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The one piece of parenting advice second-time moms need to know

You’d think that when you’ve done it once, having a second baby should be piece of cake. Right? Although there certainly are advantages (look at you, diaper-changing pro!) there are also unique challenges that come with expanding the family for a second time. You’ve already got your first kiddo to worry about, and now you’re about to restart the clock on sleepless nights.


Because we’re willing to bet there is already enough on your plate, we asked a panel of experts for their single biggest piece of advice for new parents to two. Here’s what they said:

Sue Atkins, parenting coach and author of Parenting Made Easy—How to Raise Happy Children:

Atkins’ advice for second-time moms echoes her suggestions for first timers: Make sure to take a moment for mom.

“Find your ‘me time’ to rest, recuperate, recharge and relax,” she tells Motherly. “Sleep when your baby sleeps or rest when your older child is playing on their own or with your partner.”

According to Atkins, second-time parents need to be mindful of the trap of comparing siblings and instead celebrate and enjoy the second child’s personality.

Dr. Shimi Kang, child and adult psychiatrist and author of The Dolphin Way: A Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy and Motivated Kids-Without Turning into a Tiger:

Kang suggests parents engage in some reflection before welcoming their second child into the world. Then, use that time to think about how they might tackle infancy challenges with the benefit of hindsight. “Take inventory of what worked and didn’t work the first time and adjust accordingly,” she says.

According to Kang, adding a second child to the mix may mean assessing the other responsibilities in your life and making some cuts to give yourself breathing room. As she put it, “You’ve added another human to care for, what are you taking off your plate?”

Dr. Cathryn Tobin, pediatrician and founder of the New Baby Sleep School:

A mother of four herself, Tobin says parents who suffered too many sleepless nights with a first child who needed to be rocked, held or jiggled to sleep should learn from that experience.

“It’s not your fault! We learn on the job,” she says. “But don’t make the same mistake second time around. Work on sleep habits early on.”

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Gail Bell, co-founder of Parenting Power:

According to Bell, one thing that really helps second-time parents is to have a special box with snacks or toys for the older child that’s always within reach when the baby is being fed. That way the older child can have a drink from their special water bottle or look through a book while baby is eating, without having to wait for an adult to get something for them.

If they older child wants to play while baby is feeding, parents can direct them to the box and let the child know that they are busy at the moment—while avoiding making it seem like the new baby is to blame.

“Don’t even say the baby’s name, just say, my hands are busy right now,” she says. “As soon as my hands are free I will come play that game with you.”

Jesse McCarthy, Montessori educator:

After 15 years of working with kids, McCarthy believes second-time parents need to be prepared for mixed emotions. Yes, there will be love, but that isn’t all—especially at 2 a.m. when the baby is crying. We should also have the same expectations of older children.

“We don’t want children to hide such emotions from us—or worse, from themselves,” McCarthy says. “We need to create an environment in which they can share their feelings, all of them: the positive, the negative and the ambivalent.”

Let your older child know that it’s OK to not like some aspects of being a big sibling and make time to listen as they transition into their new role in the family.

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Nina Howe, professor of early childhood education at Concordia University:

Howe suggests parents talk to the older child about the baby and promote positive interactions between the two—while remembering to be patient with a child who suddenly has to make room in their relationship with their parents.

“Yes, there’s research that shows that sometimes the firstborn can be a little bit aggressive, but in almost all cases that passes within three to four months,” she says. “Don’t forget there is a disruption for the older child, too, when you have this new baby who is unpredictable.”

Susan Newman, Ph.D., social psychologist and author of The Book of No. 365 Ways to Say It and Mean It—and Stop People-Pleasing Forever:

According to Newman, even when parents work to get big brother or sister ready for change, there will be some family growing pains.

“No matter how well you think you have prepared your firstborn for the new arrival, be ready for some push back,” she says. “No one likes to be dethroned, especially young children who may seem welcoming at first, then show signs of dissatisfaction. Be ready to acknowledge your older child's feelings and change of heart with comforting support and time alone with you.”

Welcoming a second child to the family is bound to be a big transition for everyone—but you already know about that, veteran mama! ?

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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