There’s something very special about first babies and as parents we tend to over-achieve with our vigilant devotion to the first-born’s every need. Then you have a second child, the reality of parenting sets in and things start to slide a little.
If you do get to three, the third child is lucky to even get a name because you used up all your favourite names on the first two.
Here are some other first baby versus third baby truths.
First pair of shoes:
1st baby: get Baby properly fitted in one of those fancy shoe shops where he sits on a cute step with a bunny mural backdrop. Get baby to walk around shop making sure his instep is correct and there’s room for his precious growing feet and take photo of momentous occasion.
(Epilogue: Take Baby for a walk in stroller the following week, whereupon Baby pulls off left shoe and throws it away somewhere in the dairy aisle of the supermarket.)
3rd baby: Owing to the above, don’t bother with shoes at all. At best it’s a pair of foam and velcro backpacker-style sandals from Payless Shoes, but only if the “two for one” deal is on.
Putting baby to bed:
1st baby: Daytime naps are carefully incorporated into the day’s schedule to ensure that Baby always sleeps in the cot. Bedtime is made up of elaborate rituals beginning with a soothing night time bath followed by a calming lavender oil massage. Once baby is in bed, everyone tip-toes around the house and speaks in whispers. You and your husband consider getting two sets of wireless headphones so that you can still hear the television without disturbing the baby.
3rd baby: Daytime naps happen wherever they happen: in the car, in the stroller and sitting up in the supermarket trolley. At bedtime, Baby dozes off in the bouncinette in the corner of the living room while everyone is watching My Kitchen Rules.
1st baby: cute matching outfits that are clean with no spots on them. Chuck out anything with stains and keep all matching outfits in a concurrent wash cycle so as to be always available for co-ordination at any time. Blue for boys and pink for girls.
3rd baby: anything that fits plus some stuff that doesn’t whatever colour is clean including My Little Pony hand-me-downs even though Baby is a boy. #GenderSchmender
1st baby: Gymbaroo, karate, ballet and a specially programmed educational Montessori playgroup.
3rd baby: being dragged around to older siblings’ sports training and ballet class qualifies as educational activities. He’ll learn by observation and osmosis.
1st baby: playdates are painstakingly arranged with age appropriate playmates. They are regularly scheduled into the week’s activities and appropriate catering is a major consideration.
3rd baby: a day with siblings qualifies as a playdate, in fact, sitting in a bouncinette in the corner watching older siblings play is entertainment enough.
1st baby: gender and age appropriate Lamaze toys, Fisher Price ‘learn to spell’ laptop, Sophie the Giraffe and anything else that is deemed a must-have toy.
3rd baby: car keys, the TV remote, an old Nokia phone and the severed head and neck of older sister’s Sophie the Giraffe teething toy.
1st baby: homemade mashed vegetables and rice cereal at precisely the right recommended age.
3rd baby: exclusively breastfed for as long as possible because it’s just easier. Along with whatever scraps they want from your own and siblings’ plates, whenever they are old enough to reach for them.
1st Baby: introduce eggs and nuts at the right recommended age in a controlled environment with the car keys ready to dash to the hospital in case the beginnings of an allergic reaction begins.
3rd baby: more of an ad hoc, “wait and see” strategy.
1st baby: if the dummy falls out of mouth and into the stroller seat, quickly replace it with a fresh one. If it falls on the floor, take it home and sterilise it for 30 minutes in Milton solution.
3rd baby: if the dummy falls out of the mouth and into the stroller seat and Baby can reach it and put it back in his mouth, so be it. If the dummy falls on the floor, pick it up, suck it in your own mouth and give it back to him.
Leaving Baby with babysitters:
1st baby: leave pages of detailed instructions so that Baby’s routine is not disrupted by someone else’s methods. Call three times from the restaurant to make sure Baby is not unsettled. Come home early because you just can’t relax and enjoy yourself.
3rd baby: say goodbye, walk out the door. Stay out so late the babysitter has to call you to ask if you’re ever coming back.
Wiping dirty faces and hands:
1st baby: use expensive, paediatrician-approved antibacterial baby wipes to wipe baby’s face and hands. Vigilantly wipe hands and face all day, to avoid germs and bacteria.
3rd baby: spit and tissue, with the tissue being one you found in the bottom of your handbag. Wipe face and hands once a day; before leaving the house. Bath time will take care of the rest.
First birthday party:
1st baby: invite everyone you know, serve champagne and canapés for adults and make everyone stand around Baby and sing, “Happy Birthday” while baby stares, dumbfounded at all the stranger’s faces singing “at” him. Create three-tiered, Pinterest-worthy first birthday cake that is egg-free and nut-free (just in case) and take umpteen photos of every significant moment including Baby’s first taste of birthday cake.
3rd baby: cupcake with a candle after dinner. Eldest child does cross-eyed faces every time you try to take a documenting photo, middle child steals the cupcake and eats it, Baby cries and everyone gets sent to bed early.
Realise a week later when taking Baby for 12 month vaccinations that you celebrated on the wrong day.