Before it’s assumed that this will be all about starting to skip set nap times and letting second siblings nom brownies for breakfast, understand that not all moms loosen up and let go once baby number 2 comes along.
Believe me: I know from experience.
Sure, in some ways, I became more relaxed. Mainly, it was because I saw that there were certain things that just couldn’t be controlled — or that the more I tried to control something, the less well it went (take mealtime, for example).
Also, each baby is different, so there’s just no way a mom will be able to treat one child exactly as she did the first. A unique personality and a changed family environment mean that, inevitably, parenting the second will sort of be a whole new ballgame — and yet also (thankfully!) easier in some ways because you’ve already done it all once before.
“With children comes experience, so it's no surprise that many parents do things slightly different the second time around,” says Lauren Levy at PopSugar.com. “And despite best intentions to keep everything equal between your firstborn and newest addition to the family, there are some changes that are bound to creep in…”
Let’s hear from moms who did a 180: their do-overs with the second kid.
21 No Photo Evidence
With less time and more work, some moms find they take way fewer pictures of their second baby.
With your first child, you document each and every thing, says Lauren Levy at PopSugar.com, from before the bump was even visible and then daily throughout the first two years.
With the second kid, “Any pictures that captured my second pregnancy were inadvertent until near the end, when we decided we had better take a few shots on purpose just to prove it happened.” And those pics of the little darlin’?
She says that while with the first, “you become a pro at daily photo shoots worthy of social media envy,” with the second, “You're grateful for the blurred cell phone snapshots you manage to capture.”
20 Plentiful Pics
If you read the above about moms taking way fewer pictures the second time around, well, that was NOT me.
I guess for me, it did not at all come to skipping pics or struggling to get them. Instead, it was all about savoring.
I knew how quickly those first few years went, and I wanted to make sure I had allllll the photos to look back on later, share with family and friends, and hand down to my kiddos later as special memories.
Plus, once I had a toddler AND a baby, it wasn’t just like there was double the cuteness but rather infinitely more. As I see their relationship and interaction with each other, giggle at their shenanigans, and yes, even dress them in matching outfits sometimes, I must document it all.
I’ve probably taken 100 times more pictures than with just first baby.
19 Better Learn To Cope With Colds
With the first child, there isn’t even a single sniffle for the whole first year, says a piece at ScaryMommy.com. With the second, it was quite different:
“Due to the infectiousness of her older sibling, now in preschool, the baby has had a runny nose since the week after her birth. She can see us coming with the snot sucker from across the room and it takes all three of us to hold her down to use it.”
Even before my first had entered preschool, it was a similar scenario for us, with our second babe catching more colds earlier in life, to be sure.
18 Not The Center Of The Schedule
I know that some moms end up getting real lax about nap times with second and subsequent babies, for example doing naptime on the go in the car or a carrier as opposed to always being at home for it as with the first.
Not I. I knew with my second how important nap time was to me as a work-from-home mother, and so from the early months onward I was all about having her sleep at home and, as early as possible, in her own bassinet or crib.
That said, I was MUCH more likely to make exceptions for occasional weekend excursions or get-togethers, knowing that as long as our good routine was established, we’d get back on track quickly even if we took a break for a day.
17 So Fresh And So Clean, Sort Of
We for sure started giving daily baths much earlier to our first. The second one now gets baths just as regularly, but mainly just because it’s easiest to just do the whole “everybody into the tub!” thing.
This may be a clear trend.
“The first child: The baby got a complete wardrobe change upon receiving the tiniest drop of spit up,” says one mama at ScaryMommy.com.
With the next one, a quick wipe-up of drool or spit-up had to suffice. Whatever mode of cleanup was easiest had to be good enough. Everything couldn’t be changed out as soon as a drop of this or that was on it.
“Exponential laundry increase is one of the great shocks of having a second child,” she said.
16 Delving Into Development
I feel like I can often tell whether a parent is watching after a first or second baby at the park, based on the level of excitement and encouragement for each and every thing the little tyke does.
As far as development, with the first child, said a mama writing for ScaryMommy.com, “We encouraged motor skill and ambulatory development. Praised all accomplishments.”
With the second baby, she joked that she strapped him to the floor knowing what mom challenges arise as soon as babies are on the move! “Once the baby starts running around, I will have to decide which child to sacrifice in order to chase after the other,” she concluded.
Lauren Levy (writing at PopSugar.com) said that with the first, she spent much time and money making sure the most educational toys were available, whereas with the second, “as long as it keeps them entertained, they can play with basically anything they want.”
15 Safety… Second???
Okay, so we did babyproof with both kiddos, to be sure, but the attitude I had, which grew stronger and stronger by the time our second came along, was that you can’t babyproof the world.
Teaching tykes what is okay / safe and what isn’t is pretty necessary, right? Really dangerous stuff was locked away or not around anymore or sectioned off, of course, but more and more, it was about guidance.
With the first child, says a parent writing at ScaryMommy.com, “Any baby proofing done was to protect from the dangers of the house.”
With the second: “How could anyone think a house is dangerous compared to a three year old? This baby climbs the stairs by herself on the way to her daily sibling self-defense class.”
14 So Long To Sitting Still & Savoring
Yeah, things can have a way of being a bit busier when there are two around.
Carisa Miller, writing for ScaryMommy.com, says that with the first child, “I wanted to hold her all the time, she was my first. Her sleeping on me was bliss and I had the leisure to doze at random with her at any point during the day.”
With the next one, she still wanted to hold her whenever she could, but she simply couldn’t be still very long because she always had to attend to the needs of the older child.
And there might just be no such thing as “down time” for mom anymore: With the second, “When the baby sleeps, mommy does damage control with the toddler,” says Lauren Levy at PopSugar.com.
13 From Family Fun To Divide & Conquer
Not to bore you with cuteness overload, but ever since forever, and continuing on into after we had our first baby, my hubs and I did everything together (when we weren’t at work). We all went out grocery shopping. We exercised together. It was fun, it was together time, and it worked great.
But as many other moms out there note, with two or more kids on the scene, you just can’t always all be doing one thing at once, and instead must tackle separate tasks just to make it all work.
“On the weekends the family ran errands together. It seemed we had all the time in the world and every trip was novel. There were two of us and one of her…nothing could impede our progress,” said a mom writing at ScaryMommy.com of her first.
With the next one, though, she said it was all about dividing and conquering just to get a single errand done, at least in those early days.
12 So Long To All The Attention
I have only just recently gotten to spend, like, any one-on-one time with my second baby, now well into the toddler years, and that’s just because baby #1 finally goes to a bit of preschool.
The shift in how your attention will need to be divided is something I’ve heard plenty of moms worry about and indeed struggle with, but I’d say where there’s a will, there’s a way, and with time, you can adjust.
“Your toddler will probably feel insecure or jealous and demand extra attention from you,” say editors at TheBump.com. “And, at the same time, you may also feel guilty because you’re not giving the new baby as much attention as you gave your first child.”
They say that at least #2 will get some attention from #1, perhaps making up for you not being able to devote all your attention to the new baby as you could with the first.
11 The Creation Of Confidence
You are more confident once you’ve already done it once before. This is my own experience, as someone who has had two babies in the last handful of years. I can see clearly in my mind that look of reverence and hunger for knowledge from the first-time moms I met after I’d had my second… It can just take some time and practice to feel comfortable and capable.
“Before your first baby was born, you probably felt nervous about becoming a mom” say editors at TheBump.com, “but this time around, you're already a mom. You can feel more confident in your parenting skills now that you’ve had some time to hone them.”
From establishing a good nap schedule to mealtime and beyond, it was indeed MUCH easier to feel like I knew what I was doing the second time — because I did!
10 Milestones Schmilestones
Oh, man, I remember eagerly googling each week and then reading and sometimes even re-reading those BabyCenter.com blurbs about what to expect each week during the first year of a new baby’s development…
I did not read those weekly — or even monthly — development blurbs AT ALL with my second. No time.
With the first child, “Every small milestone is cause for a major celebration,” says mom Lauren Levy, writing for PopSugar.com. With the second, “They all start to blur together and it's much harder to keep track.”
I would even journal regularly to document what was going on with my first baby. I started with writing down everything I experienced in the pregnancy, actually.
With the second, I do my best to jot down really big or entertaining stuff, but it’s very easy to neglect my self-assigned job of “historian.”
9 Done With The Doting
With the first, “You find the most inspirational craft projects to try from mom blogs and plan them out at least once a week,” says Lauren Levy at PopSugar.com.
With the second, handing them the smartphone and letting them “color” on that is good enough to be consider art time, she continues.
And it doesn’t stop there. Some moms say it’s just less practical to set up special activities and pay special attention once the second is on the scene.
“The tooth fairy is one magical lady!” Levy captioned a photo showing an elaborate note with fairy footprints in a dusting of glitter that led up to it.
Her example of what that lost-tooth scenario would look like for the second? A note in a child’s writing begging the fairy to please even bother to come at all.
8 The Periodic Pic
Ah, the monthly baby shot. In this Instagramming world we live in, it can almost feel like part of your mom duty. (I’d say don’t listen and do whatever you really want to do, not feeling obligated to follow any trend, but that’s just me…)
I actually didn’t do the monthly shot with my first I don’t think, but then felt compelled to do it with my second baby. May have been something to do with the way the baby book was laid out?
In any case, whereas I was more all about those periodic pics, for some moms, it’s the other way around:
“[You] suddenly realized that they're almost 8 months old and you have yet to take a month-by-month photo…” says Lauren Levy at PopSugar.com, elaborating later that with the first child, “Every monthly photo shoot is a staged production,” and with the second, she couldn’t believe anyone could ever find the time to even take a monthly photo.
7 Better Bedside Bassinet, And Beyond…
I had heard parents boast of the glory of the Pack ‘n Play, and it seemed great! Hopefully, I’d be able to use it as a travel crib later, and I thought it would be perfect for use in the early months with my first newborn as the place the baby would sleep right at my bedside.
With the infant insert in place, we gave it a shot those first few nights at home. Neither of us slept. Newborns move a lot in their sleep, and all the rustling of the insert kept us awake.
Our first baby therefore quickly started sleeping in her own crib in her separate room, right from the get-go (which shared a wall with our room and was steps away, so we could still hear most things, just not everything).
With number two, I made sure to invest in a bassinet specifically designed for newborns to sleep right at their mothers’ bedsides. We went with the Halo and loved it so much that we bought an entire new one when the interior piping got gross from spit-up seeping into impossible-to-clean crevices.
The focus was, from the start, GETTING SLEEP, and having gear that was supremely functional.
6 Freer With Food
I definitely followed the trend of getting more lax with foods with my second child. And why? I came to think it was much better that way.
It wasn’t laziness, or caring less, or anything like that. It was that I realized quite intensely by that point that you can’t make babies or kids eat anything, and that early food experiences are all about, well, the experience.
I tried to not worry toooo much about nutrition (as long as a variety of healthy foods were being consistently offered) or trying to convince my babe to eat more of this or that.
The minute she showed or said that she was done, she got wiped up and down from that chair.
And yep, I’m now less careful about sugar, too. We don’t have it regularly, but if it’s offered as part of parties or special occasions and my kiddos are interested, I don’t really hesitate to let them enjoy a bit along with everyone else. I think getting more relaxed is a clear trend.
The first kid got only organic baby food and Pinterest-inspo dishes, said Lauren Levy at PopSugar.com, while the second got cookies to keep him entertained.
5 About That Allergy Caution…
First of all, I would for sure follow your own doctor’s advice about offering early solid foods and being aware of potential allergies.
But for us, while I may have gone as far as to calendar when new foods were offered to our first, with our second, I was not quite so extremely careful to wait a certain amount of days before offering any new food.
It was part of my whole more casual attitude. And we don’t have a history of food allergies in the family.
And it’s not like I wasn’t aware and alert in case any reactions developed — it’s just that I wasn’t quite so focused on the potential for allergies, and more so on making mealtime the happiest of times.
4 Sooo Much More Social
Our second gets to experience so many more group and social activities.
I mean, it makes sense. The little one has a built-in playmate in the form of big bro or sis.
Plus, ours was so likely to tag along for anything and everything. We were even more likely to go out for socializing ourselves and just bring the babes along with us with the second on the scene, having gotten a bit more relaxed and confident as parents — and having realized that we had to get out of the house somehow!
From dining out every now and then to regular story times at the local library to much more park time, our second is around others much more.
3 Getting Priorities In Order
This one is a big and kind of intense one for me to write. It’s about my work, which is and has always been very important to me.
With my first baby, I was making life work by continuing on at my full-time job — while also being a full-time parent to my growing baby. It was intense. I mean, I would have done ANYTHING to be able to be with her during that time, and I kind of did. You do what you need to do.
The way life worked out, I now get to actually enjoy more of the time that I spend full-time with my second, by shifting away from my old job and toward work with more flexibility.
Is it 100 percent easy? No. But it’s an improvement, and I know I will always be happy with choosing to shift my professional situation in order to spend more quality time with my little ones.
2 What About Wardrobe?
This one is funny. My story is actually becoming more into dressing my second babe in cute little outfits than I was with my first. With the first, it was easy to just want to get something clean, comfortable, dry, and functional on her. With the second, I’ve definitely dabbled in matching ensembles for the siblings, silly hats, and more.
I’ve also gotten a bit more carefree with some things, like not ALWAYS dressing her in long sleeves in the sun and letting her feel the breeze in her whispy little hair for a few minutes instead of always wearing a hat outside (still with sunscreen and extreme caution about sun exposure, ’cause I’m still me).
Anyway, whereas I got more into outfits, some find it’s the opposite. “First kid: Every day is a new opportunity to dress them in an adorable outfit. Second kid: You consider it a success if they're clothed (even if their shoes happen to be on the wrong feet),” said Lauren Levy at PopSugar.com.
1 Treating Toddlers Like Teens
The second one just seems to grow up so fast, and in our case, it’s because she really did! People can’t even believe the full sentences coming out of our little toddler’s mouth for months now, for example. I am still blown away by how polite and bold and grown-up in general she seems.
Basically, I treat her like she’s older than she is because, like, she IS.
She imitates her older sister and always has, and so her walking, climbing, talking, emotional intelligence, and beyond are all pretty awesome.
Our first was equally amazing, but it was just easy with our second to start treating her as older and fully capable of many independent things already, if that makes sense.