I’m so glad I don’t have to re-live the first year of parenting the little dude. All the things to learn and stuff! We’ve done a few things differently this time and I thought I’d jot them down, might be of interest to other parents navigating the decision minefield of the first year.
1 – Cosleeping
We tried to follow health advice with the little dude and only coslept reluctantly, anxiously, and half-heartedly. Often, I was up with him off and on from around 2am til 4am trying to get him to sleep in his cot, before finally relenting and bringing him in with us. Lunacy! Unnecessary sleep deprivation! We coslept with B pretty much from the start. When he was teeny tiny, Mr Daddy slept on the couch because he was worried about smothering risks. Now, B joins the both of us in our bed the first time he wakes after we go to sleep, and we are getting a helluva lot more sleep.
2 – Embracing naps in the buggy
I wrote a blog when the little dude was a baby, a diary from his perspective, and in that blog I called his cot “the sleeping prison”. He wasn’t a fan of it. As a result, I held him while he napped so, so often when he was small. That’s something you can’t do so much with number two, if number one is around during the day! Buggy naps have been a fantastic trick up our sleeves. B is still happy to sleep in the buggy, even though it’s getting kinda cramped for him now, and it gives me a lot more flexibility in planning our days.
3 – Expressing milk
D was never keen on a bottle and we didn’t push it. B took to a bottle fine, and so I left him a bit more often a bit younger. I’m also expressing regularly for his creche days, which I never did with D. I’m surprised I’m still doing it, B is settled at creche now and he’s old enough that he would be ok without expressed milk for that length of time. The main reason I’m still doing it is that the new pump I have, the nifty Haakaa one, is so easy. Also if I pump at work and he has milk at creche then I don’t have to feed him immediately on pick up which makes it easier to manage the little dude’s desire to get home quickly.
4 – Being more sanguine about the upsets
When D was a baby and he cried and I couldn’t comfort him quickly, I would get a bit distressed myself. What was a doing wrong? How did I stop him crying? I didn’t realise then that a) sometimes babies just cry because the world is strange and unfamiliar and you don’t always need to figure out the reason and b) if you’re holding them and soothing them and they still cry it’s ok, you’re doing what you need to, they will stop crying eventually. Second time round I haven’t seen crying as so much of a problem. By necessity, alone with two of them a lot of the time, B sometimes had to wait in his buggy crying while I got D into his outdoor clothes, or B had to wait on the floor of the lounge crying on a rug while I helped D go to the toilet. And my attitude was – ah, the baby alarm is going off, that means he’s still alive and he’s not presently happy! Sometimes people are upset, babies are people, and they don’t know how to swear yet so they might cry a bit more often than adults. Ok, we’re coming soon baby! I think that being more comfortable with upsets as part of babyhood has actually helped me to provide a calm and reassuring presence when he needs it. Once you realise you can’t stop the crying and it’s not your job to stop the crying, you can take on the much easier task of cuddling them while they cry. This is true for D now, too. Something flipped for me when he became a toddler and would cry for more discernible reasons, I realised that I shouldn’t be worried about trying to stop the tears, I just need to be the shoulder for them to fall on.
5 – Leaving him to his own devices more often
Classic second child. Continue your important task of taking all the books off the shelf my lad, I’m making dinner, come crawl up to me when you need me.
6 – Knowing what comes next
Knowing what comes next is so great. I love the spoilers. This time next year, B will be talking and I’ll be able to plonk both kids in front of a video together! WOW. At around 20 months, I felt like D’s rate of development slowed to a manageable pace where I didn’t have to think all the time I don’t know what he’ll be doing in a few months, how can I plan my life??????! With the second bub, you know more or less what each phase feels like, you know the easier bits and harder bits approaching. This helps so much. The wide-openness of parenting the first child in the baby days is tough, eh. You only just find your feet and then things shift. The baby who loved the baby carrier is too heavy. The baby who had three regular naps now only wants two naps. The baby is mobile. The baby needs solids. The baby is pulling up to walk. A newborn vs a 10 month old are entirely different creatures, it’s mind-boggling. I love this phase we’re in now though. This patch where they can crawl but not yet walk. It’s one of my favourites. And knowing how quickly it’ll go this time, I can feel myself enjoying it more. Yet at the same time, knowing that the delightful phase of newly walking and starting to talk comes next, I don’t mind that it’s slipping away.