When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I had grand plans. We would use cloth diapers, I’d exclusively breastfeed for six months, we’d make/buy organic food, and teach our baby sign language in our spare time. Like many expecting parents, we didn’t understand the reality of life with a newborn: sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, breastfeeding with sore nipples, etc.
We knew having a baby would be an adjustment, but we didn’t realize the effect it would have on our marriage, the state of our home, or our health. While we were busy thinking about baby sign language, we forgot something very important—having a support system.
We lived an hour away from close relatives and friends and did not have a strong support network to help carry the load of parenting. No one could stop by while we caught a quick nap or drop by a meal on a particularly rough day. We were struggling, and by the time we were expecting a second baby, we were nervous.
But this time, we knew what to do to prepare. We were no longer new parents learning how to properly burp a crying baby or buying a dozen cute onesies with a million buttons. I had just clawed my way out of postpartum depression and we both knew the signs to look for if it happened again. I had perfected breastfeeding, swaddling, and rocking our baby to sleep enough times to make this transition easier.
So while going from zero to one child can be a bigger challenge for some, here’s why going from one to two kids was easier for my family.
1. We didn’t have to save up to buy many new baby supplies.
From clothing to bottles and bouncers, our house was stocked from baby number one. This made life a thousand times easier because we only needed to purchase a crib and some extra bedding for the new baby. We could instead focus on ways to make our lives easier, like food prepping meals to have postpartum.
2. We prioritized the things that were important in our family.
While feeding our son organic purees was nice in theory, we soon realized baby-led weaning was easier for us (and less expensive). This allowed us to save time food prepping since we could just serve our baby what we were eating. We didn’t have to go through the trouble of buying baby-specific foods, or mashing and pureeing for hours when we would rather catch up on sleep.
Secondly, we no longer beat ourselves up for using screen time to give us a much-needed break. While we don’t like to use it excessively, using it as a tool can save us from losing our patience.
Overall, we’d learn to be more flexible and adapt.
3. I learned to let my husband parent.
There’s no substitute for lived experience. Baby number one allowed me and my husband to practice our swaddling, feeding, and diaper changing skills; so we had built some confidence before we brought home baby number two. Plus, we had already perfected working together so we both felt supported. And I prioritized giving him and our children time together without me hovering and nitpicking, which helped grow their bond.
4. We weren’t afraid to ask for help.
With our first child, I had a lot of anxiety postpartum that made simple things—like having a babysitter or even having my husband go on dad duty while I napped—incredibly difficult. By the time our second child arrived, I was better prepared to manage my anxiety. I talked with a trusted therapist who helped me feel empowered to ask for help or outsource tasks when I felt exhausted.
This allowed me to ask my mother (who very much wanted to help) to babysit at least once a month so my husband and I could go on a date or even just catch up on chores around the house. When we only had one child, we were worried about how the world would perceive us if we asked for help once in a while. But by the time baby number two was born, simply having the skill to ask for help when needed made our lives so much easier.
Other important skills we learned with our first baby, that made transitioning from 1-to-2 kids easier:
- Take an extra bag to the hospital to stock up on the diapers, wipes, mesh undies, etc. your hospital provides.
- If your baby is gassy, doing bicycle movements with their legs can make a big difference; if that still doesn’t work, try using the Windi tool that was invented by a pediatric gastroenterologist to help relieve gas and colic.
- Breastfeeding can be amazing, but formula is great too. Our babies will be eating dirt and dog food soon enough.
- Breastfed baby’s poop is water-soluble, so if you’re cloth diapering, you can throw the diapers right in the wash.
- Baby-wearing can save your back (and your sanity) from babies who need to be held 24/7—especially when you also have a toddler.
- It’s okay to wear headphones while your baby cries. As long as you’re taking care of their needs, you can take a break from hearing their screams on volume 100.