Adding a new member to your family can be hard – but it can be one of the most wonderful decisions. In this post, we share some of our best tips for transitioning from one child to two. It’s a beautiful time!
Thank you to Kroger for partnering with us on this post
Over three years ago, Oliver joined our family and changed all of our lives forever.
As I’ve shared in the past – I was terrified to add a second child to our family.
I was worried my heart wasn’t big enough to love another child.
(Fact check – the heart has an infinite capacity to love).
I foolishly read all the articles online saying that your life was pretty much over.
(Fact check – it wasn’t. It only made my life better).
And most of all, I worried about how Jack would do with a new baby brother – would he resent me? Would he feel unloved?
(Fact check – giving Jack a baby brother was the best thing we could have done).
Over the past three years, there have been ups and downs with having two children. But I’m pretty sure life would have had ups and downs even if we had just one – or none.
That’s just how life goes.
Adjustments have had to be made. I’ve learned a lot – and I’m sure there’s a lot more I will learn about the complexities of siblings.
But we’ve made it – and our lives just wouldn’t be the same without our sweet (and strong-willed) Oliver.
I know that a lot of parents wonder what it’s like to transition from one to two kids, and since we’ve successfully navigated that, I thought it was about time I shared some advice from my experience. I also asked other parents and have included that at the end of this post.
I think this is one of the most important things you can do – simplify. You may not feel like super mom all the time – but believe me, your kids just want a happy mom.
You have two kids now (or you will soon). You won’t be able to get everything under the sun done, and that’s okay. Eliminate the unnecessary – at least for a little while. And the things that are necessary (laundry, dishes, food, etc.)? Simplify as much as possible.
I’m a big fan of disposable dishes during the first few months after having a baby (even now, sometimes). It helps with the dishes.
I love grocery pickup and delivery. It makes it SO much easier when you don’t have to wrangle around two children at the store.
But most of all, I LOVE ready-to-make meals. These have become increasingly popular in recent months and years, and I’m a big fan. Anything that eliminates the chopping and preparation is a good idea in my book – especially when you are short on time and energy.
I am particularly impressed with Stouffer’s new line of Family Meal Kits. They have three options:
- Tuscan Chicken
- Braised Pork
- Beef Brocolli
They are literally the easiest meal I’ve ever made. You don’t have to babysit the food – just throw them in a couple of pots and the microwave, and in less than 25 minutes you have an AMAZING meal that has protein, vegetables, and whole grains.
Everything is premeasured and preseasoned, so you literally don’t have to do anything but it heat up the food and combine together. But it sure looks like you spent hours, doesn’t it?
As I was making this one, Jack kept saying, “This smells soooooo good.” And afterward he told me no less than five times how much he enjoyed the meal.
It can be easy when you have a new little one to just throw caution to the wind, heat up TV dinners, or order take out every night. But it can get expensive, and it’s not super healthy. I love that these 25-minute meals make it easier to have a wholesome meal without putting in a lot of time.
We paired it with some store bought rolls, and this was one of the best meal we’ve had in a while (I recently had surgery, so my desire to cook has been zero to none). I bought a couple packages at the store, and I know we will be having another one again soon.
Plus, you can involve your older child in the cooking to make it a special time for you to enjoy together (even if you need to put the baby in a baby carrier)
These family meal kits are around $15, and they are available at Kroger stores across the country. I just love their convenience and how they can make it so much easier to simplify your life when you have children.
Own Your New Normal
Life will never be the same – but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Life is constantly changing – and adding a new member to your family is just one way that it will.
You may have to change up routines and shake up what you’re used to – and that’s okay. Accept that you are going to have a new normal now. You went through that when having your first child and you survived. You will now, too.
It will be Different than Your First
Even though we had a lot of problems with Oliver’s health during his first few months…I didn’t feel as on edge as I did with Jack. I had a better idea of how to take care of a newborn,
You may find yourself not able to sleep as much when your baby sleep or just sit there and hold them because you have another child to take care of. It’s okay to feel sad about that! Just take all the moments where you can sit there and bask in your little one’s newness. And enjoy seeing your oldest find their new role as big sibling. It’s pretty cool!
Involve the Older Child
Regardless of age, there is always a way you can involve the older child. You don’t want them to feel like the baby is something they can’t be around or that they should be scared of. Of course, they need to learn that the baby is new and you have to be gentle (and that they shouldn’t feed them popcorn…which Jack tried to do), but let them be as involved as they can.
It can be as simple as helping them hold them, grabbing diapers if you need them, or just helping to put a pacifier in their mouth. If your child is older, they can do more. But even if they are still quite young, find a way to let them be involved.
I am a HUGE advocate for babywearing. It has been so helpful for me with both of my children. When I have a mother ask me how they can handle having two children that need them (especially during the fourth trimester, when your baby doesn’t want you to put them down), the first thing I recommend is babywearing.
It may take some time to find the best baby carrier for your situation, but it can truly change your life. My boys lived in my carrier, and it helped so, so much. Babies feel nice and close to their mommy, and you can have your hands freed up to help your older child.
Treat the oldest their age
As much as I didn’t mean to, I subconsciously treated Jack older than he was starting the day we brought Oliver home from the hospital. Honestly? I sometimes still do.
Something crazy happens when you have a new baby. Your older child – regardless of their age – seems to grow up overnight. Even though they are still the same maturity level as they were the day before, it just feels different.
Make sure you remember they are still the same age they always were and don’t expect perfection from them.
My friend, Hilary, said the best advice she was given was to remember that the older one has feelings – and the newborn really doesn’t (at least not in the same way). Be considerate of your older child. Imagine your spouse brought home a new girlfriend to live at your house – she might be a little cuter, may need more attention, and she’s not going to leave (but your spouse wants you to stay around, too, because he still loves you). You probably wouldn’t feel very happy about this new arrangement (also thanks to Hilary for sharing this analogy).
That’s kind of how it might feel to your child as you bring a new baby in the home. They were your whole world – and while you certainly don’t love them any less (in fact, you probably love them even more), they might feel a little like they’ve been replaced. Try and be patient with them as they figure out this new life just like you are. If your child is younger – it can be hard for them to verbalize their feelings, and they may express it in ways you don’t love (like throwing things). But just remember, their whole world just totally changed!
Parenthood is all about changing your expectations. How you imagined being a mother is probably not really how it is. Hopefully, it’s better in many ways, but I’m sure there are curve balls that have come you never thought would.
BE FLEXIBLE. Show up every day – even if you’re in pajamas and don’t have your hair brushed. It can be hard to have your plans and days not be predictable, but it will be okay. Just do the best you can and adjust as you go. You will all survive.
Your Children are Different
This is another one I’ve had to learn the hard way. Our kids are different! It seems like a pretty standard thing to know…but it’s easier to forget than you might realize.
My kids have a lot of similarities, but their temperaments are SO different. Jack has always been pretty mellow and goes with the flow. Oliver…much more strong-willed and opinionated.
Jack took naps until he was 4.5.
Oliver fought them SO bad starting at the age of 2. I thought that since Jack took them for so long, Oliver should to.
But I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t going to happen, and our lives were happier because of it.
You can have similar parenting philosophies – but be willing to change your view of how your child should be and accept them for the child they are. Both the younger and older one!
Make an effort to do special dates with your older child. This can be a great way to have one-on-one time where they can feel like the center of your world again.
Trust in Resilience
Children are resilient. I often think about when my sister, Diana, was pregnant with her daughter Scarlett. She was SO sick and tired, and it was during the summer so her kids were home all the time. She felt gulity she wasn’t being more of a fun mom. But my mom recalls going over there and hearing them say, “This is the best summer ever!”
The newness of having two children will pass, and eventually, everyone will figure it out. Even if you aren’t super mom – your children are resilient. Do the best you can. Your child will forgive you for any shortcomings – the hardest part is forgiving yourself. But it’s essential.
Many older siblings will go through some kind of behavior change when the new baby arrives. Some children will want nothing to do with the baby, others will suddenly decide they are the parent as well. Some will regress in behavior. And some will handle it amazingly well.
A lot of this will have to do with their age.
I was very lucky with Jack. He loved Oliver from the moment he was born, and he didn’t experience any huge behavior changes. However, if your child starts acting out or anything like that – just know it’s normal.
I do recommend avoiding any big changes right before the baby is born (potty training, transitioning to a new type of bed, etc). I typically see most regression happening in those areas, so it’s better to wait until baby is born, in my opinion, to introduce any other big changes.
Babies can wait
It’s important to choose your oldest child when you can. There will be many times where you will have to tend to the baby and put off helping your older child with something – and that can be hard. However, your baby can wait a few seconds or minutes so you can tend to your older child.
More advice from Hilary – there will be times when you want to scream at the toddler and coo at the baby. But you shouldn’t do it. Be patient. Remember that your oldest child needs love and attention to – and they need to know that they are still important to you. Purposefully choose to help them.
When Jack came to the hospital to meet Oliver, we had Jack “give him” a gift. He loved it! It was just something small, but it made him feel special – especially in such a strange place like a hospital.
On the flip side, we had Jack pick out a book to give Oliver. He chose it before he was born, and then he gave it to him when he came home. I loved this, and so did Jack.
I recommend this to all moms – whether they are having their first or sixth baby. But accept help – especially when it pertains to your older child. I was so grateful to have my mom and dad near by when Oliver was born, because they helped with him so much. In fact, I feel like part of the reason Jack adjusted so well was that my parents were there to make him feel extra special when I wasn’t around.
If someone offers to watch your child for awhile – let them. They want to bring you a meal – say yes. You don’t have to do everything alone and accepting help is important. You have less hands than ever now!
And if you need help and no one is offering – don’t be afraid to ask. I can almost guarantee there are people who are more than willing to help – they just either don’t think to ask, or they assume you don’t need it.
Routine is Key
The first few weeks of having a new baby in the family might not have much of a routine – and that’s okay. I encourage you to embrace that!
However, as the baby gets a little bit older, make sure you have a routine that your older child can rely on. The baby will find their way to fit into that, but I do think children appreciate routines. Make sure your older child has something consistent that they can rely on – even if it’s just something like brushing their teeth and reading a bedtime story every night. It helps a lot.
When Oliver was born, Forrest started reading a book (sometimes many books) with Jack at night. They still do that to this day, and it’s always been a special thing for them. I’m grateful that they started that then, because it became something Jack could rely on.
Take time for you
One more child means one more human that needs you to take care of them. And it can be easy to feel like you never get any time to yourself – and that is SO hard. It’s easy to feel like you are drowning with one child – and adding another one can exasperate that feeling.
But do whatever you can to take some time to yourself each day. Maybe that means putting the baby in a bouncer, turning on Daniel Tiger for the older child, and taking a five-minute shower. Maybe it’s hiding in the closet to eat a piece of your favorite chocolate. Maybe it’s turning on an audiobook to listen to as you rock the baby in one hand and build a block tower with the other. I don’t care! Just do what you can to give yourself that time.
I’ve already said it – but I’ll say it again. There is NOTHING better in my opinion than seeing your oldest child become a sibling. Over the last almost 3.5 years, I have loved to see them bond. They have started playing so well together now, and Forrest and I can often just let them play together without any interference from us. It is beautiful.
There will come a moment where you look at your children and think, “Wow. This has been so worth it.” And maybe the next moment you’ll think, “What was I thinking?! I can’t handle two kids?!” But as you hold onto those moments where it all feels worth it, it will help you get through those harder times. Because it is so. worth. it.
Advice from Other Mothers
My experience has been my own – and I know that other mothers have had differnet ones in regards to transitioning from one child to the next.
“Remember this mantra… “This too shall pass”. And if you need a moment take it.” – Sheena
“Take time to yourself. Take a shower every day. That’s atleast 5 mins alone. Remember to make time for your first one because they’re gonna feel replaced.” – Chadee
“I’m only 3 weeks into life with two but babywearing has saved me. And I take everyone up on their offers to help, with anything.” Kayleigh
“Well I’m only into my 3rd week with my newborn and have a two year old as well. My situation is a little abnormal as I have lots of help at home, but I will say accept help when it’s offered and don’t feel guilty napping or going to bed early…and I mean like 6pm early.” – Christina
“Newest is 9 wks and oldest was 2 in Aug (almost exactly 2 years apart). Having special activities to pull out for her when she’s being extra needy during nursing time were great- sticker books, special coloring pages (took them out of the books and used separately so they seemed extra special) and play do were our favorites. I also started working with her before baby on getting herself up into the car seat to sit and standing in one spot next to me while I loaded things (I tell her to put her hand X (on the tire, headlight etc) and it’s been a great help when I have to click baby in first. I also second a carrier. If I have to go out with both of them where I can’t carry the car seat in a cart then wearing baby and pushing her works best. She also doesn’t feel left out I don’t think since baby sleeps and I can pretty much focus on her.” – Rachel
“TRY to take time for yourself every day. I say it… but don’t do it. I know it’s hard to find the time. People have offered to help and I haven’t taken anyone up on it…yet I’ve had quite a few meltdowns where I’m holding my baby and trying to put my toddler to sleep but crying at the same time. I just keep thinking this is such a short period and will pass before I know it. And oddly, I’ll probably miss it. Hang in there!!! You got this! Just take it day by day.” – Stephanie
“We sent our oldest to the sitters 1 day a week so that he could have some time playing and socializing with kids his age and I could have a chance just to be with the new little.” – Julie
“I have a 2 and 1 year old. They’re 13 months apart. Although it’s hard at first, my boys are the best of friends and always have someone to play with.” – Charlotte
“I’m a mommy of 4. And my oldest just turned 6 in October. Make sure you make time for you. If you have to hide for a moment than do it. And don’t be afraid to have mess ups cause they will happen. Some days you will want to cry and it’s okay to do that. Just make sure you keep yourself too.” – Mandie
“Make sure you involve the older sibling so they dont feel left out, even if it’s just silly things like helping pick out babies outfit or what toy to play with. Also realize it’s okay to rely on others for this short period while you transition.” – Alyssa
“We were super nervous/anxious to see our first son’s reaction- after all he was the center of our universe for 2.5 years!! Since I had my induce date set, we had a “Steel weekend” (my first sons name) and did everything he wanted to do, just to celebrate him being an only child for a couple more days. He had a blast. We incorporated him in everything during my pregnancy too. We even got him a baby brother doll to teach him things he could help out with. He’s an AWESOME older brother and I can’t brag enough.” – Lidia
“I think it’s so much fun! Mine are 20months apart; one is 2 yrs the other 5months. One thing that I found heartbreaking is that time feels like it flies by even faster than ever. Moments and growth are happening so quickly; stages are coming and going and you struggle to hold them to memory. It’s so sad but I guess the saying that the days are long but the years are short rings very true.” – Nicole
“Have a three year old and a two week old. Let them help with as much as possible let them feel involved. And understand when they act out a little ots rough on them at first lots of positive praise and attention.” – Alexandrea
“I have a 2.5 year old son with Down syndrome and a 5 month old typically developing daughter. I wanted them close together so my son would have a best friend who he could develop with. Things like, we will probably potty train them at the same time. However it has been tougher than I anticipated. Having 2 in diapers, 2 that can’t walk or talk etc has been exhausting. If I could go back I probably would have waited another year. I know it will be worth it when they are older though. My words of wisdom are accept help when it is offered. Give yourself lots of grace. Do what works for you. And embrace your crock pot.”
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.