Second Babies Get Much Worse Parents Than Baby Number One

Mom Moment 37

Remember when you had your first baby and you were filled with the irrational fear that you’d take them home and break them immediately? They were perfect and you wanted them to stay that way. Ah, those were the days.

The second baby? Not so much. It's called second baby syndrome and it's real.

The first time you read every parenting book. You bought all the right toys, gadgets, and recommended baby products. Everything had to be perfect. The second time? Not so much.

My first daughter was always dressed impeccably, never a hair out of place, food was specifically selected to meet the daily requirements of the food pyramid. She never sat in a wet diaper and she always got the exact right amount of sleep to play ratio. I doted on her and we read, sang, and cuddled together. Television was limited. We took classes and made play dates.

I’d see those poor moms in the grocery store with two and three children, looking overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I pitied those poor women. They were having complete meltdowns and screaming at their children who were simply asking for cereal. I’d guess to myself that they just weren't cut out for parenting.

Yeah, I was kind of an asshole.

Fast-forward four years and I’m the crazy lady with no mirrors in my house, screaming at the girls for asking me to buy them something, everything. Who can remember? They are always talking. They never stop and they talk over one another.

Why did no one warn me of second baby syndrome and how it might affect me? Suddenly my days went from having a handle on everything and endless patience to feeling like I had to run just to catch up.

I was drowning in motherhood.

I felt like the world’s biggest failure. My life became a giant blur of babies, diapers, milestones, noise, and chaos. I was blissfully exhausted. But I lost sight of myself and my expectations and standards had to change. They were lowered from unattainable to realistic. The fog of mommy magic was lifted.

Girl number two would gladly subsist on chicken nuggets and milk alone, every day, for the rest of her life. Most days I fight, barter, and beg her to eat something else, anything. I am her dancing monkey, if it will get her to eat healthier but some days I just say to hell with it and let her have the nuggets.

Many days she has left the house in her pajamas, her hair is seldom pulled back to perfection. She’s tasted Sprite and chewed a piece of bubblegum. I think she’s even been outside without sunscreen once or twice.

At the end of the day, both girls are loved unconditionally. They know this and they love having one another. They could care less if their hair is perfect or if they have every toy. I no longer suffer from second baby syndrome. I willingly embrace it.

Do you suffer from second baby syndrome? How do you deal with the guilt? How good is good enough and is there a prize for being the most devoted mom on the block?

Image via Deborah Cruz

baby development, baby first year, bonding, childcare, milestones, mom secrets, poop & diapers, siblings


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

onefo... onefootcutiepie Two babies is not that stupid....


I didn't experience this. My boys are 3 1/2 years apart and I'm a pretty even person and I loved it when they were little. I wish I could go back. Maybe girls are different. More dramatic or something. I'd feel sorry for someone who lived like this and I'd feel even sorrier for the children living with being screamed at all the time. Screaming at kids sometimes is worse than spanking because kids never forget what's been yelled at them. This post makes me feel sad. I don't think it's "second child syndrome." I think it's more the parent wasn't ready or shouldn't have had another child.

tiny_... tiny_mama

You think "second child syndrome" is difficult, you should give "5th child and 3 of the older ones have autism syndrome".... Don't sweat the small stuff. ;)

Kobolt Kobolt

Hahaha! My mam always said that about us! I think there's probably even a 'Third Child Syndrome'! :)

mompam mompam

I found my second child to be so much easier. Things I agonized over with my first were no big deal. I think the second child gets the better parents

Melis... Melissa1508

@Onefootcutiepie, speak for yourself.  If you have two or more babies and you do well with it, great.  Yea for you.  Some people don't handle it quite as well as others and don't deserve to be ridiculed for it.  Stop being so judgmental.

femal... femaleMIKE

Is it  possible that it would make you an even better mommy? 

nonmember avatar Em

I thought all babies were easy first was a dream baby. Then my second came, a colicky, screaming, reflux-y, impossible to soothe child. I realised that temperament plays a HUGE role in our per options of motherhood.

If you never went into "survival mode", when your babies were small well, good for you. But please don't judge others that have. Consider the possibility that *maybe* you're not a "better" mom, you just got less temperamental babies.

And survival mode can teach you to not sweat the small stuff, making you a better parent to BOTH.

nonmember avatar Mrs. Clark

I read this post and I was glad to know Im not the only one to feel this way sometimes. My first son was this sweet, smiling, bundle of joy. Yes, he would not sleep unless he was in the bed with us, but he ate his food, he smiled, he laughed, he was a complete mamas boy. My second son, I swear he hated me and still hates me to this day (he's now 2). Lol. He throws these huge tantrums, he won't eat, he just insists on finding something to be angry about all the time. Talk about terrible two's. I know he will grow out of it, so we will hang in until then!

nonmember avatar Susanne

Reminds me of that old saying about this:
If the first baby's pacifier falls on the ground, you sterilize it in boiling water.
When the second baby's pacifier falls on the ground, you rinse it under warm water.
When the third baby's pacifiers falls on the ground, you pull it out of the dog's mouth and stick it back in the kid's mouth.

1-10 of 37 comments 1234 Last