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? 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?
Have patience, Kimosabe. Only fools rush in.
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??