The other day my husband and I were at lunch with my son, who happened to be sleeping, so we had a chance to actually speak uninterrupted. We chatted for a few minutes about everyday things, and then he looked at me and asked, “What do you want to do differently with this baby?”
We are expecting our second child in December. Our kids will be 23 months apart, and our experiences with our son as a newborn are still fairly fresh in our minds. This time, when we bring our newborn home, we won’t be first-time parents, and we will at least be more confident that we know what we’re doing. We have learned many lessons from our son, and while we are so proud of the kid he is becoming, we have a few things that we want to do differently this time around:
- Let more people hold the baby: while I didn’t make a conscious decision not to let other people hold our baby, I just wanted to hold him all the time. When others held him and he fussed, it was just easier to take him from the person because I knew he would be happier. Well, there is no way to know whether that really contributed or if he is just clingy by nature, but William is very, very attached to me. He lets very few other people hold him – only my husband and some close family members. And if I am in the room, he almost always prefers me. I know he will outgrow this and it’s not a huge problem, but it can be exhausting and it’s a bummer for friends and family when they want to hold him and play with him and he won’t have it. Of course my husband and I will hold the baby the most in the beginning, but I want to make an effort to encourage him or her to be comfortable with other people. So I plan to be more relaxed about passing the baby around.
- Do more tummy time: this may sound pretty specific, but we can broaden it to say “do all the stuff you’re supposed to do to encourage newborn development.” My son hated tummy time and cried every time, and my tired and hormonal self just couldn’t take it. So we didn’t do much tummy time early on. Again, I can’t know for sure, but it makes sense to me that this was behind William hitting his milestones a little late. As most parents know, tummy time ultimately leads to rolling over, which eventually leads to crawling. William hit all his milestones eventually and is a perfectly normal toddler, but it did cause me some anxiety when comparing him to other babies that I knew (big mistake, I know, but all moms do it).
- Encourage better sleep habits: confession time, my son is 18 months old and is still not a great sleeper. Sometimes he sleeps all night, sometimes he doesn’t. I don’t want to go through another year and a half of not sleeping. I confess I don’t have much of a plan yet, but I plan to do a lot of research between now and the birth. With my son, I guess I just assumed he would eventually sleep longer and longer stretches until he slept all night, but I’m going to try to be more proactive this time about my baby’s sleeping.
As my due date nears, I hope I can keep reflecting on my experience so far raising William and use what I have learned to keep becoming a better parent. I know there are a lot more lessons in our future, and I’m just doing my best to stay open to them!