Thursday, January 29th, 2009...10:59 pm

Lessons Learned in Week 1 with Daughter #2, Part II

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Dear Daughter #2

photo figure credit: MITBeta

I already outlined a number of lessons learned since the recent birth of daughter #2, and I’d like to share a few more before I get back to more “hard core” personal finance topics.

Having been a parent for 2 years already, I thought I knew a lot about parenting.  I was right — I know a lot about how to take care of a newborn baby.  However, as it turns out I don’t know all that much about raising a 2 year old big sister.  So the next lesson that I would like to share is:

  • Big sister is harder work than the baby

Newborn babies are relatively easy to deal with.  They eat, they sleep, they poop, they burp, not necessarily in that order, but they do a lot of each.  When they cry it’s almost always because of one of those things.  You don’t have to convince them to do any of the above.  You don’t have to tell them why they are doing any of those things.  You don’t have to entertain them or worry that they’re pulling the dog’s tail.

Toddlers, on the other hand, are a different story.  I’ve had many people tell me that having 2 kids is more than double the work of one and that the older child is going to have jealousy issues with the younger one.  Boy, were those both understatements.  Actually, the two of them together haven’t been too bad in terms of work load (maybe ScrapperMom will disagree with me here…), but we totally underestimated how much jealousy there would be by big sister of little sister.

Even after getting Dear Daughter #1 excited about the imminent arrival of DD#2, it has still taken 3 weeks of daily convincing that having a little sister is a good thing.  #1 has had issues with: Mommy holding baby, baby sitting in “DD#1’s chair”, baby eating, baby going into the car seat, etc., etc.  We have finally worked through most of these issues, but in retrospect, I wish there was more we could have done to soften the blow to DD#1. I am very grateful for the thoughtful people who have brought gifts for baby AND big sister.  I would encourage those of you who might be about to have a second child to think long and hard about how it will affect your first child and try to take steps to avoid some of these issues, if that’s even possible.

Another lesson learned:

  • Overconfidence can be a problem

In Part I of this series, I detailed the case of the missing car seat bracket.  The full story is that I couldn’t remember how to put the seat in, and left it for the night before we needed to use it.  I’ve put that car seat in several times, and figured it would be easy, but it’s been over a year since the last time and I was a bit rusty.  This meant that it took me far longer to put in (even once I found the missing bracket) than I expected.

Another example is that when I went to give DD#2 her first bath it didn’t even occur to me that this could be difficult.  I got out the infant bathtub, checked that the sprayer worked, filled the reservoir with warm water, stripped baby girl naked, and then listened to her wail for 5 minutes (it seemed like 20).  I had forgotten that newborns generally can be bathed with just a cloth, and that until their cords fall off, that area should be kept dry.  For the next couple of days I was paranoid that I might have caused an infection at the cord base. To top it all off, when the bath was done we couldn’t even come up with an infant sized towel to wrap her in and wound up using receiving blankets instead. The second bath went a lot more smoothly.

The last lesson that I’ll share in this series is:

  • Don’t overdo it

On the 4th day of DD#2’s life, we completed the following marathon: went for a short visit to ScrappeMom’s cousin who lives almost across the street from the pediatrician’s office, took the girls to see the pediatrician, went to Grammy’s house, went to a wake, went out to dinner, back to Grammy’s to collect DD#1, and then back home.  This was too much to do, even though we weren’t exhausted when we got home.  We had a couple of other days like this, but not as bad, since the arrival of DD#2, but we have finally figured out how to take it a little easier.

I hope these lessons are of value to some reader out there, even if only for the comic value in our follies.  This weekend I will get back to the personal finance talk and to answering some outstanding questions posed by readers.  As always, we’d like to hear your feedback and you can leave your Comments below.


  • Great post… very honest, I like that.

    God, I hate to tell you this, but when DD1 turns 3, you are so in for it. And when they are old enough to argue… that is the WORST time!

    I don’t know who these people are that are saying that you have no idea what’s it’s like when you have a newborn!!! HA!!!! Newborns are SO easy!!!! Come on… the first WHOLE week all the do is sleep!!!! I think it’s so funny when new moms (of only about a week) say that they have the best baby… the baby sleeps for 6 hours at a time… ha!!! That’s what they’re used to in the womb! After about a week, they’ve got this life down!

  • […] Lessons Learned in Week 1 with Daughter #2, Part II @ Don’t Feed the Alligators – Great article, but even better picture. She is beautiful. […]

  • 🙂 Reading this brought back a few memories for me, so thank you. I had these same issues when my 2nd daughter was born. If I’d known then what I found out when the 3rd was born, I would have had an entirely different experience!

    When my youngest was born, her older sisters (2 and 4) decided that she was “their” baby. You’d be amazed at how much different the older daughter will be if you use the words “our” baby instead of “the baby” or calling DD#2 by her given name. The jealousy goes away (mostly) once they start viewing the baby as a part of the whole instead of competition for attention.

  • Momma: We have been called DD#1’s dolls “baby” for some time. So when DD#2 came along we made it a point to call her by her name instead of saying “the baby” as you suggest. I think this has helped somewhat. As you say, we have been trying to get DD#1 to understand that having a little sister is a good thing and not a bad one, and that there’s still plenty of love to go around.

    Michelle: Right on.