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What I'm Doing Differently with My Second Child
My second daughter is eight months old this week, and I’ve suddenly realized that – without quite consciously thinking about it – I’ve done a number of things differently with her than I did with my first child.
For one thing, I’m not a first-time mom this time. I also have a toddler thrown into the mix, which means I have less undivided time and arms to parent with. And, of course, my baby is her own little person, with her very own personality and preferences.
Here are some things I’ve done differently this time around (and what a few other second-time moms have done differently as well):
This is the biggest one in my mind. I pumped every night for a YEAR with my first daughter, for no real reason. I just got in the habit and didn’t quit until we went on vacation and I couldn’t fit my pump. I did NOT do that this time – I think I’ve pumped only a dozen times.
With my older daughter, I can count on one hand the times I used the baby carrier. Who needed their hands free? (Second-time mamas, that’s who!) For the first four months of Ani’s life, I didn’t brave the grocery store without it.
Earlier Big Kid Experiences
Ella didn’t swing on a swing until she was about seven months old – it didn’t even occur to me. Ani was trying them out at the park by 3 months old!
Less Worry About Milestones
I’m not so worried about milestones. We haven’t pushed him to crawl or roll or eat solid foods quite so early, and it’s made me much more relaxed and able to just enjoy his babyhood!
I spent a lot more time cuddling my second. I was so worried that my first baby would get used to being held and require me to hold him ALL THE TIME that I made sure I put him down to sleep. With my second, I cared a lot less. And he’s still a great sleeper.
More Independent Play
I used to feel so guilty when I let my older daughter play by herself while I did my own thing. Now, I realize how good it is for kids to develop the ability to entertain themselves, and I try to give both of my girls opportunities to do so.
Less Obsession Over How the Baby is Growing
I promised myself that I wouldn’t get as obsessively concerned with how this next baby is eating and I haven’t. It probably helps that he is already wearing the same diaper size as his two-year-old sister, so there clearly isn’t any need to worry!
I read to her more. You’d think less, but she gets all of older brother’s lengthier books, too.
Leave the House More Often, and Sooner
With my first, this felt like climbing Mt. Everest. We were supposed to take her to dinner at a week-and-a-half old and I was frozen with fright in my bedroom for a good while before we finally bit the bullet. Although it still takes a great amount of effort to get out with two instead of just one, we’ve been starting at a much younger age. I remember going to Target with a two-week old, and it feeling freeing rather than stressful. Babies seem so portable and easy to take with us everywhere.
Less Worry about Perfect Parenting
The week I had my second child, my little boy turned two. The biggest change I made in terms of my mothering was not worrying quite so much about making sure every mess was picked up or that I kept screen time down to under 30 minutes for my little guy. In those early days with a potty training toddler AND a newborn, sometimes the fact that my toddler could turn on a show for himself or that I didn’t have to worry about cleaning up his blocks for the zillionth time that day was my saving grace.
Dressing for Comfort
With my first, I remember loving the little outfits that made him look like a man. This time I’m going for comfort above all else, so the pieces I most often put him in are bodysuits and leggings.
More Flexible About Nap Schedules
I’m not QUITE as much of a stickler for naptimes. With a toddler who often has morning activities, we have to be a little more flexible with Kina’s morning nap.
I introduced the pacifier a lot sooner this time. With my first I was worried about nipple confusion so I waited a long time, Rosy has had a pacifier from day one.
Seriously. The Pacifier.
MULTIPLE moms mentioned this one: “I was worried about a pacifier interfering with my baby learning to latch on so I didn’t give one to my first til she was almost a month old. Along comes baby #2 and we had learned the beauty of pacifiers- she was happily sucking on one within 12 hours of birth (and happily no nursing trouble at all!)”
Pack Less in My Diaper Bag
Babies seem to need much fewer things this go around. Give me a swaddling blanket, a diaper and wipes, and the baby is covered (although I still like to carry a burp cloth or two). If he spits up–I’ll use the blanket; if he needs something to be changed on, I’ll use the blanket; if he needs to nurse under a cover, I’ll use the blanket. (No need for alarm; these tend to not all happen in one outing . . . usually.) Yes, my diaper bag is still heavy. But it’s more the things I’m carrying for my toddler than all I somehow managed to “need” for my infant the first time.
Less Sleep Training
We were fairly serious about sleep training our older daughter. With Ani, it just didn’t seem as big of an issue or worth the battle, so I nursed her in the night until she started sleeping through on her own.
Less Rocking to Sleep
One of the reasons I might have been more lax about sleep training is because from the beginning we would put her in bed awake, so she got used to falling asleep on her own. Not spending half an hour rocking her to sleep made me more willing to get up in the night and feed her quickly.
More Likely to Ditch the Nursing Cover
I use the nursing cover less. Because she generally hates it and I’ve gotten better at being discreet without it.
Rely More on Prior Experience and Gut Instinct
I think I read 20 parenting books Clara’s first year alone; I was obsessed with being on top of this parenting thing and planning far in advance. Now, I am on auto-pilot for a lot of things as I know what worked for me in the past and what things I feel strongly about. I don’t need to consult the experts and the “experts” (*cough, cough* parents in the comment sections) as much anymore.
Love Them Every Bit as Much
No matter what things you do differently or the same, you’re pretty much sure to love that second baby just as much as the first baby. I didn’t believe it was possible, but it is.
What things have you done differently with a second child?