Second Baby Checklist: What to Reuse and What to Buy

A mom poses with her two young children.
Catherine Hiles holds Liam, her second child, as her first, Rose, clings to her shoulder. Photo courtesy of Catherine Hiles

While becoming a parent is one of the best things that ever happened to me, it was something that I never knew I wanted. I wasn’t one of those kids who dreamed of being a mommy. In fact, I didn’t particularly like children.

But that changed when I was faced with a positive pregnancy test. My daughter Rose was born in April 2015, and while I found it hard to adjust to life as a parent, I knew that my life was more complete with her in it.

Then, in 2017, my husband Ben and I decided to try for a second baby. This time we knew what to expect. We’d saved all Rose’s baby things, so we knew we wouldn’t need to stock up on as many essential items. However, I found out that didn’t mean we wouldn’t need to spend any money on baby items.

Both before and after our son Liam was born in August 2018, we stocked up on some essentials we knew from experience we would need — and a few we hadn’t anticipated. Here’s our second baby checklist, and what some of my second-time (and third-time and fourth-time) mom friends, needed.

Yes, the Double Stroller Is Worth It

A girl sit in a double stroller attached to a bike.
Hiles’ daughter Rose sits in the family’s secondhand double stroller, a model that can be pushed while jogging or converted to trail behind a bicycle. Photo courtesy of Catherine Hiles

As a working mom, I didn’t get to use my BOB jogging stroller as often as I would have liked with Rose. But when I did use it, I loved taking her out for walks and runs, and she enjoyed being outside.

I went back and forth on buying a double jogging stroller when I was pregnant with Liam. I wasn’t sure how much I would use it now that Rose is too independent to ride in the stroller very often.

But some of my mom friends with kids closer in age said that they couldn’t live without their double strollers. My friend Naomi Sohaba got great use out of hers. “A decent double [stroller made] it easier to get out and about, because that’s easier than staying at home with two littles,” she told me.

Rather than splurging on a new double BOB, Ben and I bought a secondhand double stroller from some friends. It can also be used as a bike trailer, so we’ll get extra use out of it that we wouldn’t have gotten with the BOB. While Rose is reluctant to ride in a single stroller, she’s happy to hang out in the double to go for bike rides.

You May Need Different Bottles

Baby bottles.
Birzio/Getty Images

I kept the bottles from when Rose was a baby, but as any parent will tell you, there was no guarantee Liam would like the same types of bottles. Regardless, I stocked up on new nipples for the bottles I had so I would be prepared.

Second-time mom Sara Frank found out how picky babies can be when it comes to bottles. “Owen wouldn’t use the same bottles as Amelia, so we had to buy new ones,” she told me.  

Sadly, Liam wasn’t a fan of Rose’s bottles. We bought a different brand and he gave them the thumbs-up (though not literally).

Invest in a Better Diaper Bag

The main thing I looked for in a diaper bag for Rose was style. I wanted something Ben would be happy carrying around, so I went with a cross-body bag called a Diaper Dude. I soon discovered that the cross-body style was impractical and uncomfortable, so we opted for a backpack instead.

But when Liam was born and I dragged our old diaper bag out of the basement, I discovered that mice had been munching on some leftover snacks in the bag and left behind their calling cards (i.e., their poop). I threw the bag out and bought a new one, sticking to the backpack style.

As a mom of three, Kathryn Dowell splurged on a diaper bag the second time around. “I think mostly I upgraded to what I actually wanted [with my second baby],” she said. “[With] the first, I was guessing and going off other people’s experience. After that, I knew my parenting style and was willing to buy nicer versions of what I knew I needed, [like a better] diaper bag.”

Most of the moms I asked agreed. They either needed bigger diaper bags for two children close in age, or better versions of the ones they used the first time around.

Baby Carrier

A man with a baby carrier hikes up a hilly trail.
A dad carries his one-year-old son in a soft-structured Lillebaby carrier on a hike in Boulder, Colorado. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

A baby carrier is one of the biggest essentials for any parent, in my opinion. A good carrier allows you to hold a needy baby while leaving your hands free to grocery shop, make dinner or do chores. With a second baby, I’ve found that a carrier becomes even more essential, as it allows you to play with your other child while holding the baby.

With baby number one, most parents don’t know the wide range of baby carriers out there and will settle for what’s available at their local box store.

With Rose, I registered for a Moby Wrap and called it a day. But as I got more involved with babywearing, I realized how many options were available and upgraded to a soft-structured carrier. I used the carrier until Rose was about two and a half and refused to be carried anymore.

With Liam, I sold my pink LILLE baby carrier and opted for a black and white one instead. I also purchased a quality ring sling to keep in the car for grocery shopping and other quick trips.

Don’t Rely on Hand-Me-Downs

If you have two children of the same gender, you might be able to get away with reusing the same clothing — unless they were born in different seasons.

My friend Halie Best’s two girls are 20 months apart, so she had to buy winter and spring clothes for her second baby rather than reusing her first daughter’s summer clothes. She also purchased another set of swaddle blankets for her second daughter.

Although I had saved all Rose’s baby clothes, there weren’t many I could use for Liam. I bought some clothes for him and received others as gifts or hand-me-downs, for which I was extremely grateful.

“Fortunately, people gave us boy clothes,” said Frank, who has a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. If you have friends who have babies, ask if they have any clothes they would be willing to give (or even lend) you to save money.

Look Into Subscriptions and Memberships

Diapers and othert baby supplies sit on a table
Steve Debenport/Getty Images

Rather than having to go to the store every few days for baby items, Amanda Margraf signed up for an Amazon Prime Pantry subscription, which offers $6 off orders containing five qualifying items. Amazon currently offers existing Prime members a 30-day free trial of Prime Pantry, and it’s $4.99 per month after that to subscribe.

Margraf’s essential items included sanitizing wipes, Diaper Genie refills, baby wipes and diaper cream. Now that her babies are older, she still uses the subscription for household items like toilet paper.

You can also sign up for subscriptions for diapers and wipes through The Honest Company and other similar websites. In addition to saving you money, a subscription service means you don’t have to remember to buy these items from the store, as they are delivered directly to your door.

Ben and I bought a Costco membership when Rose was a baby, which paid for itself in formula purchases alone. We still have our membership, and luckily, Liam tolerates the Kirkland brand of formula, so we are able to save in the same way we did when Rose was little. If you use disposable diapers, those savings only increase, as you can buy in bulk to save money.

Whether you’re expecting your second, third, fourth or fifth baby, there are always items to add to the baby checklist, even if you kept everything from your other kids. But stick to the essentials and your new addition doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.

Catherine Hiles is a proud mother of two adorable kids. She freelances in her spare time, in addition to reading, running and cooking food containing hidden vegetables.