing up.
When it comes to weaning your youngest, have a small food processor that can chop up whatever you are having into a puree so that you don’t have to cook more food.
I love this Kenwood Mini Chopper. I’ve had it for years and it’s really useful for making pastes for things such as curries and marinades as well.
11. Take shortcuts on the housework
I realise that a messy house can be unbearable. I hate having a messy house.
During your pregnancy, try to organise your storage so that tidying things up is easy. Think of boxes that can organise toys and products so that getting stuff out and putting it away is a quicker process.
When it comes to cleaning, strip it back to the basics on just do the toilets and floors. Dusting can wait for a few weeks!
Check out my post about keeping your house clean when you have kids for lots of tips.
12. Read stories together
My eldest has always been a big fan of books. I tried to get some books with a message about new siblings that she can relate to.
One of our faves was Angelina Ballerina and the New Baby.
13. Don’t be afraid to hide at home
It’s totally fine to spend a few weeks hiding out at home. To be honest, I think it’s kind of vital for new mums to “pull up the drawbridge” and take some time to get used to their new little one.
When it comes to going out, plan short and simple trips that won’t be too stressful for you.
14. Get a double buggy
We had the Baby Jogger City Select and this was brilliant. You can use it with a seat and carry cot, or a seat and car seat, so it’s really versatile.
15. Get a buggy board
If you don’t fancy investing in a completely new pushchair then add a buggy board to your existing one. There are loads on the market and toddlers love them!
Ours was so handy from when my eldest was about 2.5years. I would say before two they may be a little too young to stand on a board for an entire journey. You could pop the baby into a sling and push the buggy with the toddler in.
It’s about finding the products that will work best for you logistically, everyone is different so check out the products in store and make a decision for yourself.
16. Think about your changing bag
Now that you’re carrying stuff for not one child, but two, it’s a good idea to think if your existing changing bag is fit for purpose.
I recommend a backpack as you can go hands-free with this. The Storksak Hero Backpack is fantastic and has lots of space, plus it’s really light.
17. Create a play space for your little one
You may already have a play mat that your eldest child used, but if you don’t already I highly recommend investing in one. It’s good to have a spot on the floor where you can pop the baby down and they will be comfy.
Try to give them their own little corner of the room where you spend most time during the day. It’s likely their sibling will be a frequent visitor but it’s nice if they can have a spot of their own.
18. Streamline your life
Look for tiny things that will make a big difference to you in terms of convenience.
For example, make sure you have a spot to keep your changing bag, keys, purse etc and leave it there at the end of every day so it’s easy to find in the morning.
Get shoes that are easy to slip on and off without needing to use your hands, because most of the time you will probably be holding a child or trying to stop one from running away.
Always have spare wipes and nappies in your car. Better yet, have a change of clothes for all of you in there too!
19. Plan activities that both kids can enjoy
This can be tricky if you have a wider age gap, but it can make days out a lot less painful and helps the days pass quicker if you get out of the house for a bit.
Soft play is good because they often have a section for smaller kids and one for older children. Of course soft play can also be extremely stressful, so don’t do it if it’s just going to make your day harder.
The playground in summer is a nice activity, as you can sit on a blanket with your youngest while your older child has a run about.
A nice long walk is good for both kids and hopefully the fresh air will tire them out!
20. Get help at bedtime
If your other half is around at bedtime, it’s great to each take a child and give that child a bit of one-on-one time at bedtime. We swap who does who every night.
If your other half isn’t around to help you, try to make bedtime easier on yourself. Get a bath seat as that means you can bathe both kids together safely. I use the Angelcare Soft Touch Bath Support
Get your baby out of the bath first and dress them in the bathroom, so that you aren’t leaving your eldest unattended in the bath. Have a small changing mat that you keep in the bathroom to help with this.
Most kids can get a bit fraught at bedtime, so if it’s all a bit stressful just take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
Be firm on what time your eldest goes to bed, because they need a decent sleep and you need the break.
21. Don’t expect too much of yourself
We all know that the supermum struggle is totally real. We are all always trying to be perfect and when we fail we beat ourselves up over it.
Try to remember that you’re only human. If the washing didn’t get done today, or both kids cried for hours on end, try to remember that parenthood is a tough gig. It’s not going to be rainbows and fairytales every single day, but try to stay positive as much as possible. It won’t always be this hard!
In the first few months I was up all evening, and most of the night, with my screaming baby and then up first thing in the morning with a toddler who no longer napped in the day.
It’s hard work, so be easy on yourself and remember it’s totally acceptable for everyone to spend all day in their PJs.
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