Taking Care Of Your First Baby Vs. Your Second

Bringing home a baby is an exciting and intense experience, especially if it's your first baby. First time parents are, understandably, a bit more on edge and cautious than more "experienced" parents. In fact, the obviously difference between taking care of your first newborn vs taking care of your second newborn is proof positive that if anything can aid you in parenthood, is experience. Lots, and lots, of experience.

I was a nervous wreck caring for my oldest son and, as a result, would definitely consider myself a helicopter parent (at the time, anyway). I read all the books, did all the research, joined all the Facebook mom groups. I made logs and charts, sensory bags, and facilitated explorations. We had cloud dough and play dough and sticky dough. If you could make it for babies, I made it. He painted with berries, he drew with charcoal, he had edible bath tub paint. I was off the rails and just a little-too-attentive and, well, I was a new mom.

Then my second baby came along and I just didn't have the same level of motivation. It was a wholly different experience with him. I'm not saying he's neglected, because he's definitely not. He's cared for and loved beyond measure, but he has a lot more autonomy than his brother did. He entertains himself, whereas his older brother was never given the opportunity to entertain himself.

I'm pretty confident this is not an isolated phenomenon. Ask any parent and they'll most likely agree (I hope), that caring for your first baby is significantly different than caring for your second. Hey, you live and learn, right?


First baby: I obsessed over my son's sleep. I logged and measured and timed every minute of sleep. I Googled appropriate amounts of sleep per age. If he wouldn't sleep at his appointed "nap time," I got upset and hovered, sometimes trying to soothe him to sleep for over an hour.

Second baby: he's never had a routine. He sleeps when he wants to and if he doesn't? Meh. No big deal.


First baby: it honestly never once occurred to me that "just a onesie" was not fully dressed. Why do babies need shorts in the summer, if they're wearing a onesie? Plus, I didn't live close to any friends who had babies of their own, so I had no one to tell me to dress me child before going out.

Second baby: wears pants. That's basically it.


Fist baby: my kid was the recipient of daily baths, even if he hadn't even touched the ground. I washed, dried, and slathered him in lotion every single day.

Second baby: No dirt? No bath. Visible dirt? Wipes. Actually taking the time to give my kid a bath? Yeah, those are just for fun, so he can play and I can sit down without him crawling all over me.


First baby: he didn't have his first cold until he was almost a year old, and when he did finally get the sniffles, I called the pediatrician no less than four times.

Second baby: he's been sick pretty much since he was 3 months old. His brother is a vector and he has a snotty nose from October to March.


First baby: we didn't take a vacation until he was almost 2, and even then it was just a weekend trip.

Second baby: we drove across the country and tent camped along the way when he had just turned 1.


First baby: couldn't move without someone knowing all about it. I hovered, and I made no apologies about it.

Second baby: frequently entertains himself in an entirely different part of the room for long stretches of time, without any interference from an adult.


First baby: had thousands of photos before his first birthday. Every day was documented. Extensively.

Second baby: has decidedly fewer photos. For example, there are week-long gaps in the camera roll. By today's standards, he barely exists. Sorry, kid.


First baby: didn't lay eyes on a screen for a long time. I put it off and put it off and put it off. When I finally acquiesced, it was timed and educational.

Second baby: has seen every Star Wars and Avengers and is heavily invested in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.


First baby: my friends were on the receiving end of a Facebook update when he had his first cookie. He was almost 2 years old and it was oatmeal raisin. Let me say that again. So, yeah, my kid didn't have a cookie until he was a 2-year-old toddler, because I didn't want my child eating a bunch of sweets.

Second baby: has been mainlining sugar for months now, and he's just barely 20 months old.


First baby: my son had extensive sensory provocations laid out for him every single day day. I was super conscientious about his play experiences and spent an inordinate amount of time and money to make sure he had developmentally appropriate toys.

Second baby: frequently plays with toilet paper and empty boxes. He also eats dog food on occasion and when I'm not looking.