15 Differences In The First Child Vs. The Second


Children playing in inflatable pool

1. Celebrating 
The first child: When we were expecting our first child, people celebrated me as though no woman had ever had a baby before. I was showered with gifts and attention by family, friends, family friends and friends of family friends’ dogs. Upon arrival of the baby, visitors crowded the waiting room and lined up around the block. You have never seen so many homemade lasagnas in your life.
The next one: Umm…where did everybody go?

2. Documentation
Your first childPhoto documentation began before my pregnant belly was even visible and continued weekly (more like daily) throughout the first two years of our daughter’s life on the outside.
The next oneAny pictures that captured my second pregnancy were inadvertent until near the end, when we decided we had better take a few shots on purpose just to prove it happened.

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3. Illness
The first child: The baby was sniffle free her whole first year of life.
The next oneDue to the infectiousness of her older sibling, now in preschool, the baby has had a runny nose since the week after her birth. She can see us coming with the snot sucker from across the room and it takes all three of us to hold her down to use it.

4. Time Management
The first child: There was no time to do anything but care for the baby. Outings were carefully timed so as not to anger the gods of Nap. I could not commit to any plans without a caveat regarding the likelihood of my cancelling them, because one day’s schedule could not predict the next.
The next oneI cannot conceive how I ever felt busy caring for only one child 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. (By ‘the world’ I mean my preschooler, by ‘spinning’ I mean spinning.)

5. Nursing
The first child: I had great big hopes that my breasts would rebound post nursing.
The next oneAll hope is lost. But I’m still pulling for pelvic realignment.

6. Attentiveness
The first child: We rushed to respond to night time crying for the baby’s sake.
The next oneWe rush to respond to night time crying so that she won’t wake up her sister.

7. Cleanliness
The first childThe baby got a complete wardrobe change upon receiving the tiniest drop of spit up.
The next oneWipe slobber and spit up off with other parts of the clothes she is wearing, the clothes I am wearing, rub it off (or rather in) with my thumb, dangle her so she launches it onto the ground. In short, use whatever method of cleanup is most handy and carry on. Spit up and slobber are nothing compared to what her sister uses to dirty clothes. Exponential laundry increase is one of the great shocks of having a second child.

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8. Development
The first childWe encouraged motor skill and ambulatory development. Praised all accomplishments.
The next oneHave strapped to the floor with duct tape knowing what difficulties baby mobility brings. I try every day but still cannot physically move in two opposing directions at once. Once the baby starts running around, I will have to decide which child to sacrifice in order to chase after the other.

9. Safety
The first childAny baby proofing done was to protect from the dangers of the house.
The next oneHow could anyone think a house is dangerous compared to a three year old? This baby climbs the stairs by herself on the way to her daily sibling self defense class.

10. Closeness
The first childI wanted to hold her all the time, she was my first. Her sleeping on me was bliss and I had the leisure to doze at random with her at any point during the day.
The next oneI want to hold her all the time, she is my last. Her sleeping on me is rare because her sister does not recognize my right to be still.

11. Productivity
The first childOn the weekends the family ran errands together. It seemed we had all the time in the world and every trip was novel. There were two of us and one of her…nothing could impede our progress.
The next oneDivide and conquer. This took a few trips to figure out. Inevitably, one of us would have to make an emergent potty run into a store with the toddler, while the other sat in the parked car nursing the newborn. This left no one to accomplish the errand. (To ease your suspense, it was me in the car.) As I write this I realize that during the week, I run the errands by myself with both girls. Hey wait a minute, that’s not fair…

12. Organization
The first childThe house became increasingly scattered with baby gear and toys. I was excited when she grew out of all those clunky baby gadgets such as the activity mat, exersaucer and high chair, until I realized bigger kids have bigger stuff.
The next oneMinimal adult possessions remain. However many attractive receptacles I can find, they are not enough.

13. Benefits
The first childHad the benefit of all my attention. Good thing because I had no idea what I was doing.
The next oneHas the benefit of my experience. Good thing because I am busy explaining to her sister why she doesn’t get all of the attention anymore.

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14. Life Impact
The first childThe shock of parenthood was tremendous and the realization that I couldn’t turn back was scary like I swallowed a boulder and jumped off a bridge.
The next oneTimes two.

15. Lovability
The first childBrought the most powerful of all love into my life for the first time.
The next oneBrought the most powerful of all love into my life for the first time, again. (My apologies if the sentiment makes you throw up in your mouth, that is just the way it is.)

Related post: 7 Differences Between Your First and Second Pregnancies


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  1. Anne Kimball says

    Well hey, at least if we throw up in our mouths, it’s not on our clothes, right?

    Great post! And every word is truth….
    (Take it from me, I’ve got six)

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      • SiouxqieTK says

        Six? I commend you all… you must be brave, crazy or incredibly organized. ★just kidding, no one get mad★ seriously tnough, how do you wrangle six? Half the time I feel like I can barely wrangle my two boys…. (in my defdnse, we do have a fully operational micro-farm, and 7 dogs, two of which are working and one in training.)

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        • Laura says

          You’d be surprised, my five on the weekends are actually easier than my two during the week. You’ve got mob mentality on your side. With two, if one doesn’t want to listen the other is likely to follow because she doesnt want to be the only one behaving. With six, if one doesn’t want to listen, they usually decide pretty fast they don’t want to be the only one NOT listening and it works out in your favor.
          You also find yourself doing a lot of things in lines. Lines for meals, lines for chores. In my house the most commonly uttered phrase is “minions/nerdlings/tiny loud people overrunning my house! QUEUE UP!” Followed by the thunder that can only be produced by five pairs of feet scrambling to do as told. Is it a treat? Is it a chore? No telling until they arrive arrive and by then it’s too late to escape.

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  2. Tia says

    I (Thank you Jesus!) stumbled upon a book called “How to Have Your Second Child First” at the library at about 6 months pregnant with my first kid. I read all 101 pieces of advice in one sitting, and although I haven’t been able to remember every single bit (Thank you Mommy Brain…), I am eternally grateful to its authors.
    Your post today and that book should be at the top of every single “Must-Have” registry list.

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    • says

      Hello ladies! I’m the author of “How to Have Your Second Child First” and was so happy to see the rave review from Tia! It pleases my co-author hubby and me to no end when this book proves helpful (and sanity-saving) to other parents. Please reach out if you want to keep in touch; you can message me on FB via my name or the book title. (Coincidence, just the other day I shared the Scary Mommy post on Back to School in the 70s vs today. Funny stuff!) Also, I do sell signed copies of the book directly through Amazon if you have any baby gifts to give! Help those first-time mommies step away from the wipe warmers and video monitors, and slack off just a little bit like we all learned to do with the second kid. I’d be happy to personalize them for you, too. http://amzn.to/1qcSArs
      Thanks again –Kerry Colburn

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  3. Dee says

    I cried and laughed reading this post – so true. This morning, at 5:30am, my #2 went into #1’s bed and took a car and smacked him on the head with it and when he woke up angry at her, she was like “Let’s PLAY!”

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    • Carisa Miller says

      I’m so glad you liked it! At our house when the baby gets whacked, she whacks back. Big sister’s gonna get creamed when little sister grows up.

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    • Carisa Miller says

      I get bummed too when I realize I’m missing out on one to attend the other. It’s inevitable when they demand different things at different times. When they demand different things at the same time, I crawl into a corner to hold myself and rock back and forth.

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  4. Amanda Martin says

    Oh yes. Nodded and agreed with every point. Except Point 14 should read:
    The next one: Times three. :)

    Brilliant. I’d say give to all new mums but a) they wouldn’t believe it and b) you’d put them off for life.

    My favourite ‘next child’ example came from my friend: her first child was two before he was allowed chocolate. By the time she had her third dhild (less than 4 years later) she said “I’d wean him on chocolate if it meant he would sleep through the night”. Amen.

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  5. Jessica says

    Oh, wow. I’m ROFL over here!

    So much truth to every single word. I’m sharing with all my mommy friends. Especially the ones who have only one or are expecting. Great piece!

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    • Carisa Miller says

      My girls are 30 months apart and sometimes I think if I had known what was coming when the oldest turned three, I would have waited to have another. But even if it were a million times crazier it would still be worth it.

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          • sarah says

            I started to use my feet with number one. My husband and I have our ds who is our first and 3 months old and are planning on a second hopefully a girl. I’m in baby mode right now and since hubby is fine with it I’m fine with it. He could have been my one and only child but he changed my mind about motherhood. I’m nervous due to having to do a csection. I told my husband that the correct answer to the question “what did we do?” When we get no sleep when number two is here and our first is jealous is “the right thing”.

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