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6 Things I Never Would Have Done with My First Baby (But I Do All the Time with Kid #2)

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Like a caricature of a first-time mom, I studied the books, took notes in the classes, and listened to every grandma on the street who told me my baby would catch pneumonia by not wearing socks in the summertime. But parenting rules are made to be broken. By second-time moms.  

Maybe it’s that we’re more confident and relaxed, having done it all before. Maybe we’re too busy with the older kid to get all hot and bothered about schedules and germs. Maybe double mom brain has simply erased our memories of what we’re supposed to do. But I like to think it’s that we’ve learned to listen to our inner voice, the one that says, “Trust your gut, mama. Everything else is just noise.”  

So this time around, I’m doing it my way. But believe me, with kid #1, I never would have attempted any of these unauthorized parenting maneuvers: 

1. Bed-Sharing 
I thought I knew tired. I didn’t. Tired is being up all night with a newborn and then chasing an energetic preschooler all day, never getting to sit down unless it’s to clean fingerprints off the underside of the table. I started pulling baby #2 into bed with me to nurse, not realizing how much we would both enjoy it. Before long, she was my new bedmate, self-serving at the boobie buffet all night while I got a surprising amount of sleep. My husband ditched us for the living room couch for a few months, but having a more well-rested (i.e. less b*tchy) wife was worth it to him. 

Related: 8 Truths About Why I Seem to Love My Second Child More Than My First

2. Co-Bathing
If it works in the bed, why not in the bath? Seriously, I hate those little infant tubs and I think babies do, too. Not exactly a spa experience when you’re soaking in about an inch of water. This time around, I’ve been the human bathtub, laying back in the warm suds with baby snug on my chest while I scrub her adorable bum. Yes, I’m sure she pees in our bath, but I count myself lucky that she’s never pooped in there. At least not yet.  

3. Finger Foods First
Screw purees; I am done cleaning out the Cuisinart. Instead, I feed my curious baby whatever she wants off my plate — even cold peanut noodles with Sriracha. I think we underestimate our babies, assuming they require bland, mushy food. As long as there are no choking hazards, it’s fun to share. And when my mac ‘n cheese-addicted 5-year-old spies her sister going to town on ratatouille and quinoa, she might even get inspired to try something new.  

4. The 5-Second Rule 
I was so intense about protecting my first kid from dirt and germs the first time around that we had a hand sanitizer pump by the front door. If a baby spoon ever hit the floor, that spoon went straight into the trash dishwasher. Needless to say, I’ve eased up quite a bit. If something drops on the floor at mealtime, a quick rinse or wipe down will suffice. And if I’m not super thorough clearing the baby scraps below the high chair, the dog will eat them. Except we don’t have a dog. It’s the baby. 

Related: Go Ahead, Ask Me if I Want Another Baby (Just Please Don’t Judge My Answer)

5. The Androgynous Look 
When you have a baby girl with no hair, it’s tempting to dress her in head to toe pink ruffles with a big flowery headband to broadcast, “Girl! Girl! Girl!”  With my first daughter, it was so important to me that strangers get it right. “He’s so cute” would totally crush me, but looking back, that seems so silly. Cute is cute, after all. With my second daughter, I’ve stopped trying to dress her for other people and have embraced a wardrobe filled with unisex hand-me-downs. Go ahead, tell me “he’s” gorgeous. I’m cool. 

6. Skipping the Nap 
I am a huge fan of babies who nap, and with my first kid, I did everything I could to protect her sleep schedule, routinely turning down fun plans if they interfered. But now that I’m juggling two kids’ schedules, I have no choice but to be more flexible. On big sister’s dance class days, the baby frequently misses her second nap (despite me playing “Twinkle Twinkle” on repeat in the car). So I put her to bed early and everyone survives. Imagine that.  

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Photo: Amy Wruble