How to prepare for your second child
By Sabrina Rogers-Anderson
There are so many things about having a baby that are easier the second time around: you already know how to care for a newborn, your body is accustomed to chronic exhaustion, and you have an endless supply of chocolate in your pantry.
But there will be plenty of new considerations and challenges too. Here are 12 tasks to get done before your second bubba arrives.
1. Call your health fund
If you have private health insurance, you probably don’t remember which pregnancy and childbirth costs are covered. Call your health fund to find out so you can make some important decisions about where and how you want to give birth.
2. Rest as much as possible
If you have a toddler, you probably just laughed out loud after reading that heading. But running after a pint-sized tornado all day will really take it out of you when you’re pregnant, so rest whenever you can. Resist the urge to set up the nursery while your child naps and just have a rest instead. When your partner gets home from work, take half an hour to put your feet up. The last thing you need is to be on the edge of a burnout when your baby arrives.
3. Prepare your big kid
Many parents can’t contain their excitement, so they tell their child that they have a sibling on the way as soon as they find out. But nine months can be a long time for a young child to wait – and they’re likely to let the cat out of the bag as soon as they know, so consider holding off until you’re ready to tell the world. When you do tell your big kid, point out all the positive aspects of having a sibling. If there’s a bigger age gap between your children, you can get your firstborn excited by telling them how they’ll be able to help you with the baby – but be sure to reassure them that you’ll still have time for them, too.
4. Sort through your baby gear
Get all your baby items out of storage and sort them into two piles: items to toss or give away because you can’t reuse them, and items to refresh by washing them or changing their batteries. Make a list of all the new gear you’ll need to buy and stock up on baby essentials such as nappies, wipes, onesies, baby bottles and dummies.
5. Baby-proof your house (again)
It’s time to look at the house through baby eyes again, so start baby-proofing now. Big-kid toys can be dangerous for babies, so pack away small items (like Legos and marbles) into a special box you’ll only pull out when you’re there to supervise.
6. Organise care while you’re in hospital
You’ll need to enlist a friend or family member to care for your child when you’re in labour. Make the necessary arrangements well ahead of time and consider packing an overnight bag for your child that the carer can easily grab.
7. Buy a double pram
Have a toddler or a preschooler who loves to do runners into oncoming traffic? A double pram is a must for your sanity.
8. Reorganise your nappy bag
If you’re still using a nappy bag, it’s probably full of stale biscuits and broken toys. Clean it out and fill it with baby supplies including a change mat, nappies, wipes, bibs, spare clothes and dummies. Make sure to place some emergency snacks, toys and spare outfits in there for your eldest too.
9. Have a special day with your big kid
Before your baby arrives, plan a special day out with your child. Ask them what they’d like to do and spend the day trying to say “yes” to all their wishes (within reason). You’ll probably be saying “no” more than you’d like to once your little one is here!
10. Make an activity tub
Buy a plastic tub from a discount store and fill it with games, toys, colouring books, textas and other activities to keep your child occupied when you have to feed or change your baby. This tip saved me when I was breastfeeding twins and I had an antsy two-year-old!
11. Buy gifts for your children to exchange
Each one of my twins gave their big sister a present when they were born. I bought them, of course, but my eldest didn’t question the purchasing power of newborns and she still cherishes her tea set and Mr Potato Head to this day. We also helped our big girl choose cuddly teddies that she was so proud to give to her new sisters.
12. Enlist or hire help
No matter how self-sufficient you think you are, you’ll need some help in the first few weeks or months (or years, if you can get it!). Don’t be shy to assign specific tasks to family members who want to help. If you can afford a cleaner or a nanny for a while, go for it. It will save your sanity!