Every first-time mom encounters a certain degree of trial-and-error the first few months of her baby’s life; that’s a fact. Sure, our intentions are in the right place, and we do the best we can. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20. In retrospect, there are always a few things we’d do differently, if given the chance.
Well, I’ve been given the chance – sooner rather than later. Because I’ve been asked this question numerous times, today I’m sharing just what, exactly, I plan to do differently with baby no. 2.
I don’t consider my mothering methods with Mila as mistakes, oh no. But I’m a little more experienced now. So I hope to – at the very least – be more open to different approaches on certain topics. Of course, I’m perfectly aware that parenting decisions and methods largely depend on the child; what works for Mila may not necessarily work for baby number 2, so I’m allowing myself lots of grace and, again, room for experimentation.
But enough with the disclaimers; let’s get to it, shall we?
- I will introduce the pacifier and the bottle right away. To avoid nipple confusion, I waited several weeks after birth to introduce a pacifier to Mila. Such was the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Lo and behold, she never took it. I introduced a bottle even later – not so much for fear of latching issues, but because the process of warming the milk, making sure it’s properly stored, so on and so forth seemed like too much of a hassle, whereas breastfeeding was more immediate. Unsurprisingly, after several months of exclusive breastfeeding, Mila had zero interest in a bottle.
- I will be more relaxed about baby’s baths. Mila’s first couple baths were administered by her grandmother, because I was paralyzed by fear of doing something wrong. This time, I plan to have a much more laid-back approach; no need for infant bath tubs, special washcloths, baby towels, etc.
- I will resist the “container baby” lifestyle by encouraging more floor time. “Container baby” refers to a baby who spends a majority of her time in some sort of enclosed space: car seats, bouncers, bassinets, swings, loungers, jumpers, walkers, bumbo seats, and any other devices that ‘contain’ a baby’s movement. Looking back, I can clearly see how the container baby lifestyle influenced Mila’s physical development, so I’m thinking to try a different approach this time.
- I will use a rocking cradle instead of a stationary bassinet for the first few months. With Mila, I was very adamant about following all the sleeping rules: 1) no rocking, 2) put her down while she’s still awake, 3) use white noise and blackout shades, 4) move her into her own room around 3-4 months, 5) sleep-train her around 3-4 months. Despite all that, her sleeping was still quite unpredictable at times. There were entire months where the only way to get her to sleep was to bounce on a yoga ball for hours on end (I STILL have nightmares about that!). Then, just like that, without any help from me, she started sleeping through the night soon after turning one. So with that in mind, why not make those first few months just a teeny bit more bearable with a rocking cradle rather than a stationary bassinet? I highly doubt I will “get her used to being rocked to sleep” – which was my biggest fear with Mila.
- I will dress my baby in clothes I genuinely like. The question of clothes seems very frivolous in comparison to some of these other resolutions, but you would not believe how much stress it’s caused me. I’ve always been extremely OCD about the patterns, colors, embellishments, textures, etc. I surround myself with and put on my body. So, while I preferred to dress Mila a certain way, I felt immense guilt over not using the many, many clothes I received from others. In order to avoid this dilemma with baby no. 2, I’ve either sold or donated most baby clothes that did not fit my personal aesthetic.
- I will pack far, far less in my hospital bag for labor and delivery. I shared my hospital packing list last week. Let’s just say that the list of items I’m bringing is nearly half the list of items that I am purposely leaving at home.
- I will try baby-wearing sooner rather than later. I imagine that with a toddler in tow, baby-wearing may be more of a necessity than anything else. Regardless, I don’t want to wait until the baby is older before introducing wraps or carriers, like I did with Mila.
- I will attempt to venture out of the the house sooner. With Mila, leaving the house felt like climbing Mt. Everest in those first few weeks. I would inevitably forget to bring something important like diapers, or she’d have a blow-out right before leaving, or something else would always, always come up. This resolution may be a bit difficult to keep, however, because I’m sure leaving the house with 2 under 2 is a whole other experience. Plus, baby no. 2 is due mid-February, which isn’t exactly the prime time to take a newborn and toddler out for a walk. But my point is that now that I’ve gained a bit of experience, I hope that venturing out of the house won’t feel as overwhelming.
- I will encourage napping on-the-go, instead of always making sure we are home in time for baby’s naps. Right now Mila sleeps from 8PM to 8AM and still naps twice a day – quite the ideal scenario, if you ask me – so a part of me is hesitant to try a different approach to sleeping with baby no. 2. However, Mila will only sleep in her own crib, in her own room, with her stuffed bunny next to her and the blackout shades closed – teeny-tiny inconveniences in light of the big picture, but inconveniences all-the-same. Maybe if I had been less strict about her sleeping schedule, she’d be more flexible with where and how she sleeps.
- I will take more photos at the hospital (and hopefully, overall). We have, like, five photos of Mila in the hospital – something I very much regret. I recently upgraded my iPhone to XS and am hoping that’ll encourage me to better document those first few days.
- I will hold and cuddle my newborn more. Worried that Mila would get used to being held, I was constantly hyper-aware of needing to put her down. This resolution goes hand-in-hand with baby-wearing and is a big reason I’m set on introducing wraps and carriers earlier.
- I will borrow less and just buy any essentials I need. With Mila, friends and family were so eager to let me borrow things – baby gear, clothes, etc. – that I ended up with far more than is necessary. With baby no. 2, I’ve decided not to borrow as much but instead to just buy what I need. This not only forces me to be very intentional in the baby gear I invest in (because budgets!), but also allows me to purchase items I genuinely like the look of (again with that OCD).
- I will embrace sleep deprivation. Before, I would spend days, weeks, months agonizing over how to best handle this or that. Only when I’ve completely surrendered my need for control do I discover that everything falls into place on its own. Such has been our experience with everything from sleeping to nursing to certain milestones.
- I will not use any pregnancy or newborn tracking apps (except the Wonder Weeks!). Like many of these resolutions, this one is another example of having a more laid-back approach to mothering. In the early months after Mila was born, I would agonize over every little detail. When did I feed her last? For how long? How many times has she pooped? What color was it? When did she fall asleep? This tendency to track every little detail is natural for first-time parents and is often recommended. But, oh, how incredibly draining it is! This time, I’m going to trust my instincts a little more and consult the Internet a little less.
- I will make my mental wellbeing a priority and not be afraid to ask for help. If I recall correctly, the first time I left Mila with a babysitter, she was about 3 months old already. I ended up going to Target to buy some diapers, and it was the strangest yet quite welcome experience to be out and about without the baby. I hadn’t realized just how desperately I needed some time to just be alone – even if I wasn’t necessarily doing anything relaxing. This time, I hope to establish some healthier boundaries for “me time.” I imagine it being far more important with two babies under two years old.