First-time moms have been known to go overboard with the eldest child. Take a look at 11 things moms do with the first baby we don’t do with the second.
I wanted to do everything right. Raising my eldest felt like a chance to start with a clean slate, to take all I’d been learning from observation or research and be the parent I wanted to be.
After all, I had more time compared to moms with two or more kids. As crazy as it may be to suggest any parent has a lot of time, it’s true. With only one child, I focused only on him, with no other children to worry about.
I not only spent more time playing with him, I also had more time feeling paranoid and worrying about all the things that could go wrong.
Things moms do with the first baby we don’t do with the second
Then my twins came. If I thought I was busy with one child, reality hit me hard when I had three. And while I love the twins with the same gusto and heart as I do my first, I also noticed a difference in the things I did between them.
Take a look at several things moms do with the first baby we don’t do with our later kids:
1. Sanitize our hands all the time (and make others do the same)
Moms of one baby take sanitizing to a whole new level. After all, we hear how transferable germs are, especially to the most vulnerable.
I stocked up on bottles of hand sanitizer and scattered them throughout our home. I also had them within easy reach for anyone who wanted to hold the baby. And of course I carried bottles in the diaper bag for any time we were out and about.
With baby number 2, hand sanitizing fell on the back burner. I still had a few lingering in the house, but we were much less strict about it.
2. Read baby books
If you look at my shelf, you might find about five baby books tucked in for reference.
What you won’t see are perhaps 15-20 more baby books I also borrowed from the library. These ranged from the best baby food to feed to baby sign language to the daily play activities to do with the baby. I even read a book about raising an eco-friendly and green baby.
If it had “baby” on the title, I read it.
I was a book addict. Books gave me the information I needed to feel better prepared for raising a child and giving him the best.
By the time the twins came, I was no longer reading so many baby books. I felt I knew enough from experience, and I also preferred calling our pediatrician than flipping through books.
3. Join mommy groups
My first introduction into mommy groups was through online forums. Through reading and commenting on virtual mommy groups, I was able learn, vent, share and belong to a group of others going through the same things.
Once my little one was born, I took it a step further and joined “in real life” mommy groups. I wanted my son to play with other children, especially since he wasn’t in day care. I even started my own mommy group of similarly-aged children so he’d have peers to practice social skills with.
With the twins, I didn’t join any mommy groups at all. I didn’t have as much time to devote to play dates, and I figured my kids now had one another to play with.
4. Bring an over-packed diaper everywhere
When I was pregnant with my eldest, I didn’t even know how you could go anywhere without a diaper bag. “What if you’re strolling around the block and the baby poops?!” I asked my coworker.
My diaper bag seemed like the entire changing station packed into one compact space. I put everything in that bag. Double sets of clothes, more diapers than he needed, toys to keep him occupied, and snacks galore.
Even though I had twins, I didn’t supersize my diaper bag—in fact, I used the same one. Difference is, I didn’t carry as many things with me. I knew how many diapers to bring, which toys were necessary, and timed our outings with the right amount of snacks to bring.
I also learned that I don’t need to come extra prepared for many outings. A trip to the park doesn’t require two spare outfits or their entire collection of teething toys.
5. Enroll in baby classes
Like play dates and mommy groups, moms with only one baby feel compelled to enroll their kids in baby classes. These activities would expose children to new interests and take advantage of their impressionable age.
From music class to gymboree, we enroll our kids in these activities for their benefit (and for ours—those hours alone with the baby don’t pass on their own!).
I remember signing up or at least trying free classes with my eldest, wondering if he’d take to these activities as I hoped. Turned out, he didn’t. In fact, he was just as happy playing at the free kids area at the mall as he was in these classes.
I didn’t even bother enrolling the twins or even trying the free classes. I figured they’d be just as happy at home or doing something less expensive.
6. Make them “smart”
Even when my son was in the womb, I made it a mission to “build his brain.” I ate my omega-3s for fatty brain tissue and read children’s books to my stomach every night (yep, I was that mom).
Even after he was born, I still made learning a priority. I continued to read books every night and I found engaging play activities.
While I still want my kids to value learning, I also realize it’s done through the simplest activities, such as reading every day and speaking to them often. And that I shouldn’t stress about the window of opportunity that’s forever lost should I neglect to expose their brains during these stages.
When the twins were born, I wasn’t able to read to them as much as I did my eldest at first. I had to make an effort and building reading time into their routine to make sure they also got enough time to read.
7. Record every detail
I began this blog to record everything I was learning about being a mom, including all the details in my son’s life. If it’s not a blog, it’s a baby book, or social media—first-time moms record everything about their kids.
We post pictures, write their measurements at doctor’s appointment, record the food they ate, and describe each outing. We even take monthly photos, first when we were pregnant with them, and later, a monthly record of their growth.
By the time baby number 2 comes, we store this information in our heads, if that. I don’t save every scrap or memento from my twins the way I did with my eldest. As if it’s not bad enough I haven’t finished my eldest’s baby book in seven years, I didn’t even bother getting baby books for his twin brothers.
8. Take pictures, especially professional photos
My family and I laugh at the albums of photos my eldest sister has. She has at least five albums full of photos only of her, and this was in the 60s before smart phones and digital photos.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have a few albums here and there, the number of them dwindling as more children were added. As the youngest of five, I have the least—one baby album with a handful of photos taped to the pages.
Parents to an only child have more time and opportunity to take photos of their little ones. No other children need their attention as they take the photos. They also have more time to put albums and even scrapbooks together.
Baby number 2 and onward tend to have less photos, whether professional or regular. It’s harder to take these photos with more than one child, much less feel obligated to take them.
9. Don’t let them cry at all
I couldn’t imagine letting my baby cry. It didn’t matter what kind of cry it was, from angry and frustrated to simple whimpers and complaints. I couldn’t even discern a real cry from those baby sounds they make in their sleep—the minute I heard anything, I dashed to his side and scooped him up.
With the twins, I knew better. Not that crying is good, or that I would ignore my baby. But I also figured out which types of cries warrant my immediate attention, and which ones can wait a little. This is especially true with twins—by default, one of them always has to wait.
If I heard a cry and I was in the middle of washing a few dishes, I’d finish those up before tending to the baby. A few seconds of finishing up that last plate isn’t the end of the world, but with my first baby, I sure made it seem that way.
10. Don’t let them eat sweets
I was adamant about the type of food my eldest ate. Even now, I’m still pretty particular about the food they all eat, but I was especially strict with my eldest.
For instance, I didn’t give him cake for his own one-year-old birthday party—he had a banana oatmeal cookie, a “healthy” alternative to the richness of the cake I served the guests.
With the twins, I became more lenient. I still don’t give too many, but I introduced sweets much sooner than I did with my eldest. (They definitely had real cake on their first birthday party.)
11. Have more patience
Despite the challenges of parenthood as a first-time mom, I also had more patience for my son than I did for any of them when the twins were born.
I could still remember the total of two times I yelled at my eldest in all his three years. But toward the end of my twin pregnancy and beyond, I had less patience to deal with tantrums during the mad scramble of raising more than one child.
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I chuckle at a few of these things, thinking back to my days as a mom to an only child. He was my world, my one and only, and the subject of all my time and attention.
As a first-time mom, we’re learning on the go. Everything is new territory, which isn’t always the case for moms with more than one child. So we fuss and make sweeping declarations and want only the best for them.
By the time baby number 2 comes along, we do much less of this. We’re not as paranoid, knowing our kids will turn out all right regardless of whether they ate cake or have professional photos. We’re more knowledgeable and have experience to guide us through our decisions.
And we have less time—as busy as it is to care for one child, adding more to the mix doesn’t afford us the time we used to have.
With more than one child, we’re still doing everything “right,” but now we have different—and more realistic—standards to base our decisions on.
Get more tips:
- How to Get Your Baby to Sleep without Being Held
- Weighing the Real Pros and Cons of Baby Led Weaning
- What Maternity Leave REALLY Looks Like
- How to Survive the First Few Weeks with a Newborn and Toddler
- What Every Mom Needs to Know About Her Second Pregnancy