Most parents would probably agree that having a child will deeply change your life. But how does having a second child change your life?

Second-time parents won't be much surprised about the smell of diapers, or the lack of sleep. But surely there are some things that will put your life upside down again. What should we expect and what should we not expect?

  • 1
    I took the liberty of editing your question a bit. It's a very good question and I'm looking forward to the answers but I thought it would get better answers if the question provides more context. Feel free to adjust it any way you like! Sep 4, 2011 at 18:32

4 Answers 4


What I've found is that, depending on the age difference in siblings, you now have different levels of needs between the children - one needs an infant's level of constant attention and the other needs something different. Switching between the two can be hard, especially when doing things like getting a younger one to sleep and the older one wants to do something else. The major bonus we have had, especially if the siblings get along well like my two boys, the development you were used to with the first is now different as the second has a role model to follow.

There is more work, it's definitely not proportional, since trying to find things that interest both children can be tough when going out, family outings become a bit tougher though it can be done if you manage it right. Pretty much everything will then depend on the maturity and developmental differences between the two kids, eating out, holidays, travel and so on but you also have the benefit of experience with the older one in knowing what to do when. Signs to look for when falling down, walking and toys - we have been better at choosing toys for our youngest after having gone through so many with our older. Of course, if you also have two kids with the same gender, and still have the olders clothes then you have to do less shopping as you might still have many of the things you need.


One thing that I've found to be a big adjustment for second-time parents: Suddenly you can't live by the firm rule "Sleep when the baby sleeps." With a toddler in addition to the baby, one is up all day and the other all night and somehow there's no time to sleep.


I think having the second child really means more involvement from the other partner. With the first, you also don't really relax, as you are afraid of everything, but with the second, you are not going to rush to the emergency room if they knock their head straight away, as you have been through it all before. I have found with all the people I know, that the second kid is tougher, physically and mentally, than the first, as you do tend to molly coddle the first more. I'll also say the second will be more independent than the first.

If you/partner is nursing, then the other one will need attention, be also aware that no matter what you do, the first will be jealous of the second's attention, and in time, the second with the first. They just do.

My wife and I talked about this the other day, whilst on holiday and we both agreed the step to have a baby was a real smack in the face, and real wake up call and you can never explain to someone just how hard it is having a baby for the first time. We both also think the step to have #2 was equally hard, but from a different perspective e.g. I no longer could work when she was nursing, so had to get some time to do this elsewhere. We'd also say it was more relaxing, as you are aware of what is going on, which you just aren't for a long time with just one child. However, and delightfully, we've found the step to #3 much easier. The kids adore #3, and the eldest is always helping fetch, reads to her, plays with her and generally is a benefit to have around her, and we feel this will only improve with time.

So, in short, the step to #2 is just as hard, but in different ways. It's also more relaxing.

  • Nice, voting down with no reason...
    – Hairy
    Sep 6, 2011 at 12:54

We found one child didn't change our lifestyle much (we could carry him everywhere in a papoose or car seat), but by the time we had a second child, our first was two years old so we then had to plan trips much more carefully.

Two years is a good gap though, as you can reuse old kit like buggies etc, rather than the two of everything problem twins would give you.

Three is a whole different ballgame - most holidays etc are designed for 2+2 - so we found having 1 child was a little bit more effort than none, 2 was a bit harder still, and 3 was really hard work for the first two years until the eldest was old enough to help out.

  • 5
    First child didn't affect you much? Lucky you! </envy> Sep 6, 2011 at 6:34
  • First child is portable - at least for the first couple of years - but admittedly, we never expected three to be such a challenge!
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 6, 2011 at 7:38
  • Strangely, we find 3 easier than 2 was. As for holidays, we bought a gite, as we thought it the best way to holiday as a larger family and could get a return. The idea of staying in hotel rooms for 2 weeks with all the family makes me shudder.
    – Hairy
    Sep 7, 2011 at 8:21
  • I wouldn't holiday in hotels with the family either - I spend too much time in hotels with the day job:-) What is a gite?
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 7, 2011 at 9:36
  • Gîte: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gîte - basically a vacation rental with the owner nearby.
    – r00fus
    Sep 12, 2011 at 22:59

You must log in to answer this question.