Passionate About the Community
and the Moms Who Live Here

What I Wish I Knew Before There Were Two

There’s a common refrain you hear from people who have two kids:

“One is one. Two is twenty.”

As a woman who’s 7 months pregnant with her second child, that’s not very comforting. And as a woman who’s frazzled enough wrangling a toddler in the throes of his “threenager” phase, the thought of adding a baby to the mix has me freaking out a bit. Okay. A LOT.

Plus, I’m an only child. I never had to fight for my parent’s attention. Never had to wear hand-me-downs. Never had to share my toys or my room. It was pretty great. But it gave me zero experience with this whole sibling thing.

So, I reached out to my mom friends near and far who have two or more children, asking for their advice – what they wished they knew before there were two. I wanted the good stuff, the nitty-gritty, the specifics. Not just, “it’s hard, but you’ll figure it out.” 

Their responses ranged from hilarious:

“Abandon them at a fire station, change your name and move to Costa Rica!”

“Can I say drink more wine? LOL. Really, though. I always make sure I’m well stocked.”

“Dum Dum suckers! Have lots of Dum Dum suckers!!!”

To downright practical:

The Fisher Price Rock ‘n’ Play was a life changer!!! To prevent reflux, we kept our babies upright for 30 min after feeding. When we had the second and had twice the kids to entertain — and potty train! — this allowed us to put the baby down immediately after feeding.
– Heather Deeter Caserta, Sarasota, FL, mom to Caleb (5) and Kylie (3)
Baby wearing will save your life. I used a Boba Wrap for the first 6 months or so – my newborn fell asleep instantly in the wrap. When he was older we used the Baby Bjorn and liked it. We also have a Lille Baby carrier.
– Ann Sweeney, Sarasota, FL, mom to Joey (2) and Brendan (1)
And everything in-between. Here are the best bits of what I gathered.

On Introducing Your Toddler to the New Baby

The best advice I received was to introduce the baby to my older son as “his baby” because it’s human nature to want to take care of what’s yours. This also makes it more about him rather than a new baby that is Mom and Dad’s. I also gave him responsibilities to help with the baby. Giving him small jobs made him feel needed, proud, like a big boy. I would ask him to get me a diaper or help me feed “his baby.” It’s amazing how different it can be when the older one is the helper and not trying to vie for your attention! 
– Irene Vanderstelt, Cincinnati, OH, mom to Hayden (7) and Beckham (4)

When Devlin came to the hospital to meet his baby sister, I made sure I wasn’t holding her and only focused on him. He sat in the hospital bed with me and then Daddy introduced baby Abigail to him. She also gave him a really cool present, so he instantly liked her.

At home, I would say to Devlin, “Abigail needs my help and then I can help you next.” When the baby was calm, I’d tell the baby, “You need to wait a minute so I can help big brother,” so he would feel important.
– Katie Ohrenberger, St. Louis, MO, mom to Devlin (4) and Abigail (1.5)

On Taking Care of Yourself and Your Partner

Start eating clean. When you have two, you default to whatever is fast and easy, but you end up gaining weight and stop caring for you. Just simplify the food in your home and eat clean. My kids are way healthier when their guts are all in a good place and everyone is eating well.
– Lindsey Nickel-de la O, Sarasota, FL, mom to Evie (7) and Amelia (16 months)
Be a team as parents. You have to support one another, communicate, take the time to be a couple and help each other have time alone. If it’s been a long day with work, shuttling the kids, managing the house, and my husband acknowledges and says, “Go take a shower and relax, I got this.” It means the world. On the flip side, his gym time is something he loves. It keeps him sane. It makes him a better person, a better parent. I try, although sometimes I struggle, pending how the day has been, to support his time to go.
– Kate Sepe, Scottsdale, AZ, mom to Eliza (5) and Liam (16 months)

On Bonding with Each Child

When Liam was a newborn, I survived by daycare for Eliza. She was in daycare before, but that didn’t change, even though I was home for 3 months. I wanted the quiet time with Liam, to enjoy having this little baby. And in so many ways, I enjoyed it more the second time around. I wasn’t as nervous, I knew what to expect. So, I was more in the moment with him. Having Eliza gone for the core of the day allowed us to really bond. And it made me better at engaging with her when she returned home.
Also, divide and conquer. We try to coordinate it so neither of us is tackling unnecessary activities with both kids. This not only allows each of us a little bit of a breather, but it also ensures we spend one-on-one time with either child. Not to mention, with their age gap of 4.5 years, Eliza just does more scheduled activities, birthday parties and other outings. It’s not always fun for her, or us, to have a very curious, busy toddler in the mix.
– Kate Sepe, Scottsdale, AZ, mom to Eliza (5) and Liam (16 months)
Something we did was plan special one-on-one time with our older son, Garrett. Home Depot has a great Kids Workshop on the first Saturday of each month, so that was a fun “Daddy & Garrett” activity he looked forward to. One thing I would have done differently, though, was doing it more with me and Garrett too. Being that my husband, Jason, was away quite frequently for work and I nursed Grant, it was easier for Jason to take Garrett out, whereas I think it’s equally important for Mom to spend some quality time with child #1. 
– Kate Rogers, Sarasota, FL, mom to Garrett (5) and Grant (3)

On Sibling Relationships

I wish I would have known how much #1 was going to love #2. I remember feeling guilty that #1 wasn’t going to get all the attention anymore! It all melted away when I saw how much he loved his brother!! 
– Megan Gilley, Centerville, OH, mom to Evan (10) and Nate (7)

And the Sweetest, Simplest Advice I Received

When your firstborn wants to be held, put the baby down and hold them. The baby won’t notice, but your older child will.
– Erika Foster, Sarasota, FL, mom of Matthew (7), Caroline (5), David (5) and Lily (4)
Thanks to all the moms who shared their stories, struggles and suggestions with me! And fingers crossed that “I got this.”

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