The Most Important Parenting Advice in the World … Ever.

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Someone really special came up with a really self-important book.

Someone really special came up with a really self-important book.

When you have your second child, there’s an innate part of you that wants to go back and fix some of the “mistakes” from the first time around. Maybe … “mistakes” sounds too critical, but there’s definitely the thought that crosses your mind like, “Mmmm, I probably won’t layer her bangs again with child safety scissors.”

Part of you may want to chillax more and enjoy the ride. Take the stick out and loosen up. You realize that you don’t have to be a helicopter parent and things will still turn out fine ok as is. And there’s the other part of you who wants to be a triathlete the second time and really take things up another notch! The first round was just training for Le Finale.

The second time. Easier or harder?

Many of my friends ask me how things are the second time. Easier? Harder? And I say, it’s not that things are easier or harder, but just different. She’s a different noob, and I’m different kind of parent. See that stick over there? Yeah… it came out of my ass. Chhh! Don’t touch it. That super paranoid, ultra perfectionist mom was not invited to this party, although I can tell she really really wants to crash it.

So, now that I’m about 10 months into parenthood part deux, I wanted to give some very important and useful parenting advice. I’ve had time to do the whole retrospect thing. “Some” might even call me a seasoned pro (by the way, from this day forth, I’m changing the name of this blog to Pro Mommy. It’s not pretentious if it’s true, right? I don’t know “Pro Mommy”, but I kind of already want to punch her in the face.)

Anyway, this morsel of advice is for the new parents. Hey, it’s for the washed up parents, too. I feel like it’s just simple, straightforward advice that is really worth mentioning because I seemed to have skipped over it the first time.

Here it is. In one word. Best baby advice out there….

Wait

{GESTURING Voila}

WAIT.

Wait? Wait for what? Patience, Kimosabe. Have patience. When you hear your baby crying … wait. Give it a few minutes. Not just one minute or 30 seconds. Remember, you’re not trying to beat an Olympic record in sprinting. Although, in retrospect, it always felt like I was trying to do that. It seemed if I let Noob Baby cry for 31 seconds, I was a total deadbeat parent. Completely negligent.

Is that child services at my door? Cuz my baby has been crying for one minute. Are the neighbors going to think I’ve abandoned my firstborn?? She’s been crying for 1.0001 minutes. We used to live in a two-story house, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t fly up those stairs like a banshee to get to her room before her whimper turned into a sniffle.

What does time buy you?

Remember, when you give it a few minutes, you allow yourself some time to figure out what your noob needs (milk, diaper, sleep, comfort). Those few extra minutes are great for troubleshooting and observing your noob’s crying cues, quirks and behavior. If you’re following the EASY routine, use it as a guideline to figure out what stage he’s on. Is it the “S” part of the EASY routine? Was the nap cut short and he’s still tired? Perhaps he’s having a hard time transitioning to the next sleep cycle. If you rush in immediately, you won’t give yourself the chance to learn the body language.

Not only does the wait buy you some thinking time, but it also gives your little one the opportunity to work some of her issues out. That, my friends, is the important part! Let your child figure out how to soothe herself. Your baby needs to learn how self-soothe, fall back asleep or get distracted by funny little baby things. Babies tend to fuss a lot. They cry, whimper, snort, and breathe loudly through their mouths like creepy old men. Many times, if they’ve been fed, changed, and slept well… they’re going to be ok fussing for a few minutes. I wasn’t able to helicopter in on a moment’s notice with NB2.0. I was usually busy wiping someone’s (who shall go unnamed) butt. Or cleaning spilled milk. Or feeding the cat. And feeding the cat. (I may be a chronic cat overfeeder). But the point of this digression is that I realized NB2.0 was ok with a little waiting! Many times, she ended up getting distracted, and she was perfectly fine five minutes later.

There’s nothing a good boob can’t fix

If after five minutes or so that hasn’t happened … the world is still as beautiful as it was five minutes ago. Your noob may be a bit more worked up, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s certainly nothing a good boob can’t fix. I mean, what is there that can’t be fixed with a good boob, right? That’s my motto. Sometimes I tell that to NB when she gets a paper cut and she looks at me like I’ve got food in my teeth. Who knows…

Did she say “cry it out”?!!

Now, I can sense that some zealots may be wondering if I’m advocating newborns being left to cry it out in a deep dark sensory deprivation chamber without so much as a safe word that they can’t even pronounce. To be clear, “waiting” and listening to what your child wants is not the same thing as letting them “cry it out.” If you’ve read about our sleep troubles with Noob Baby here on the blog, then you’ll know I am supportive of the Ferber method and have had amazing success with it in the past. There’s definitely a time and a place for that. But, that’s not what I’m talking about right now.

I’m simply reminding new parents of something as basic, but easily forgotten, as just WAIT and LISTEN. Give your little one a few minutes to settle down. And another piece of advice while I’m up here (on my soapbox), watch your baby monitor like it’s some sort of illicit alien porn that you were never meant to find! A baby monitor with a respectable display is your new best friend to give you peace of mind. Even if she’s crying, you’ll know she’s ok!

So, what’s the cardinal rule for new parents?

WAIT.

Have patience, Kimosabe. Only fools rush in.

Class dismissed!

What have you done differently the second, or third, or fourth time around? What is your most important cardinal rule for parenting? Are you a baby monitor voyeur? And the million dollar question …  are you a chronic cat overfeeder??

Comments

  1. 15

    Lovely, honest blog you’ve got :)
    I’ve just had my second (just gone 2 months old!) and I totally agree with …. Wait….! And with the different kids, different parenting. As Rose said, with the second, you know that this too shall pass.
    I read EVERYTHING with my first one…and NOTHING worked (for sleep) except nursing. All she wanted was boobie, all the time. But on the advice of my midwife I only let her nurse every 2 hours, so we had a lot of screaming for a loooonnnngggg time. So I said, I won’t do that with this one. But it turns out, this one isn’t so into that. But his problem (my problem) is short naps. while I’m more relaxed about the whole thing, it would be nice to have a longer stretch than 25 minutes to get any thing done. Plus, he doesn’t seem happy to wake up. I read the baby whisperer the first time round but can’t remember what she says to do when they wake up early from the nap…once you wait & they don’t go back to sleep… Can you remind me?

  2. 16
    Clareybells says:

    I LOVE your blog. My husband and I would not be getting any sleep and my eyes would continue to look like two “p*ss holes in the snow” without you! If I could hug and kiss you I would! and so would my husband! Thanks so much, keep it up, we love it.

  3. 17

    My second is almost 4 months old and I find myself much more relaxed although both my babies are fussy. With my first, I was always seeking a solution and everything was a problem. He spat up, I researched and tried different formulas; he needed rocking to fall asleep so I tried to sleep train…I was always waiting for the next phase so I could get my life back…

    With my second, I already accepted that I wasn’t getting my old life back and I am not looking to problem solve because I know most likely they will just outgrow it, and fast too (in hindsight). My second has reflux but I know she will be better by 6 months; she is only napping in a carrier, and I know she will soon be ok to nap in her crib.

    I always supported Ferberizing, and some moms really need to do it for their own health and sanity. For me, this time around, I don’t feel like sleep training at all. Partially I know she will soon sleep through the night on her own (right now, waking up 2 times to eat is not bad) and the need to have me rock her will also end (they become so different after 10, 12 months). Then there is also the danger to wake up my first…I will just wait for her to grow out of it. I am so much more confident this time around that I just believe everything is going to be ok, naturally.

    Maybe it is my perspective that is different, maybe because I am done having kids so this is my last time with a baby, I am stopping to smell the roses this time, to just enjoy her littleness, which i know will fly by in a heartbeat! Kinda wish I did this with my first!

    Glad I found your blog today. I enjoyed reading it!

  4. 18

    A very interesting read as we try to decide whether or not a No. 2 is in our future!

  5. 19

    Great advice. I’m considering having a second child and I’ve already come to the conclusion that I badly needed to WAIT with my son. I could never control it though–I had post partum anxiety, but I also simply had no clue about the self-soothing stuff. Guess I glossed over that in all the 1,267 books I read about infants! I’ve watched my SIL with her 3rd baby this past year and damn if that baby isn’t self sufficient in many ways mine was not at her tender age. Woulda/coulda/shoulda–next time!

  6. 20

    You are right. I am on child number 3 who is 4 months old and I am just now realizing this. I started out jumping at her every peep just like I did with my other two. She was becoming a terrible sleeper. These past days I’ve been just waiting. She’s never cried more than 2 minutes and then low and behold she falls asleep!! I can’t believe it. I’m excited for the future and the possibility that she could be our best sleeper yet if she learns how to fall asleep on her own so early. Thank you. Also I feel like no one ever says this or names this as the reason that subsequent kids are often better sleepers-out of necessity. But I was trying to keep her from crying at all cost and that’s not necessarily the best thing for her.

  7. 21
    Heather says:

    I am 6 weeks into baby #2 and finding myself some days I still rush up the stairs and other days I am a in the middle of attending to my 3 year old, so she will have to wait. I feel the more tense I get or if I don’t want her to disturb my son, the quicker I rush to her. Trying to have patience and take one day at a time.

    Love your website!

  8. 22

    ohhh bless you. seriously- i am 7.5 months preggo and doing my nightly routine of scouring the internet to learn how to keep a baby alive. i may or may not have googled “instructional vidoes about changing a diaper” a few minutes ago.

    i am going to go take a bath and drink some tea- right after bookmarking your blog so that I can read everything in my remaining 1.5 months. I feel a little less stressed right now.

  9. 23

    Thank you so much for your speedy response! I am so appreciative of your advice and thoughts. I always eagerly await your next post for advice and laughs. There aren’t many blogs or sites that I can relate to and who share about life with two kids so thank you!

  10. 24

    I am also 3.5 months with baby 2 and this waiting is just something I am finding difficult to let go and do. Especially to self soothe. Right now I have been sticking a binky in his mouth with every little whimper or cry at night and I just KNOW I am setting myself for bad habits but I don’t want him to wake up his sister who is 3. We are in the “afraid of monsters” and nightmare phase with her. Plus he is teething…like whole fist in his mouth most waking hours and uncontrollable drooling…so I just want to make him feel better. :-( Any advice for me? Do you all let yours self soothe during teething or not? Should I stop the binky thing at night?

    • 25

      Jackie – I always make an exception to all the norms and routines if there is something out of the ordinary like illness, travel or teething. If you know LO isn’t feeling well and is particularly needy, don’t hesitate to be there and give extra love and cuddles. I believe “the waiting” is a nice take-it-easy approach that buys you 5 minutes or so to gauge the situation. If there is clear evidence your LO is upset and not able to self-soothe, no need to drag it on. If he needs his binky for soothing, please keep it up! He’s going through a tough patch right now. Good luck :)

  11. 26

    I’m 3 months into baby #2 and I couldn’t agree with you more. My experience has been so similar to yours. Can’t get to her as quickly as I did with #1 and turns out all that waiting she’s been forced to do has helped her learn to be a champion self-soother. Kinda wish I could’ve been this cool and relaxed the first time around! ;)

  12. 27

    thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you for this post! I feel the guilt melting away. Ahhhhh thats what I needed.

  13. 28

    I was a champion stair sprinter when Little Man was just a wee babe. But after some Noob Mommy reading and subsequent sleep training, I became okay with letting LM cry for a few minutes when he would wake early from a nap. And you know what? Most of the time he would fall back to sleep! Within three minutes or so! My first and second were seventeen years apart, so drastically different experiences. But most importantly, I AM a chronic cat overfeeder!

  14. 29

    Great advice! I’m ten months in with my first and sometimes I act like if I do not get to him THIS INSTANT, the entire world may just collapse and cease to exist. Well said, simple and true. :-) Way to go, Pro Mommy…(definitely got a ring to it).

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