Back when I had just one baby, I was a very different person. Having kids changes you, and with each baby you add to the mix, your parenting style changes, out of necessity and because you’re just better at it. I definitely did things with my third baby that I never would have done with my first baby (gasp!). I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, but l was more relaxed with my third baby than with my first baby. I’m willing to bet that if you think about it, you’ll notice some parenting differences between your first and third baby, too. Assuming of course that you’re crazy enough to have a third baby.
Here are a few parenting differences you may notice between your first and third baby:
Nursing your first baby: Sitting in your baby’s rocking chair in their perfectly decorated nursery, gazing into their eyes, petting their hair, rubbing their toes, and just taking it all in, all while making sure your baby is eating from both sides and eating every few hours. Breastfeeding is such a beautiful, special experience!
Nursing your third baby: Sitting on the sofa in front of the TV while your first two kids run around you, eating a snack and scrolling through Instagram, wondering if you fed your baby on the left or right side last time, and hoping that it was the side you didn’t start them on this time.
Sleep training with your first baby: You read Baby Wise when you were pregnant two times, so you’re basically an expert now on baby sleep schedules. You’re going to follow each stage and your baby WILL be sleeping through the night at eight weeks, and I will be sleeping through the night, too!
Sleep training with your third baby: You hear your baby crying in the middle of the night and roll out of bed to go feed him. It’s easier to just feed him and have him go back to sleep than to listen to him cry. He’ll sleep through the night eventually.
Starting solid foods with your first baby: Such an exciting time! You check with your pediatrician at six months, and then start your baby on rice cereal. You set him in his high chair for the first time, get the camera ready, and give him his first bite! What a cutie!
Starting solid foods with your third baby: You start giving your baby a few baby food purees at four months and by six months he’s eating off your plate.
Bathtime with your first baby: Every other night with a relaxing, lavender-scented body wash. You let him have a few toys and play in the tub for about ten minutes before rinsing him off and getting him out.
Bathtime with your third baby: How does your baby smell? If he smells okay, pass on bath time. If he smells stinky (or had a bad poopout that day) he probably needs a quick rinse in the tub before bed.
Cleaning up a poopout with your first baby: Gagging, using 1,000 wipes, soaking the changing pad and baby’s clothes immediately after to remove any stains, then sanitizing the changing pad area and giving baby a bath.
Cleaning up a poopout with your third baby: You’ve realized the value of a good wipe, so you use as few as you can to clean up the mess. Getting baby poop on your hands doesn’t gross you out as much anymore either, so if you get a little on your hand in the process, it’s not a big deal. Strip you baby down, wipe off the changing pad, and give your baby a good “wipe bath” before putting on a new diaper. You can wash the clothes and changing pad later.
Buying things for your first baby: You foolishly think your baby needs everything from baby sunglasses to three kinds of swaddles. You buy a bouncer, a swing, a playmat, a jumper, and five different pairs of baby shoes. Not to mention all the adorable tiny outfits you can’t wait to put him in!
Buying things for your third baby: After looking through storage from your first two and finding anything that can either be wash or wiped down, you buy some diapers, wipes, a new pacifier, and some baby lotion. You have everything else!
When your first baby is learning to crawl and walk: You’re constantly trying to encourage your baby and help your baby practice, bribing him with everything from snacks to your iPhone. You take lots of videos of his attempts and send them to everyone in your family.
When your third baby is learning to crawl and walk: You definitely aren’t in a rush for your baby to be mobile, because it just means you’ll have another one to keep up with. You’re lucky if you even get his first steps on video.
Milestones with your first baby: You write every little thing down in your baby’s baby book, recording the date, how you felt, and how exciting it was. You tell everyone and post every big milestone on social media. It’s too good not to share!
Milestones with your third baby: When did your baby get his first tooth again? Did he start rolling around four months? Or maybe it was six. Who knows?!
Feeding your first baby: You get him buckled safely into the high chair, put on a bib, and pull up a chair so you can carefully spoon-feed him homemade baby food. You’ve got wipes right next to you so he can’t make a big mess, and you’re constantly wiping his face so he doesn’t get food everywhere.
Feeding your third baby: You sit him in the high chair and put some Cheerios and blueberries on the tray. Then you go do your own thing while he eats.
When your first baby is crying: After immediately picking up your baby, you check to make sure he’s not poopy or wet. Then you go through the 5 S’s in your mind. Swaddle, stomach, shush, swing, and suck. You’ve got this!
When your third baby is crying: If he’s not poopy or dying, he’s fine. Let him cry.
When your first baby drops their pacifier: You quickly pick it up and frantically run to the bathroom to scrub it with hot soapy water before giving it back to your baby.
When your third baby drops their pacifier: You brush it off on your shirt and give it back to your baby.
When your first baby spits up on you: After panicking for a minute, you carefully set down your baby somewhere they’ll be happy and rush to change your outfit so you don’t smell like spit-up the rest of the day.
When your third baby spits up on you: Oh well. You wipe it with a burp rag and just deal. You’re going to put your pajamas on in three hours anyway, so who cares.
Worrying about germs with your first baby: You ALWAYS carry around both sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer, and you wipe down everything before your baby sits in it or touches it. If anyone touches your baby, you sanitize both your hands and theirs. No germs!
Worrying about germs with your third baby: Most days, you’re just lucky if you have an extra diaper in your bag, let alone sanitizer. Germs are everywhere, so there’s no use worrying about them!
Nap time with your first baby: You plan your whole day around your baby’s nap schedule, and you refuse to go anywhere around nap time because if your baby doesn’t get good naps, your whole day is ruined. No exceptions!
Nap time with your third baby: What time is the play date? 1pm? That’s my baby’s nap time, but he can nap in the car for a bit. He’ll be fine.
Going out in public with your first baby: We can’t leave the house for the first six to eight weeks, and then when we do, it’s only going to be for short amounts of time, and he’s going to stay in his car seat, covered, the whole time.
Going out in public with your third baby: We just got home from the hospital two days ago but let’s head to the zoo! I’ll just feed him while we’re there if he gets hungry.
Where your first baby sleeps: He’s going to sleep in our room for the first six months and then we’ll slowly transition him to his crib if he’s ready.
Where your third baby sleeps: After a few days of sleeping in your room, you move him into his crib in his own room. You’ve got a baby monitor and you need your own space.
There definitely a lot of parenting differences between your first and third baby, and if you ask me, a lot of them are for the better! Babies are pretty resilient, and once you’ve had a few, you get pretty good at taking care of them and knowing what they actually need. So if you’re on the crazy train where you and your husband are outnumbered by your kids (or you’re pregnant with your third and reading this post trying to mentally prepare), you’re in good company. Having three kids is a wild ride but it’s a lot of fun!