Transitioning from One Baby to Two (or Three or Four)

Sep 9, 2019

Written by Cara Dumaplin

This post was written to contribute to the topic of motherhood for the What Lola Likes blog by Cara Dumaplin of Taking Cara Babies. All facts, opinions, and professional tips are Cara’s.

Your family is growing! You’ve announced on social media that your child is soon to be crowned “Big Brother” or “Big Sister.” This time is so exciting, BUT… if you catch yourself wondering: “Can I really do this?” please know these are normal feelings. Let me reassure you: “You DO have what it takes to handle your growing family!”

Photo provided by Cara Dumaplin

Here are some tips to help: 

  1. Give everyone some grace! There will be an adjustment period (for you, for your spouse, for the older sibling, and for everyone). Understand that those first few weeks and months may have you feeling a bit out of sorts. Your body is recovering, and your hormones need time to settle too. Don’t worry! It won’t always be this way. Remind yourself that this is just a season. When it comes to your older child, try not to make any big changes in the three months before or after the baby’s arrival if at all possible. For example, moving to a toddler bed, eliminating the pacifier, or potty training. All of these can wait until your family is a bit more adjusted. 
  2. It’s okay if your newborn isn’t on a strict schedule! Naps can happen out and about while you’re in the car or baby wearing. Practice 1-2 naps in the crib/bassinet each day, but don’t stress! A flexible newborn routine truly is possible even if you want to set up healthy sleep habits from the beginning
  3. It will probably feel like you don’t have as much time or attention to give to your second baby compared to your first. This isn’t better or worse; it’s just different! As a first-time parent, you did have more time and attention to devote to the baby. It WILL be different this time. The love will be equally as strong, but don’t let guilt set in if you feel your attention is divided. Remind yourself that all children who are born second (or third or fourth) face this, and they are still well-adjusted people who impact the world in a positive manner. Check out this highlighted story to see some practical ways this can play out with siblings and parents.
  4. Getting out of the house will be more difficult, but it’s still important. Exposure to daylight is good for newborns. It helps them learn the difference between day and night. For mom, both light and getting out of the house also decrease the symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression. For your older child, maintaining a consistent routine will help them adjust to life with a new baby. Toddlers and young children thrive with consistency. Yes, you can keep those playdates for your older kiddo’s sanity (and your own too!).
  5. Plan 1-on-1 time with your older one(s) to do something babies can’t do. Toddlers and young children often face regressions after a baby is born. This is absolutely normal. From their perspective: that tiny baby is getting so much more attention. “Maybe if I do baby things, I’ll get more attention!” Show your older one all the fun things babies can’t do: play at the park, eat ice cream cones, watch cartoons, color pictures with Mommy, go on special rides in Daddy’s car.  
  6. Have special toys for your older one that only come out during the new baby’s feeding time.  There will be times that your newborn needs nearly all of your attention. Keep a plastic bin of new and exciting toys for your toddler. Be very consistent with keeping these ONLY for when your baby is eating or when mommy/daddy is putting the baby to bed. Doing this will help those toys stay special and engaging for when you really need them.
  7. Ask for help! As someone who struggles with asking for help, I want to be the first to say: People who love you WANT to help! After the baby arrives, the question “How can I help?” may feel intimidating. Make a list while you’re pregnant of things you are doing everyday that can be delegated. Think making meals, running to the grocery store, folding laundry, filling your car up with gas, taking your older kiddo(s) to the park.
  8. Lean into your partner. When the number of children increases, it can be easy to have a “divide and conquer” mentality. Sometimes, this is perfect! It can help everyone maintain sanity and keep things running smoothly. However, making your partnership a priority and doing this family thing alongside one another is so important too! Try to plan some activities you can do as a whole family so that you can parent together, and prioritize at least a few minutes each day to spend just the two of you!
  9. Baby #2 (and #3 and #4) will be different from your first. It’s okay that you “still” don’t know how to do everything perfectly. Each baby will bring his or her own unique set of joys and challenges. [Hint: That means my Will I Ever Sleep Again?newborn class is for you too! It’s not just for first-time parents.]
  10. Nobody could do it better than YOU! These babies were meant to be yours, so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Keep in mind that everyone struggles, even moms with Instagram-perfect photos.

Remember, a new baby is a gift for the whole family. Sure, the transition from one child to two (or more) can be challenging, but it can also offer some of the most fulfilling moments ever! You got this!

Cara Dumaplin

Cara Dumaplin is a mom of four, neonatal nurse, and wife of a pediatrician. Her passion is teaching parents how to help their babies sleep with the science of a nurse and the heart of a mama so they can reclaim the joy of parenthood. Follow her over on Instagram and check out her blog for more!