Is There a Difference Between Firstborn and Second-born Parenting?
The way we parent our first kid is often quite different from how we parent subsequent children. Read this mum's story and see if her story sounds familiar to yours, especially if you have more than one kid!
When I was pregnant with my first child, I did everything by the Book. By “the Book,” I mean the “bible” of pregnancy: What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Every month, I checked the Book to see what my baby was up to inside my tummy.
I followed a strict diet of no alcohol and caffeine, plus loads of vegetables, fish and fruit. I had not one, but two baby showers! I even rented a fetal Doppler machine to monitor my baby’s heartbeat at home.
When my son was around one and a half years old, I became pregnant again. At the time, however, we were in the middle of a big move from Australia to Singapore.
So while I felt the same surging, amazing emotions that I experienced during the first pregnancy, a little of the new baby’s thunder was stolen because of the move.
In Singapore, I was on my feet around the clock looking after my first son who was still very young.
My second pregnancy flew by without the Book, organic vegetables (I still ate healthily, though) or baby showers. I had my baby…and suddenly I was mum to not one, but two little boys. It was, and still is, full-on parenting!
It’s amazing how much changes from parenting the first child to the second. Perhaps it’s due to the sheer lack of time or a supreme gain in confidence. But for me, there really was and still is a difference in my firstborn and second born parenting methods.
1st child: I was determined this kid would sleep through the night in his cot. Little did I know that he was equally determined not to.
For three long months, I would lay him down in his cot, he would wake up, I would breastfeed, swaddle and put him back in his cot…and he would be wide awake and crying in less than a minute.
One night out of desperation, I breastfed him on the bed and we both fell asleep together. Co-sleeping has been my sleep-saviour since then!
2nd child: No cot or crib for this one! We’ve been co-sleeping from day 1 and he’s a great little sleeper.
1st child: Breastfeeding involved my comfy glider, a glass of water placed close to me and my favourite TV programme. If we had to go out, I would discreetly cover my child while he fed or find one of those dingy feeding rooms, more often than not located near a toilet.
2nd child: I turned into a pro at breastfeeding on-the-go. My little boy would be hungrily feeding while I walked around the house, getting child no. 1’s meal ready or doing some other chore.
When it came to feeding in public, I really didn’t bother about what people thought. He hated being covered and I hated frantically looking for a feeding room with a screaming, hungry baby clinging on to me.
So we would find the nearest bench or cafe and feed away!
Visits to the doctor
1st child: I once panicked when he had colic and rushed him to the emergency room! It was the same with every little sniffle and cough. I would rush him immediately to the doctor on day one.
2nd child: I don’t panic at the first sniffle, although my heart still sinks when I hear it because I know it’s going to be a few days of handling not one, but two sick kids.
If fever persists for more than two days, then I take him to the doctor — otherwise, it’s home remedies such as damp cloths, or I give the appropriate dose of baby Panadol to bring down the fever.
Vicks on the soles of the feet for coughs works a treat, too. If I do take him to the doctor and antibiotics are prescribed, I give the entire course (unlike when I only had child no.1 and was totally against antibiotics).
1st child: There’s no denying it. I am a clean freak. With my first child, I would sanitise every toy of his that dropped on the floor. I would worry for days if he happened to eat something off the floor.
2nd child: I know my floor is clean enough to eat off, so what harm is there in my son using the floor as his plate occasionally?
Also, on some days, I’m happy if he eats anything — even if it meant that his food was on the floor! I still sanitise his toys, but not as frequently as I did with child no.1’s toys. After all, a few germs never harmed anyone, right?
1st child: What he watched was strictly controlled. Only educational programmes of the highest quality would do.
2nd child: Whatever child no. 1 is watching will do. Ben 10 is not all that bad, right?
Plus, this 30 minutes of screen time gives Mummy precious me-time away from the 4-year-old’s incessant questions or the 2-year-old’s occasional clinginess!
1st child: I fell in love the moment I saw his dear little face. I never knew I could feel that way. It was pure love combined with unbelievable amounts of happiness and pride — an exhilarating cocktail of emotions. He was mine and I was in love!
2nd child: The moment I saw his dear little face, that exhilarating cocktail of emotions returned in full force. He was mine and I was in love…all over again!
Even though there are things related to parenting that I do differently for my second boy, there are some things that will always remain constant, like teaching my boys to be kind to people and animals alike.
My parenting style will not change when it comes to showing them that electronic gadgets can never replace the joy of immersing themselves in a good book.
They will both learn to do chores around the house, including, when they are old enough, how to cook and clean up after themselves. They will both be taught how to grow up as responsible, considerate, educated adults.
They will both be loved equally, always.
Is there a difference between your firstborn and second born parenting styles? Share your story with us by leaving a comment.