When you're expecting your first child, you'll most likely be all consumed in preparing for baby (like I was and like most other first-time moms are!).
I had several apps I consulted frequently that included countless checklists about what to pack for the hospital. I also read many books and endlessly researched the best baby products. My bag was packed months in advance and included a plethora of the latest and greatest newborn gear.
Preparing for baby #2 is a whole different story. In my case, I had an energetic toddler running amok, who was in the throes of potty training. I was teaching kindergarten at the time, which is it’s own brand of energy zap. My husband and I were in the depths of opening our second restaurant. And, of course, my body was busy building a tiny human. In short, I was busy! Never mind cross-referencing checklists, I was lucky I managed to get my parental leave paperwork in.
Amidst the chaos, I did manage to learn a thing or two about preparing for second (third, fourth, or seventh!) babies:
Talk about the new baby and help prepare the elder siblings for their new role as big brother or sister. If you are feeling brave, let the elder brainstorm names for the new baby, although I don’t suggest giving a toddler ultimate naming power, unless you think the baby can live with the moniker Annalula Violetplop. Basically, the more the elder can be involving in preparing for the younger, the easier the transition.
If your kids are close(ish) in age and you still have all the stuff from the eldest, give it new life with the youngest. You may want to splurge on some clothes if the two are different sexes. Both of my children are girls, so I was able to reuse absolutely everything. You can also reuse cribs, playpens, bouncy chairs and the like. The only thing (besides diapers and wipes) that I bought for #2 was a baby swing, because I figured you have to have a few more places to put the baby down. I was right – that swing has saved me on many occasions.
What does a newborn really need?
Diapers - Often the hospital will provide some diapers, but I suggest bringing your own as well. My sweet bundle of joy came out rather large and the pack of tiny, newborn-size Huggies that the hospital provided just didn’t do the trick. Luckily, I had packed some bigger diapers. I like Huggies, because my babies were explosive poopers and the elastic gather at the back waistband contain those leaks better than other brands. They are also soft, snuggly, and mild on freshly minted baby skin. By the way, the little newborn diaper were fabulous for my eldest daughter’s doll who needed to be changed almost as often as the real baby, so they did go to good use!
Wipes - Hospitals often do not provide these. For me, it is vital to have a cleansing product on hand during diaper changes. Wipes are not only great for diaper changes, but also awesome for freshening up sticky toddler fingers before big brother or sister touches the newborn. And remember how you spent ages sterilizing everything for that first baby of yours? Now that I am a second time mom, I find wipes give a good and fast clean to many baby items. I'm a fan of Huggies Natural Care Wipes. I find them thick, durable, and effective, while being gentle on tender little tushies.
A going home outfit - Make it a simple, weather appropriate one-piece, so you aren’t searching for little socks or struggling with fancy ribbons. Don’t worry if it’s the same outfit an elder sibling wore. Seriously, baby doesn’t care and you’ll be gazing at that squishy newborn face in pics, not focused on if the baby is wearing ducky jammies from three seasons ago.
A safe infant car seat - If you are using a hand-me-down from the elder, be sure it’s still in good working order and has not expired (yep, car seats have expiry dates). Ensure it is installed correctly and give it a good cleaning before reusing.
I was told that giving birth is a lot faster the second time around, and in my case it was definitely true. When the labour pains start, you’ll want to get yourself to the hospital, birthing centre, or wherever you plan to have your newest addition - trust me, you won’t want to be scrambling for childcare at that time. Unless you’ve trained your firstborn as your labour coach, be sure you have their caregiver ready and waiting! If your babies are like mine, they only want to come in the wee hours of the morning, so I’d suggest having the caregiver stay at your place so that your eldest can remain in their familiar surrounding.
Snuggles are important for all involved. In recent years, a multitude of studies have documented the incredible power of human touch – it can elevate mood, calm anxieties, improve immune function and promote several other lasting health benefits. In the case of babies, the potential effects of touch are even more profound.
Where I gave birth, the maternity ward walls were adorned with posters touting the benefits of holding and hugging newborns, especially with skin-to-skin contact. Babies who are snuggled more show improved oxygen levels, increased stable heart rate, enhanced sleep, less crying – and the list goes on. Did you know Huggies is dedicated to providing more hugs to the babies who need them? They are working to bring hugging programs to more hospitals throughout Canada. Check out this heart-warming, baby saving program (sorry, but if you are suffering mom hormones, this one will definitely make you cry happy tears).
Don’t stress too much about bringing home baby number two or baby number seven (if that’s your plan!). Each new addition has a way of quickly fitting in and making you wonder how your family ever felt complete without them. And those first, sweet, delicious sibling hugs are one of the most magical parenting moments of all.
The power of touch goes far beyond making babies feel good. Hugging and cuddling are a vital part of healthy development and doctors are placing more importance on hugging than ever before. Thanks to the Huggies® #NoBabyUnhugged program that helps set up baby hugging programs in hospitals, more babies will get the hugs they need.