When it comes to our first baby, none of us really know what we're doing (be honest). And the more confident we are in our plans, the more likely the universe will throw back its head and laugh until we have to admit, "Perhaps I was being naive/ambitious/delusional." But by the time baby number two rolls around, we're more grounded, we're more confident: we've got this and we know it. I asked moms to share what they did differently with their second child... because this should be hilarious.
I'm a mom of two — I have been for almost five years now — and I always tell people that if I'd had my very chill, laid-back, easy child first and then had my more challenging first child, I would have thought something was wrong with one of us. I wouldn't have known how to deal. And while I do think part of that is just that he was a tougher kid, I often wonder how much of that was my perception based on the fact that I had nothing to go on when it came to raising babies. I didn't know what was normal! More significantly, I hadn't developed the coping mechanisms to handle the strains of motherhood. In other words, was my firstborn really that much harder, or did I just get that much better at momming?
Whatever the case may be, while the core tenets of my parenting style stayed pretty much the same, there's a lot I did differently the second time around, based on the fact that I had very different babies, more experience, and, frankly, more chill. Here's what other moms had to say...
"We made our kindergartener read aloud to us for 20 minutes every night. It was so incredibly painful for everyone involved. With our second we just do flash cards at red lights. My poor third child will probably have to learn through osmosis."
"With my second, I was way less concerned about making food perfect once solid foods were introduced. I got the fancy baby food maker and went all out with my first. I never let her have sweets or salt. My second basically ate what we ate within reason, and is a much better eater now."
"With my first I was all about having every gadget, device, transportation. With the second I realized how much of that stuff was a waste of space and money and plastic garbage!"
"First one I was afraid to touch him get him dressed was afraid I was going to break him. My second one I was a pro — no worries in the world."
"I actually left the house with my second. With my first I was always nervous to leave or found it incredibly exhausting without the help of my husband or whoever was around to help."
"With my first I created a baby album. With my second I showed him pictures on the computer that might go into a baby album one day."
"First: [Had a] nursery, crib... 'EVERYONE BE QUIET! Sanitize everything!'
"Second: no nursery, no crib, hand me downs, noise noise noise, and germs = stronger immune system!"
"We did baby led weaning with the second... only because I was feeling too lazy to have to spoon feed while I tried to eat dinner myself."
"With our first daughter we were over the top and chilled the heck out with our second (and third). The best example is, those little bath time foam letters and numbers? With our first we carefully chose three per bath (given every night), being sure not to get more than one vowel or two of the same color, or two that looked too much alike. We would hold it up to her (legit, as early as six or seven weeks) and say, 'This is an A. This is a purple A. This A is purple (ya gotta mix up the sentence structure). A makes the ah ah sound. A is for apple. A is for antelope. A is for anteater. A is for ankle.,' etc. I kid you not. I legit got upset with my husband once when I found out he did an I and an L the same night. 'She's going to be so confused!' With our second, whenever she got bathed we sprinkled them around her and were like, 'Here are some letters — have fun.'"
"First baby... watched the app to learn about how it was growing, knew EXACTLY how far along I was (weeks/days).
"Second baby... no idea how big it was or at what stage different things developed and ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how far along I am. Is it 36 weeks? Maybe 37? All I know is I’m big and ready to get this baby out!"
"First kid: I had no freaking clue what I was doing. Freaked out at everything and nearly paralyzed myself with anxiety over messing him up.
"Second kid: My super mom powers kicked in the second I got my hands on her. No new baby anxiety. Just loved her with everything I had."
"I learned how to ask for help. With my oldest child I was a stay-at-home mom from the start and took pride in my ability to take care of my family and home on my own. From the cooking to the cleaning to the diaper changes, my whole world was a series of immediate gratifications that I enjoyed and just made sense to me. Fast forward 14 months and having two under 2 was a bit of a shock to my mop-after-every-meal world. The dishes were left in the sink all the time, there were never enough diapers or tubs of rash cream, and my dinners went from amazing to mostly edible. I learned how to ask for help very quickly.
"Whether at home, at a family member's home, or anywhere else, if your arms were empty you were fair game. ‘Here — can you hold the baby?’ was my favorite question."
"I ate all the sushi in all the zip codes. (I avoided it with my first pregnancy.)"
"I bought all the things... for my first.
"For my second (different gender). I was 34 weeks and said, 'Hey maybe we should go get some diapers and a couple onesies. Oh, and can you get the pink infant seat out of the garage and install it?'"
"I skipped the whole bassinet/crib thing for the first year. With my first I was so obsessed with a sleep schedule and getting her to sleep in her crib. With my second, that all went out the window."
"I had more realistic expectations. I didn't make a birth plan and figured the baby would come into this world one way or the other and I wouldn't be disappointed this time if it wasn't the way I 'planned.' I didn't even have my hospital bag the day she was born."
"So many things changed for me from my first child to second child. I guess the two biggest changes were getting rid of all the books and just going with the flow. With my first, I lived and died by the parenting books and the milestones. I was so uptight about everything related to my daughter. By the time my son was born, I just went with it. He crawled when he crawled, walked when he walked. Whatever. And when I did notice that he had a specific speech issue, I didn't freak out, got him therapy and went with it. And, no surprise to anyone, I really enjoyed myself more the second time around."
"I found out what the sex of the baby was going to be. I scheduled a c-section, which allowed me to plan out all the ways we could celebrate our last few days as a family of three and welcome our fourth. Finally, I slept when baby slept."
"As labor [went on] my midwives smiled and said 'Great! From this point with your first it was about one hour.' She sat down and I got pissed. One hour?! One more hour?! F*ck you! So I knew how it felt and where to push and in 10 minutes that baby was out! The midwife was in shock [that] I delivered him myself.
"Don't tell me what to do."
"With my first, I had no idea what I had the right to say 'no' to in the hospital, so when they told me they had to take my daughter to the NICU for a car seat test and I couldn’t go along, I allowed it to happen. I felt guilty about it for the next two years.
"With my second, they wanted to take her to the procedure room in the NICU for a heel stick and tried telling me I couldn’t come. I told them I wasn’t going to be separated from my baby, so they could either do the procedure in my room or let me come along. Magically it became possible for me to come."
"With my first, I was literally a ball of anxiety for the first few months and spent my maternity leave just being a mess.
"With my second... I chilled the hell out. Funny enough though, my first child still gives me the most anxiety out of all of them."