The Painfully Honest Truth About How You Parent Your First And Second Child Differently

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Becoming a parent for the first time is one of the biggest moments in a person’s life. And while the arrival of another child is just as important, there are a number of factors that make things a little different. With that in mind, then, we’ve taken a look at 20 differences between the parenting of a first-born and a second-born.

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20. The attention from friends

Some of the most exciting times of a pregnancy come in the initial stages, as the parents-to-be inform their loved ones of the news. For the expectant mom, the attention can sometimes be very overwhelming, with friends plotting celebratory events to commemorate the occasion. After all, it’s not everyday that you have your first child.

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But the situation might differ slightly when those same parents announce that they’re expecting their second baby. While their friends are no doubt delighted with the news, they might not exhibit the same level of enthusiasm as before. And as a result of that, the attention can be much less intense.

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19. The nursery

In the lead up to a baby’s arrival, the parents often focus on the things that should be ready. For some, the nursery takes priority as they’ll be spending a lot of time in that room with their child. First-time moms and dads can be especially sure of that, desperate for everything to be perfect.

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But by the time of a second child’s arrival, parents may have relaxed in their efforts to decorate elaborately. And that’s because newborns tend not to pay attention to interior design. As Lauren Hartmann put it on parenting website Babble, “I learned pretty quickly that babies don’t really care about fancy nurseries.”

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18. Keeping things clean

As most parents would attest, babies can get incredibly messy. Whether it be food or spit-up, a young child’s clothes often bear the brunt of it – much to mom and dad’s chagrin. With a firstborn, dirty items are usually thrown into the laundry, resulting in a change of outfit.

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When it comes to second-borns, though, parents might take a different approach. “[I] wipe slobber and spit-up off with other parts of the clothes [the baby] is wearing, the clothes I am wearing [and] rub it off with my thumb,” wrote Carisa Miller on the website Scary Mommy. “In short, use whatever method of cleanup is most handy and carry on.”

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17. Hygiene

First-time parents are eagle-eyed around their baby, looking to keep them as safe as possible. Maintaining the child’s hygiene is often one of the biggest priorities, with moms and dads cleaning any item that they might come into contact with. In their mind, any kind of germ could have a negative effect.

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But upon the arrival of a second-born, parents can be much more flexible when it comes to keeping stuff clean. Indeed, their previous experience often teaches them that the baby won’t get sick if they touch anything that hasn’t been sanitized. As a result of that, the child might have a bit more free reign compared to their older sibling.

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16. Hailing achievements

One of the many joys of parenthood is being able to watch a child develop as they grow older. During their formative years, young kids can sometimes be lauded for certain achievements – no matter how big or small they might be. And that’s likely amplified with first-time moms and dads.

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As for second-borns, on the other hand, that’s not always the case. After the baby’s parents have noted every little thing that their older sibling has accomplished, they might not receive the same level of attention. While important achievements are no doubt celebrated, smaller milestones can get ignored by their moms and dads.

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15. Adapting your schedule

Looking after a baby can be incredibly time-consuming, with most requiring the undivided attention of their guardians. On that note, mothers and fathers across the world often have to plan their schedules around the youngster. First-time parents can definitely attest to that, tending to their child’s every whim each day.

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However, Carisa Miller noted a change after her second baby was born. “I cannot conceive how I ever felt busy caring for only one child,” she wrote on Scary Mommy. “And though I continue to respect naps, it would be impossible for me to make the world stop spinning in order to always accommodate the baby at the exact moment she is ready.”

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14. Working through second pregnancy

When an expectant mother discovers that she’s pregnant for the first time, those around her might try to make life as easy as possible. Indeed, as the baby bump grows bigger, the mom can put her feet up at home, relaxing ahead of the big day. Because for them, the hard work starts from there.

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But more often than not, that luxury can’t be afforded during a mom’s second pregnancy. Instead of putting her feet up to relax, she and her partner have to look after their oldest child in the build-up to the new arrival. Unsurprisingly, those nine months are usually a lot more hectic.

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13. Celebrating milestones

As parents quickly find out, young children reach a number of different milestones in the years after their birth. For first-time moms and dads, it’s easy to get excited by those achievements – whether it’s a first step or a first word. With that in mind, the baby is subsequently showered with attention.

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During that period, the life of a parent becomes incredibly busy – especially if they have another child some time after. As a result, those previous conditions can be very hard to replicate with a second baby in the house. The milestones that would’ve been noticed before can now slip through the cracks, albeit unknowingly.

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12. Recalling milestones

When a baby reaches a significant milestone in their life, parents often can’t help but share that information with their family and friends. Due to how big those moments are for firstborns, dads and moms are likely to remember the smallest details about them. From times to places, it’s all important.

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However, when it comes to second-borns, some parents can’t recall the information as easily. Indeed, this can be illustrated by a blogger named Lotus who summed up the point perfectly. In her post on website Mommy to Max, Lotus remembered that her oldest “started walking at ten months, 24 days.” As for her second child, “she started walking around the time she turned one.”

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11. No alone time

To the surprise of no one, parents tend to devote plenty of time and attention to their children – especially during their younger years. That’s certainly the case with first-time moms and dads, as they savor every second alone with their baby. Unfortunately for the second child, though, things are very different.

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Unlike their sibling, second-borns aren’t afforded the time to bond with their parents on their own. “My second son has rarely experienced alone time with dad and me,” wrote Sarah Cottrell for the Huffington Post. “Every chance we get to spend with him alone has been interrupted by the antics of his older brother.”

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10. Food

Adaptation is key for first-time parents, as they have to structure nearly every facet of their lives around their baby. Eating habits definitely come under that, with moms and dads looking to feed their child the healthiest food available. But those strict guidelines waver somewhat upon the arrival of another infant.

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As the blogger Lotus can attest, parents can become a lot more flexible about food for their second baby. Indeed, she demonstrated as much with a post on the website Mommy to Max. “She’ll live if she eats some candy or junk food before she turns one,” the mother wrote.

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9. No need for parenting guides

Whether it be for a test or a job interview, people like to feel prepared for big moments in life. First-time mothers and fathers are no different, with plenty of parenting guides available to help them through the initial stages. However, according to Lauren Hartmann, the preparation for a second-born isn’t necessarily the same.

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“I have read a couple of blogs, but that’s about it,” Hartmann wrote on Babble. “Part of this is because I just don’t have that much time to read in general, but the other part is because I just don’t feel the need to have as much knowledge. Plus, I already remember the basics.”

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8. TV time

As children grow up, they can take part in a number of different activities to keep their minds active. Indeed, from toys to coloring books, youngsters won’t struggle to entertain themselves. But when it comes to television, some first-time parents are cautious about how much time their child can watch it.

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Yet after the birth of a second baby, those guidelines often give way. For Lotus, her youngest child was certainly afforded more time in front of the small screen compared to her oldest. On Mommy to Max, she claimed that her first-born wasn’t allowed any media time until they turned two. Her next child, however, was permitted two hours each day.

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7. School

One of the most important milestones that a child can experience in their youth is the first day of school. And while this can delight their guardians, it can also be a little trying for them. And for first-time parents especially, the special occasion can prove to be very emotional.

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However, when a second child gets ready to start their education, those previous feelings can change somewhat. Indeed, after dealing with two youngsters around the house all day, parents can feel a sense of relief when they head off to school. For a few hours at least, parents can experience a little time away from their kids.

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6. Putting knowledge to good use

As most people would attest, you can only gain experience in a particular field by working at it. Parenting is no different, as fathers and mothers learn on the job when they have their first baby. For Sarah Cottrell, that knowledge subsequently played a significant role when she and her partner had another kid.

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“My second son has benefited from his older brother having broken us in as parents,” Cottrell wrote for the Huffington Post. “On the one hand we are confident that his toddlerhood will go smoother now that we are seasoned parents. On the other hand, this kid might bring us some hell we hadn’t thought of or experienced yet.”

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5. Overprotective no more

Due to how fragile babies are, parents are often overprotective of them. As a result of that, potentially harmful items in the house are often made “baby-proof” to keep them safe. First-time moms and dads can definitely relate to that. But with a bit more experience under their belts, the caution might dissipate.

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Indeed, following the birth of a second child, parents may ease off protecting them from the more harmless items around their home. Once again, trial and error comes into play in this particular instance. After all, guardians are more likely now to know what their youngsters can and can’t do safely.

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4. Toy shopping

Following the birth of a baby, parents must stock up on a variety of items to keep them occupied. And this, of course, includes amassing some toys. As the youngster gets older, they subsequently get more toys to play with – especially if they’re an only child. However, some second-borns aren’t quite so lucky.

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“My first son has a room filled to the gills with every ridiculous toy you can imagine,” Sarah Cottrell wrote. “My second son has what passes for a nursery that is filled with boxes of leftovers from his older brother. Downstairs in the living room he has a basket with a handful of new toys from his big birthday bashpalooza, but his older brother keeps stealing them.”

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3. Dealing with illness

One of the biggest concerns a first-time parent can face is their child falling ill. While the youngster might just be suffering from a slight fever, those moms and dads could be left very worried and decide to contact the doctor. As for second-borns, though, potential health issues can be dealt with a little differently.

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Indeed, parents might be able to judge the situation a lot better off the back of their previous experiences. So with that in mind, if their youngster falls victim to a fever or cold, they’re less likely to make a snap decision out of panic. Again, it’s a case of trial and error.

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2. Clothes shopping

Much like with toys, first-time parents are often compelled to stock up on plenty of clothes for their baby. And for some moms and dads, only new items will do for their firstborns. But that attitude can definitely change when it comes to their second-borns, who are subsequently given hand-me-downs.

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Lotus was one of those parents, recalling an anecdote on her blog Mommy to Max. “Sure, I’ll take that winter jacket that’s already passed through two other families,” she wrote regarding her youngest child. “It has a hole in the lining? That’s okay, no one will see when it’s zipped up!”

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1. The photographs

In recent years, social media platforms have encouraged people to share photographs from their everyday lives. For first-time parents, this is just another place for them to post pictures of their child, in addition to the photo albums and baby books. At times, the sheer number of images can be overwhelming.

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However, when those parents have another child, the pics can somewhat dry up. One online user on the Bored Panda website could back that up, sharing their own story. “My firstborn has an actual baby book, with locks of his first cut hair, growth stats, etc,” they wrote. “My second… well, he’s fine.”

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