What You Need for Your Second Baby (and What You Really Don’t)

When we were getting ready for Baby #2 (about five months later than we’d started getting ready for Baby #1), I started wondering: What do we really need for this second baby? Don’t we already have everything packed away in the attic? But I quickly realized it wasn’t going to be quite that easy.

We definitely needed less the second time around, but a few smart purchases have made life a lot easier. Now that our new baby boy is four months old (time flies!), I decided to look back at both the things we bought in advance… and the things we scrambled to buy after he got here. (Amazon Prime was a lifesaver with a baby born in the dead of winter!)

Things You Need for a Second Baby (and What You Can Safely Skip)

First of all, I’m writing from my own experience with a second baby, but I’m sure many of these tips apply for your third baby, fourth baby, fifth baby… and so on!

Second, can I give a shout-out to buying things secondhand? I posted a list of things I wanted to buy — including specific brands where I really cared — on a local parent group and saved hundreds of dollars when helpful parents offered up those exact things. Most people are happy to get a little cash and give a good home to something taking up closet space. (Some very generous families even refused to take my money, which was such a beautiful gesture at a time when baby expenses were rolling in.)

What You’ll Want for Your Second Baby

Seasonal and gender-specific items.

If your first baby was born at a different time of year, you’ll want to make sure you have supplies in the right sizes. For our Christmas baby, we needed a warm infant hat, some cozy baby buntings, and a more substantial carseat cover than we needed for our first son, who was born in the fall. If you’re expecting a child of a different sex than your first, you’ll probably want some new clothes, too!

A new (easy!) baby book.

Let’s be honest. It’s hard to keep pace with all the mementos your first baby got. Make it easy on yourself and get a baby book you can actually keep up with, like this adorable one from Lucy Darling. It’s got all the important stuff, room for one photo per month, and — this is genius — it’s spiral bound. That means if you don’t feel like filling out a page, you can just rip it out and no one will ever know you forgot to snap photos of Baby’s First St. Patrick’s Day.

 A crib solution that makes sense.

This really depends on the age of your first child. Maybe he or she has been in a big-kid bed for a while and you can safely re-use all of their sleep spots. Or maybe your kids are really close and you want a whole new crib.

For us, our two-year-old was still sleeping in his crib, but we knew he’d need to transition to a bed soon after our second was born (which made for some crazy sleepless nights, by the way). So we opted for a portable mini-crib that would tide us over until the six-month mark without taking up a ton of space.

We love the Bloom Alma Mini Crib (which we found secondhand on Craigslist). We can wheel it from room to room — or from one side of the bed to the other, depending on whose turn it is to wake up with the baby! Plus, it folds flat, which will make storage easy when we’re done with it.

Pacifiers and bottle nipples.

Apparently, the rubber in pacifiers can break down over time — and replacing them is pretty inexpensive. My second likes the Soothie pacifiers. If your bottles are a few years old, you’ll likely want to replace the nipples, too. Luckily, you can replace most of them a la carte without buying all new bottles.

(Also, if you are breastfeeding, I only just discovered this milk-saver with my second and I love it. I got so much extra milk in those early days of leaking.)

A bag just for your older child.

How cute is this bag?!

If you’re still using the diaper bag for your older child, I’d highly recommend getting a bag that’s just for them. We went for one of the cute Skip Hop toddler animal-themed bags.Sure, you could just throw everything in the same bag. But if your kids are ever in separate spots, even if it’s just during Sunday School or when one goes out with Papa, it’s a headache. We use two bags, even when one of us takes both boys out, because my older son has an Epi-Pen that we don’t want to swap back and forth between bags (which is how I forget things).

More childproofing supplies.

I’ve noticed that parents can have wildly different childproofing philosophies… and kids have wildly different childproofing needs. But if you have a young child and are expecting a baby, you may want to give your strategy a second look.When our second was born, we finally got around to putting doorknob covers on out-of-bounds doors and removing a couple of tempting objects from reach. It’s an extra layer of safety for when I have to take the baby into another room for a diaper change or naptime.

Nursing bras and postpartum clothing.

Dear pregnant readers: I hope you quickly dropped all the baby weight from your first child, have kept in great shape chasing that little one around, and will emerge from your subsequent pregnancies more or less the same size as you did from your first. Many of you will.

But, uh, I sure didn’t.

It was not fun realizing I couldn’t even squeeze into my old nursing bras at first (though they did fit after a few weeks, so don’t toss yours if you have the same problem!). Make sure you have what you need to feel comfortable, even if it’s just a couple things you wash on repeat. Amazon has some good options, and two-day shipping is your friend when you don’t even have a good bra to go to the store in.

I also really enjoyed these Kindred Bravely pajamas this time around; they’re stretchy, nursing-friendly if you need it, and covered enough for visitors. Finally, I know postpartum “belly bands” are controversial, but if you think it may take a while to fit back in your regular jeans, they can be great for holding up full-panel maternity jeans in the meantime.

Whatever you regretted not getting the first time around.

There were a few things I wanted with our first but made do without. But this time, I decided I really wanted that handy grass countertop drying rack and an infant insert for our ErgoBaby. So if there’s there something you always wished you had, consider going for it now, when you’ll get a lot of use out of it!

What You Can Skip for Your Second Baby

Elaborate “big sibling” gifts.

Many people recommend having a “big sibling gift” on hand to reduce jealousy. We bought a cute little stuffed dino for my older son, and he was certainly more interested in that than in the baby at first. But truth be told, everyone was very thoughtful about bringing “a little something for the big brother” when they came to meet the baby. Our toddler was quickly rolling in new toys (especially since it was around Christmas) to the point that it was a bit overwhelming on top of all the changes. If you suspect that the lovely, generous people in your life will do the same (and you know your friends and family!), you can probably safely skip a super-special big sibling gift.

All gender-specific everything.

I have two boys, so I don’t truly know how this feels. And it’s totally fine to get excited about cute ruffly baby girl clothes or sharp little boy bow-ties! But it’s also totally fine for your daughter to show up to the park in a camo coat or for your son to chill in a pink bouncer. I’d also like to give a shout-out to gender-neutral clothing if you think you may have more kiddos down the line. Primary is one of my favorites: well-made basics in play-friendly styles, all in solids and stripes that make hand-me-downs easy.

Again, some of you reading this will be really excited to get all the girl or boy stuff, and that’s OK! (Or you may just get tired of everyone assuming your little girl in a flower headband is a boy just because her car seat cover is blue, which happened multiple times to one of my friends.) But if you need permission to not go crazy, I hereby grant it.

A new car seat (maybe).

I’ve seen advice that you need a new car seat for every baby, but the expert consensus seems to be that as long the seat isn’t expired and hasn’t been in an accident, re-using it is fine. Most are good for about six years. Check the date on yours; you can usually find it either on the seat itself or in the manual. Of course, if the seat IS expired, please DO get a new one! Keep your eyes open for trade-in events where you’ll get a discount for turning in the expired seat. (This article offers a great perspective on why car seats expire if you need some extra convincing.)

I hope these tips help you make smart choices about what to get for the new baby! If you’re looking for more helpful insights from local parents, our resources for families page is a great start.

About the Author

Rachel Matuch
Rachel is a writer and mom of two boys who lives in Woodridge. She recently moved from Downers Grove and grew up in Naperville, but she and her husband have been discovering new things to do now that they’ve got a toddler and baby in tow. Rachel loves cooking, playing board games, and regularly raiding the Woodridge library. She also volunteers with teens at Four Corners Community Church, which makes her feel like an old geezer.

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