First-time moms can go overboard with the eldest child. Here are 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, a few years later, 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. 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. The difference was, 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 number 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.
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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 a book 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.
But 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. Sanitize our hands all the time (and make others do the same)
Moms of one baby take sanitizing to a whole new level—and this was before the pandemic. After all, we know 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.
But with the twins, hand sanitizing fell on the back burner. I still had a few lingering in the house, but we were much less strict about it.
Discover what every mom should know about her second time pregnancy.
4. Join mommy groups
My first introduction into mommy groups was through online forums. Through virtual mommy groups, I was able learn, vent, share, and belong to a group of others going through the same experiences.
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.
5. Enroll in baby classes
Like play dates and mommy groups, moms with only one baby can feel compelled to enroll our little ones in baby classes. These activities would expose them to new interests and take advantage of their impressionable age.
From music to gym classes, we enroll them 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 happier playing at the kids’ area at the mall than 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).
After he was born, I continued to make learning a priority.
I still want my kids to value learning, but 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 lost windows of opportunity should I neglect to expose their brains during these stages.
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 appointments, 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 two 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, 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 fewest—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 two and onward tend to have fewer photos, whether professional or regular. It’s harder to take these photos with more than one child, much less feel obligated to take them.
Read why I don’t feel guilty for not taking many photos of my kids.
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 babies. But I also figured out which types of cries warrant immediate attention, and which ones mean I 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 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.
Check out 4 ways to help your child handle a baby crying all day.
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. (For instance, they actually had real cake on their first birthday party.)
11. Have more patience
Despite the challenges being a first-time mom, we also have more patience for our first baby than we do for any of our kids once there are more than one of them.
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.
Learn how to cope with the “second child guilt.”
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 two comes along, we do much less of this. We’re not as paranoid, knowing our kids will turn out all right 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
- Baby Led Weaning Pros and Cons
- 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
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