One of my best friends had a little baby at the same time as I had Shine but it’s her first child while Shine is my second. As we compare parenting notes along the way, it’s often made me think about the things I’ve done differently this time round.
I had Sun’s name down to begin swimming lessons when he was 6 weeks old. I had read a lot about the mammalian dive reflex and how it’s easier for a baby to get used to the water while they still have this reflex to hold their breath under water. I was determined that he would start swimming early and become used to the water as I love the water and couldn’t imagine having a child who didn’t share this passion with me.
So Shine and swimming? I’m ashamed to say she hasn’t been in the pool yet. It just hasn’t come together, despite my best intentions. Thing is, I’m not convinced it will make any difference in the long run. Shine loves the bath in a way that Sun never did, and despite having had lessons since he was 6 weeks old, Sun isn’t doing laps of the pool on his own and isn’t the most confident swimmer in his class.
Another thing that I’ve noticed I’ve done differently is weaning. I did baby-led weaning (BLW) with Sun but if I’m brutally honest with myself I did change what we ate a lot to accomodate him and the essence of BLW is that your child just eats what you’re having. I had time to think about how I could vary the flavours and textures every night of the week and what new vegetables and proteins I could introduce each week. With Shine, I don’t have time to plan making sushi so she can experience the texture of nori and the taste of wasabi. She has had sausage and lentil casserole more often than I’d like as I know that Sun will definitly eat the lot without any complaints.
Time will tell how this pans out but despite being a fantastic eater at 12 months old, Sun went through a period of about a year that he’s only just come out the other side from, where he was an atrocious eater. He would have lived on pasta with pesto and olives if I had let him. Shine has less attention devoted to her while she’s eating as well and I think it’s made her a more relaxed eater. Sometimes I look over at her highchair and realise she’s eaten the lot and is sat there playing happily with her spoon. With Sun this would have had us cheering and doing some sort of celebratory dance. Maybe less attention will be a good thing for her eating habits.
My friend mentioned the other week that she is putting together a sensory basket for her little boy and I had flashbacks to spending whole afternoons online sourcing bits and pieces for the basket and looking at lists of fabulous things to include for Sun. His favourite thing about the sensory basket? The basket itself, of course. He’d usually tip everything out, start chewing the cellophane while he banged the basket on the floor. Sensory exploration? Check!
This time round I had forgotten about their existence to be honest and my friend’s reminder made me notice that actually Shine has the contents of the sensory basket all around her anyway. She helps herself to the pine cones that decorate our fireplace. She rubs the ribbon on her toys. She plays with a rubber spatula on the kitchen floor while I cook. Her stacking cups are, well, cups, stacked together. The only difference is that I don’t notice her doing this and say to her, “Oh are you touching a pine cone? That’s very bumpy and rough isn’t it?” I hope this won’t hold her back in life. I’m fairly confident she will still figure out the word associations herself at some point. I don’t know any adults who don’t know what ‘bumpy’ means so that gives me hope.
I think Shine has been a little slower than Sun to crawl because with Sun I could structure our days around him and ensure he had plenty of time on the ground with me encouraging him to crawl by luring him this way and that with remote controls and mobile phones. Nowadays I spend more time out of the house with Shine doing things with Sun so she has less floor time. She has started pulling up against the couch sooner than Sun did though and I think this is because she’s motivated to reach him and the toys or books he’s looking at on the couch. She is desperate to get to him wherever he is and join in with his playing and I think this has motivated her to try and move about and extend her capabilities.
These are just a couple of examples of the differences I’ve noticed parenting second time round. Of course I might be seeing the differences as being positive, or certainly as doing no damage in the long run, because otherwise I’d feel guilty. I wouldn’t want to think she’s missing out or having a rough time as a second child so how much do I see what I want to see? It’s not possible to be completely objective about these things, you can’t separate out factors like nature vs nurture, but it is interesting to step back and think about how I’ve changed as a mother and how I mother my second child differently.