Second Babies are Easier

Sometimes I speak to moms who have only one child, but hope to someday have another. And almost all of them share a concern – the same concern, in fact, that I had before my own second child arrived. And that concern is how you can possibly meet the needs of two kids at the same time.

If this is something that you’re worried about, I have good news for you. Second babies are almost always easier. But here’s the thing – it’s not necessarily because the babies themselves are somehow different, although they are. It’s not that second babies don’t need the same things that first babies do, because they generally do. Second babies are easier because, as parents, we have lightened the heck up. We have figured out that kids are resilient. We have discovered that this time is actually very short, and passes quickly. So we don’t agonize as much about every little thing, and we allow those subsequent children (and ourselves) more freedom.

Hannah dangling upside-down
The dangling upside-down used to freak me out

When Hannah was a baby I was super-careful about everything. What she ate and when was a major source of concern for me. Every word I spoke was measured and considered. And these aren’t bad things, but I’m not sure that it was as all-fired important as I thought it was. Hannah’s first birthday cake was sweetened with applesauce, for example. She didn’t like it, which isn’t that surprising, because it wasn’t that good. Did denying her actual sugar for an additional 6 months significantly benefit her? At the time I certainly thought so, but given the heaping helping of refined sugar Jacob got on his first birthday you can tell what I think in retrospect.

Jacob in a hold
Jacob, playing in sand which is dirty and likely infested with germs

Expanding our family to include a second baby wasn’t a walk in the park, don’t get me wrong. I am much busier than I was with just one child. We introduced a whole new dynamic into our family, and it definitely took some adjusting. But the adjustment was different than with the first baby, and wasn’t about the baby at all. By the time Jacob arrived I knew babies, I had done babies, and I had confidence. Caring for him was easier from the get-go, and has mostly remained so. And I found the adjustment period shorter and smoother the second time, because I knew that the early days wouldn’t last forever.

Do you have more than one child? If so, did you also find that second baby easier? Or are you the exception to the general rule? Please share!

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  1. Second baby definitely easier! I totally agree. Adjustment from "childless" to "parent" is considerably more difficult than to "parent of more than 1".

  2. omg, that's SO weird. I have a friend (from NZ) named Karen Munro too!

  3. I completely agree. I'm enjoying parenting more, and I actually do feel like it's easier even though I've got two to look after. I think it's more fun, because I am less freaked out about whether I'm doing it "right."

  4. So true! There are gifts each additional baby brings to a family– first babes are the wonder and magic of transforming us into mothers, and second babies so often allow us to relax and trust ourselves so much more quickly! And if you have number three? Well, I think that’s the point where you realize more than ever how fast it all goes…either that or you just settle into the chaos and enjoy the ride:)

  5. Not in our experience. Instead, the second baby is very different from the first. Sure, some things are easier, but generally when we encounter something where we think “Oh, we’ve seen this before!” the way we handled it the first time around is almost always wrong for kid #2. As a result, often the first thing we try to handle “a situation” sets us back in dealing with it.

    .-= Anthony´s last post ..Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-04 =-.

  6. Fun! Thanks for posting this. DH and I are going back and forth on the question of baby #2 right now, even though the BP is only 5 months. We’re of an age that we don’t want to wait too long before trying again! I think my mental process is worrying about neglecting my precious BP in favour of baby #2 and the challenges of two future teenagers… not to mention what Anthony said about previous strategies being wrong for the next one! And then I worry about the only child syndrome. The BP isn’t technically an only child, but her half sister is already 13 and lives in South America – so she’ll be more like a cousin than a sister to the BP, I expect. I continue to go back and forth…
    .-= CaroLyn´s last post ..Breastfeeding and Tongue Tie =-.

  7. My second kid is soooo much easier than my first. I’ve spent a lot of time considering if it’s just cause I’ve lightened up or if she’s really that much more easy-going. I think it’s both. Em is just not as much in-your-face crazy as K was (and is). If I could guarantee that any future kids would be as chill as Em I might even consider having a third…not that Hubby would ever agree!
    .-= Marilyn´s last post ..Moving Forward =-.

  8. I have four- my second was the hardest, because my first child was 6 1/2 when the second was born. So we were past all the baby stuff and starting over again. And he was a screamer. Very high needs. From two to three was easy, we were experts by then and from three to four was a cakewalk.
    .-= Joni Rae´s last post ..Introducing Cooper =-.

  9. Definitely agree. Having two children has NOT been twice the effort/difficulty of having one. They entertain each other–I’ve noticed this already and my little one isn’t quite 5 months. The birth was easier, and breastfeeding was so, so much easier! It is really challenging, but having one was too. My abilities and what I thought I was capable of have grown. Most of all, I know which things *not* to do this time. Also, it goes without saying that the second is a ton less expensive, particularly if they are both boys or both girls, because of hand-me-downs. Anyway, I’m glad we had both of them and we want more 🙂
    .-= Jenny´s last post ..Last post of the decade =-.

  10. When we were pregnant with our daughter (our one and only so far), I saw so many of our peers getting really worked up about everything. The best advice I got was from one of these ‘supermoms’ who said that if she could do it again, she’d lighten up. So that’s what I tried to do. The lightening up part wasn’t easy but in the end it has made for a much more enjoyable experience. She gave us great advice and I only hope that we have such a relaxed time with future kids.
    .-= Kelly´s last post ..MamaMed Series =-.

  11. I like this pic with Hannah! It’s so cool!

  12. Totally agree — not true for everyone, but by and large it is the case. And I don’t think you meant that it’s easier because you already know how to do everything baby and kid-related, because of course every child has their own personality. If we sat Angus on the stairs for a time-out, he sat there looking dejected until the time was up. If we did the same thing we Eve, she waited until we looked away and stomped off defiantly, so we needed to go another way (that didn’t involve beating her senseless). But mostly with Angus I was so demolished by the constant sense of ‘I’m never not going to be a parent again, and what if I suck at it’, and with Eve I just went with it. And she was easy in real terms too — we could lie her on a pillow on the floor and play music for hours and she’d bliss out. Also, Angus never liked it when i was out of sight, but if Eve could see angus, she was cool. I felt like I should pay him for babysitting.
    .-= Allison´s last post ..***********Can I borrow a cup of sugar and your new year’s eve party please? =-.

  13. oh, second baby was so much easier, but I credit two things for that.

    A.) I knew more about natural parenting – breastfeeding/babywearing/etc helped make things so, so much easier for me.

    B.) I TOTALLY relaxed. I used to be the mom that sterilized the binky every time it was dropped. Now I just flick the dirt off and shove it back in his mouth. That’s what happens. With #2 (and so on down the road) you just relax more. That, in itself, makes things a million times easier. I no longer feel the need to bubble wrap every square inch of the house.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last post ..2010: The Year of Gina? =-.

  14. We are definitely one of the exceptions! Our second was tons harder…mostly due to colic. We survived the first year by God’s grace alone!!

    However, I can’t imagine how hard it would have been had she come first…add all the first time parenting issues you mentioned, and there might not have been a #2!! 🙂

  15. Yes, I definitely found that to be true. I was much more confident, relaxed and I just knew more about babies by then (obviously). I guess I would also point out that going from 0 to 1 completely changes your life in every way so it’s kind of like getting knocked on your ass. By the time you go from 1 to 2, you’re already used to the lack of sleep, the changes to identity, social life, freedom.

    My poor firstborn is where I struggle because I’m always learning the stage he’s in for the first time. When his sister was born, having a baby was EASY but helping a toddler/preschooler adjust to a sibling was HARD!! Having a second baby is certainly not a cake walk but I found the hard part was with the older one/family in general, not with the baby.
    .-= BluebirdMama aka @childbearing´s last post ..Vision =-.

  16. Second babe has been easier for us too. In our case, I had terrible postpartum depression after our first and it unfortunately affected my ability to cope with a new baby since I couldn’t cope with anything at all. For our second, we did absolutely every single possible preventative thing my doctors recommended and avoiding me falling into the deep dark pit. So it has made a huge difference and provided me with a whole new joyful experience that I am still sad I missed out on the first time.

    Others do tell me the second is easier too, though — cause they have lightened up, big time. However, my mother swears she never would have had any more children if she’d had my brother first! 😉
    .-= coffeewithjulie´s last post ..Lucky number 13 =-.

  17. My biggest fear (now that I’m pregnant with my 2nd) is that breastfeeding will be difficult with baby #2. It was mostly straightforward with my first. There were some hurdles, but nothing huge. I keep hearing stories of people struggling to breastfeed their second- and that worries me.

    I think next time around I’ll make more use of baby carriers. I used them when I was out and about with my first, but not so much in the house where I could just hold her. Having a toddler around will probably lead to more babywearing in the home.
    .-= TopHat´s last post ..Inquisition Monday: Nursery =-.

  18. I have to agree with BluebirdMama. My second is a breeze compared to the first and I have to chalk it up to experience and chilling out. Plus she has been somewhat more laid back than the 1st

    It is the 1st that I struggle with. She is still as demanding as she was as a baby and it’s frustrating trying to figure out how to deal with her energy and antics without losing my mind.

    There will probably always be challenges dealing with 2. I seem to be experiencing delayed sibling rivalry. I didn’t have to deal with jealously and acting out when A was a baby but now that she is older and more communicative V acts out against her and frequently announces she doesn’t want a sister anymore. Some days I seriously wonder what I was thinking having any kids let alone 2! 🙂
    .-= Carrie´s last post ..Christmas Catchup =-.

  19. Our strategy for the first one was to chill out and pretend he was the second child. We created an imaginary first child where we were the perfect parents and hovered over him/her at every step, and now Mikko’s the neglected second child. Ha ha!

    We came up with this strategy after talking to parents of multiple children who said that with the first, you obsess; with the second, you relax; and with the third, you let them juggle knives.
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last post ..Calling for submissions for the first Carnival of Natural Parenting! =-.

  20. This is such a relief! Now can you tell me about a third child? hahaha I want three, hubby wants only two, but I keep trying to tell him no one even notices the third because adding to a brood is a thousand times easier than going from 0 to 1. I’m going to point him to this post about going from 1 to 2. Maybe he’ll believe 2 to 3 really will be that much easier!
    .-= Jessica – This is Worthwhile´s last post ..Bite-sized thoughts & cold coffee =-.

  21. I so agree with you. My first was sheltered from all sugar, chocolate, salty foods and grease as well as tv. She was read to about 50 times a day. And while these things have paid off for the most part, number two gets all of them. And guess who’s more laid back? Yep, number two.
    .-= Melodie´s last post ..Who’s Breasts Are They Anyway? =-.

  22. am gonna send this on to my friends expecting their second v soon! good to know!

  23. I still find the hardest thing about having two is knowing what to do with my eldest as she enters each new stage. With my son I have some past expereince to draw on.
    One way in which it is easier with two is that she takes on the job of amusing him. I am just along for the ride.

  24. No contest. Second baby was WAY easier! Of course my first was a “high needs” baby, and the first born of my entire circle’s generation (no one to ask advice from!) so I may not be a good example.

    But the experience gained by the first helped make the second so much less stressful! I understood the importance of naps, the inevitability of germs, poop, mucus, puke, blood and contageous things…. as well as the inevitablility of it all being temporary (thank heavens). I also learned by the second one that asking for help makes me a better (and more sane) mommy, it is not a sign of weakness.
    .-= *pol´s last post ..Travelling Light? =-.

  25. This post gives me hope!
    .-= Old School/New School Mom´s last post ..Chores Chores and No Chores =-.

  26. Definitely. And third kids, even easier.

  27. I’m with Jessica on wanting to convince my husband to have 3 so thank you Summer!!!
    .-= BluebirdMama aka @childbearing´s last post ..Vision =-.

  28. We will likely only have one child and we are trying very hard to treat him like a “second” child. Of course, the very act of “trying hard” is so first child isn’t it?

    .-= harrietglynn´s last post ..Upcoming WordCamps =-.

  29. I’m with ya.

    The first diaper I ever changed was on a newborn Q-ster, minutes after paramedics took my husband in an ambulance to the hospital, leaving me home alone with the baby. Talk about stress. (SwingDaddy had caught a virus while we were at the hospital and passed out after caring for the rest of us all day/night when we got back – I was still recovering from preeclampsia. Hmmm. I need to write that story up sometime.)

    Everything about Baby One was new and scary. The second time? Like you say, I know the ropes, and I know that the tough parts will pass.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Where’d the Time Go? =-.

  30. What perfect timing… we are actually having our 2nd baby TOMORROW! (Scheduled C-section) and how to handle 2 is of course one of my big worries since I will be home alone with them.

    Another fear/worry I have that other moms seem not to talk about (is it just me?) is “What am I taking away from #1 by having #2 ?) I’m an only child, so all during the last 9 months everytime I did something with my daughter (who is 2 and half) I would think “We won’t be able to have this time, or do this together once the baby is here” Even as I am getting ready to go to the hospital tomorrow, my biggest concern is how my #1 will adapt to being away from me and her daddy for so long. (Current hospital rules will not allow her to visit due to cold/flu season…no one under 18) We’ve never been apart for more than 24 hours and I just worry that she will be unhappy and then when I do arrive home with #2 that she will equate “missing mommy” with “new brother”…let the resentment begin.

    Why don’t they come with handbooks?
    .-= Jen´s last post ..Thu, Dec 17, 2009 =-.

  31. The hardest part of the second baby for me has been the inability to find ANY free time. At least when there was only one you could pass him off to the other parent and get yourself a much needed break. Now the first and second demand our attention and their needs are very different so we find it much harder to spell each other off. Like you I stress less, my guy had ice cream for the first time at 9 months (okay just a smidgen, but ice cream nonetheless). Perhaps we also worry less the second time because there is less time to worry. I don’t have any time to navel gaze because I’m being called to the next task or by a 3yo who also demands my attention. Great post as always!
    .-= Christine LaRocque´s last post ..Revelations for a new decade =-.

  32. Totally agree. The second, or third child might be more difficult in terms of temperament, health etc, but we as parents are not just paralyzed by ‘first-ness’.
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Under my tree: edibles =-.

  33. So darn true!!! I can totally relate, and it is even more pronounced with the third baby, lol. Never thought I could manage three kids, but somehow I do it every single day (and usually don’t do too bad of a job, if I do say so!).

  34. Oh gosh, my second is so much more difficult than #1. She is SO needy/whiney/barfy!! My first was so laid back, never cried, and savored every oz. I fed him (hence his 97% percentile for ages!).

    I was super laid back with #1 and never stressed really so I can’t say I’m less stressed this time around…especially when getting ready to go anywhere. They are only 18 months apart and it’s a total hassle/workout to get ready and go anywhere. Makes me want to hibernate especially since it’s winter. ugh!!

    I AM babywearing her as an infant, which I didn’t do with #1 and am loving it.

  35. When I had my son, if you asked me how I was doing or what kind of baby he was I would have said ‘great!’ and ‘doubly great’! I loved my time with him, he was sweet and funny – though really, he was high maintenance about sleep, needed a pretty strict schedule etc. But that didn’t seem to be too much of a problem.

    Now that I’ve had my daughter – a very relaxed, easy sleeper, cuddly, mellow, go-with-the-flow kinda kid, she is a breeze and looking back he was not nearly as easy – ha!

    I agree with others though, I am more relaxed this time around but I did things in very similar ways with both – just goes to show there is something to be said about nurture vs nature – nature still plays a part 😉
    .-= Rebecca´s last post ..School Registration is coming – Avoid the School Supply Stress =-.

  36. @Jen – I initially worried about “taking away” from baby #1 until it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be “taking away,” I’d be adding. Kids need a family as much as they need one-on-one time with their parents. I think about how much I appreciate my brother’s perspective on things and how much he’s added to my understanding and experience of life, and it makes me happy to provide my baby the same thing.

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  1. […] good news is that second babies are almost always easier. At least it was that way for me. When baby Jacob arrived I had more perspective, and more […]

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