We’ve all heard the jokes about second child syndrome, right? Second children have fewer pictures taken of them. They get away with more because our attention is divided between them and their older sibling, and because what didn’t kill the first child probably won’t harm the second one either. Second children get the more relaxed vibes that come from more seasoned parents, but they also get the hand me downs and the leftovers.
And unless you’re having multiples, or a baby of the opposite gender of your first child(ren), your second child likely isn’t getting many new items from a baby registry, either. Diaper pails are built to trap smells for more than one infancy, and you probably feel that you need to use the baby swing for at least one more baby to get your money’s worth. So you’re probably not registering for much for that second baby. You already have everything you need, right?
Second baby registries aren’t about the second baby. They’re about your first. Second child syndrome strikes again.
If I could redo our second baby registry, here’s what I would have registered for to prepare for our second child:
A newborn lounger and a baby carrier
You might have one or both of these from your first child, but even if you do, you probably want a different one that works better for your baby-wearing preferences, the weather, or your changing body type. Now’s the time to request an upgrade. Yes, your second baby will be nesting in the carrier, but that’s because you will need both hands free to wrangle your older child.
2. Indoor toys, puzzles, art supplies and more to occupy child No. 1.
Bless those friends and family who offer to get something for your older child so they won’t feel left out of all the fuss being made about the new baby. Those gift givers aren’t just doing something nice for your oldest; they’re offering YOU a life line, too. You’re going to need more activities than you think to occupy your firstborn while you feed, diaper, feed, bathe, feed, soothe, and feed your second baby some more. My daughter does puzzles and crafts while I take care of household chores. Painting projects and Magic Wonder coloring pages occupy her long enough for me to take a shower without her coming upstairs to find me. She loves stickers, stamps, and watercolors, too. I don’t even care if she ends up stamping her entire arm like she’s planning out a future tattoo sleeve as long as she lets me use the bathroom for five minutes. Whatever indoor activities your older child is into, put those toys on your registry.
3. Chalk, bubbles, balls and other outdoor toys
In addition to her balance bike, hula hoops and slide, we’ve been having big summer fun with outdoor toys like bubbles. We’ve made obstacle courses and hopscotch boards from sidewalk chalk. The baby watches from his stroller or a blanket as my older child learns how to throw and catch a wiffle ball and a Frisbee. When cabin fever really sets in, we wrap our wrists with duct tape and go find flowers to stick to the tape to make nature bracelets. If your child is older, they may be able to handle water balloons or squirt guns.
We LOVE books and read at least 4 or 5 every day. We read together while I feed the baby, before naps and before bed time. Animal books, fairy tale books, rhyming books, used books, new books – they all delight my older child and keep her entertained and curious.
If you’re into reading, put some desired titles on your registry for you, too. You’re going to have some quiet moments when the kids are in bed for the night. Give your eyes a break from scrolling your news feed and read a chapter instead.
5. A list of appropriate YouTube videos
Sometimes you need a short video break. Some good, slightly educational, always fun YouTube channels that hold my preschooler’s attention:
- How Ridiculous
- PBS Kids
- Pinkfong! Kids’ Songs and Stories
- Alvin Ailey Dance Company
- Cosmic Kids Yoga
- Physics Girl
- Sesame Street
- The Backyard Scientist
6. A list of recommended Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu/Apple TV shows for you
Mom needs time to zone out, too. Ask your friends which shows or movies they’re into at the moment, then add them to your maternity leave watch list. You’re going to spend a lot of time feeding your newborn. When you need a break from staring at their adorable face, reach for that watch list.
With two kids underfoot now, and a feeding schedule that changes every few weeks, cooking has taken a temporary backseat to takeout and ready-to-heat meals. Meals from friends and family that keep us nourished are some of the best baby gifts that aren’t directly for the baby. Home-cooked meals, takeout from local restaurants, and gift certificates are all welcome.
8. Drinks for Mom and Dad
I’m half joking, but half serious about this one. Whatever your beverage preferences, wrangling multiple children merits a drink of your choice at the end of the day, whether that drink is wine, beer or iced tea. Certain beverages may help increase your milk supply, so don’t be bashful about asking for refreshment. It’s for the benefit of your baby, after all.
Sure, you could request diapers and wipes, onesies, and other essentials for the baby. But in my experience, your newborn is going to be just fine with hand-me-downs while your older child will need a whole new set of activities. Add necessities for them to your second baby registry. You can make it up to your second baby when they’re older!