Major ways I’m raising our second child differently to our first

7 April, 2015

We stayed up late the other night watching little videos we’d taken of our first daughter, Ramona, a few years ago. They were hidden deep in the caverns of our computer, buried under about 9 googleplex (the children’s current favourite number) of photos. We have so many photos that if we were to print them out I think we’d be able to stretch them to the moon and back, or we’d at least be able to bundle them into bricks and build ourselves a house.

Anyway, the films. Oh! How they made me BLUSH! I was absolutely criiiinging. It was so, SO obvious, in a way I hadn’t really processed, just how differently we are doing things with our second daughter, Juno. (There were also lots of really lovely ones – like this perfect example of that phantom breastfeeding thing babies do – once your nipple has left their mouth, they keep sucking. It is one of the loveliest things to look at in the world!)

I was trussing her about, waving her around, smooching her enormous cheeks, making her wave, making her stand, sitting her on my knee for Humpty Dumpty even though she was crying. I was having fun with her, almost like she was a prop or accessory to my–life-and-soul-of-the-party good time. And I wasn’t really treating her like a human at all.

It made me think of all the ways we have changed our parenting since having a second daughter. And the common theme to all of them is that we came to realise that even the tiniest babies are people – with unique feelings and important rights, with their own body to be respected and their own drive to be allowed to flourish.

It is so basic, but it took me such a long time to realise. I was a loving mum to Ramona, I ticked all the right attachment parenting boxes, but it wasn’t until she really showed me her bare face will, age 2, that I understood that she had had one all along. It was Ramona that paved the way for me to see Juno in the way that I did the second she was born. Juno turned up and her beautiful and glorious personhood was glowing out of her newborn folds of furry skin and baldness. I'm raising our second child differently to the first

Here are some examples of how differently this actually looks:

1- With Ramona we sat her up almost from the day she could hold her head up, we propped her and put her on her tummy and stood her on her big, rugby-player pins. Then I read about natural motor development and something clicked, so with Juno we tried to only ever put her in a position that she was able to get into by herself. So no tummy time, until she could roll, no sitting until she could pull herself to sitting. WHAT AN AMAZING JOURNEY!

The difference is that when they choose to do something, they are absolutely and utterly ready for it. It often means a different way round – crawling before sitting, for example- but they totally nail it. Juno crawled first and then sat a few days later and never, ever, ever tipped over.

This just fits in SO perfectly with the idea that children very often know what they are ready for, that they can be the lead on their own development and learning. It is awesome.

2- With Ramona I had quite strong senses of what she should and shouldn’t play with, where she should go, what she should be doing. Age six months for example, I had no worries about taking something straight out of her hands with no warning, or distracting her from something she was enjoying just so I could admire her cute face, or pulling her out of the way of something I didn’t want her going near. With Juno we hang back A LOT more. If we do need to take something away from her, mostly we simply ask for it, and she has tended to hand it over… but by and large we’ve just been able to let her go for it, and to REALLY let her get into it.

3- With Ramona, we had very little respect for the idea that her body was her own, we were convinced we were in charge of her body. We’d pick her up and plop her down and put a jumper on her and take a hat off her and wipe her nose and yank a nappy on. We have tried really hard to not do this with Juno. If ever we want to interact with Juno’s body, we ask permission first, even waiting for an invitation as a very small baby- such as the lift of a pelvis to change a nappy (Juno fully did this!) or extended, open arms from a 6 month old when we ask if we can pick her up.

4- We found Elimination Communication when Ramona was 3 months old and within a few days we saw it to be the way forward. With Juno it began on her very first day, when she was wriggling and distressed and Tim offered her the potty and she pooed and weed straight into it! Brilliant! However, with Juno we tried a lot harder to respect the fact that her body was her body, not insisting on her going if we felt she needed it (with Ramona we were like “C’mon, love, we can SEE you need to go!”) and we tried really hard not to interrupt bowl movements once they had begun, out of respect. We had no qualms about moving Ramona about mid-poo, to get her on the loo.I'm raising my second child differently to my first

I was introduced to a lot of this via Pennie Brownlee and Clare of the Pikler Collection – through the concept of Natural Gross Motor Development. It sounds a bit technical, but ooh look here is a simple introduction to exactly WHAT that is!!! *brand new vlog alert*

I was speaking to someone about all of this and they were like “WHAT! HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW ALL OF THIS STUFF?! EVERY ONE IN THE WORLD KNOWS THIS!” And I was kinda like… well… we can’t know everything, all at once! I really didn’t know many people doing this in London. All the connecting, attachment stuff just blossomed naturally but the standing back and giving full respect to babies didn’t happen instinctively or me at all.

We can only parent with the knowledge we have to hand right now, don’t you think?

Of course, parenting IS the most world-changing job ever so therefore we should take it seriously and take our open minds and find stuff out and make conscious decisions.

But still, even the President of the Post-Graduate School of Parenting doesn’t know every one of the good and beautiful ways we can be with our children at the exact perfect time.

C.S Lewis, in the final Narnia book, says that we can only act according to the light revealed to us.

I love it, I love it for life and I love it for parenting. You can’t believe that and have many regrets, or have much judgment.

Have you changed your parenting much, from one child to another?

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  • ThaliaKR 7 April, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Lovely insights, and thank you for bravely sharing them.

    Go CS Lewis – amen and amen. One of the hardest things about being a conscious, learning parent, is constantly discovering things you wish you’d done differently. We need to be kind and forgiving to ourselves and each other, yeah?

    You’re doing a MARVELLOUS job of mothering both of those lovelies.

    • Lucy 7 April, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      Yep, kind. Brave and forgiving!

  • Haley 7 April, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    This is so interesting! My daughter is 11 months old and I wish wish wish I’d ‘known’ about this sooner – it is something which has been on the periphery of my conscious since she was born i.e we go out and buy a bumbo seat and I think “hmm I’m not sure about that seat, seems weird to see such a little baby sat like that when she’s only just strong enough to hold her head, but it’ll save me getting the sling out while I make a cup of tea.”
    We go out and buy a jumperoo and I think – “hmm I think I preferred it when I was wearing her and chatting with her while I sorted the washing… But she probably enjoys the jumperoo more, and think of the strong legs she will have for early walking ;-)”

    We have tried to have a hands off approach as much as possible with regards to letting her explore, and I particularly am proud of the fact that she is completely autonomous when it comes to what/when/how much she eats with no cajoling from us but natural gross motor development is new to me and is certainly something that I’m going to read more about and keep in mind when we are lucky enough to have a second child. Every day is a learning day!

    You’re an inspiration Lucy!

    • Lucy 7 April, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Yeah, Same here 🙂 I used to love the bumbo! 11 months though- it can still happen for you guys right now!
      Got to love those instincts trying to pipe up “Er, SCuse me?!” Hehehe.
      And be kind to yourself too 🙂 x x

  • Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork 7 April, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Very insightful Lucy, thank you for sharing. I’ve only got one kiddo still, but I imagine that I would stand back much more with a second child than I did with my first too. Especially during the first year when so many of the leaps they make are physical and very visible. I was just so damn excited! Excited about the prospect of him being able to enjoy grabbing things, tasting food, tottering off on his own. I didn’t realise that there really was no hurry at all. Quite the contrary, even – now it seems to me he’s growing up at break-neck speed and even though he’s still only 2 I find myself wishing I’d just let the baby days be baby days for a bit longer!
    Still, the important thing is that we’ve come to that realisation and we can change our ways accordingly. It’s all an enormous and often turbulent journey so the idea that we can’t possibly know everything about how to navigate it is absolutely true.

  • Cat 7 April, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I remember an amazing attachment parenting friend who had her first at the same time as me and when we were both due with the second she said to me “I dont think I’ll change anything for the second one” I remember thinking god she must have got it perfect the first time wish I was like that. But I agree with what you were saying about only parenting with the knowledge we have to hand right now. I gained so much knowledge through things like Playcentre that I changed so much the second time! I also learned to trust my intuition way more the second time – which ment alot of things were done differently! Thankyou Lucy!

  • Anemone 8 April, 2015 at 12:29 am

    I think there is often an instinct to be overly…involved? Forceful? Interactive? with a first child. I don’t know what word captivates it, but I mean that people often take a step back with second and subsequent children in a way they don’t with the eldest. Sometimes because they’re a little more busy, or a little more relaxed, or a little more knowledgable and open to the differing personalities and approaches.

    I’ve always been bothered when people have names set out in their minds that they will call their children. I think you have to see them when they’re born and find out what fits. The natural motor development seems like the physical continuation of that idea. Definitely food for thought!

    • Lisi 10 April, 2015 at 2:49 am

      Having studied developmental and child psychology and specialising ( for a time) in the affects of parenting in early infancy development, I’d say that there is a lot to be said for both forms of parenting.
      The ‘anti’ attachment parent thoughts are to do with a more proactive way of assuring children meet their potential. This maybe by ‘encouraging’ children to walk, speak, learn at a faster pace than they may have if left to their own natural speed of development. These children have shown to reach a higher level of achievement later in life ( so studies show)
      Then the opposite argument is to allow children to develop at their own pace, these children are shown to have lower cortisol levels, thus being less stressed. They do not show to have any affects further in infantcy. All milestones are met as long as there are no levels of neglect, it takes a very observant parent to be able to pick every cue a child gives to be able to ensure all needs are met without ‘guessing’.

  • Anna Hughes 8 April, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Hi Lucy

    Yep, yep, yep to all you said. I know you are a babywearer so I’m wondering how you feel that fits with Natural Gross Motor Development?
    I wore my babies too and also didn’t prop them up. Eli crawled before he sat and sat his bum between his feet as he worked out that was really stable. They didn’t have tummy time either and were rolling, crawling in no time.
    Some people use the Natural Gross Motor Development from Magdar Gerber or Emmi Pilker as a reason NOT to babywear as it restricts the baby’s movement. I believe that so long as you’re not forcing your baby into a carrier babywearing is necessary when they have no or little movement themselves and of course the attachment benefits sooo out weight any movement restriction you may cause. I think that it’s just a skewed interpretation of the theory of Natural Gross Motor Development, but haven’t looked into the detail. Have you? I can’t imagine Gerber or Pilker not wanting people to use baby carriers!
    Thanks Lucy.

    🙂 Anna

    • Lucy 8 April, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      I also, shhhh, about this bit though, have a feeling that a parenting philosophy developed in a post war orphanage, where adults are one to seven children, needs to be looked at quite critically!

      For example, a lot of natural parenting would be untenable in that situation, so there is so,e sort of dissonance that naturally occurs there. Imo!

    • Anemone 8 April, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      I actually wondered about that… I have not researched this yet at all since my kids are still in my imagination rather than the world, but babywearing still sounds like moving them without their permission or assistance which seems opposite the goals of autonomy or natural gross motor development. Conundrums!

  • Angela Milnes 8 April, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Great Post. I’m a kiwi living in the UK 🙂 I’m not well enough to have a second child, so can’t compare one to the other. I’ve often thought about how I would do things differently if I had another child and this has lead me to a kind of parenting overhaul. Rather than focus on what I’d do if I could start over, I’m now concentrating on evolving and adapting to give my daughter the best parenting I can. I’ve gone from feeling guilty to feeling like a wonderful Mum and all because I’m now doing what I feel is best and not looking at what i can do, rather than what i didn’t or can’t. It’s really liberating. Angela xx My recent post is

  • Sue Taylor 10 April, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Very interesting! I have felt this way of parenting for a long time. I am a mother to 7 through natural and adoption. I’ve always felt that there is too much push and fret and hurry to “develop” super babies and children. I started homeschooling years ago because of that, in the U.S. it’s insane what they try to push kids through. Younger and younger too! My oldest is now 25 and my youngest miracle baby “that I bore at 43” Is now 3 yrs old and I am completely so on board with this style! But one thing that I also had to respect is her blatant and intense dislike of baby wearing. Once she was 6 months she just hated it and I read blog after blog and many discussions where parents would say “oh just keep putting her in, eventually she will give in and learn to love it.” Nothing could be more wrong. She is who she is, she likes her independence and loved/loves her stroller! I knew I needed to respect that. No matter how bad I wanted to wear my baby, she just was not into being an accessory. She loved being able to view the world from her stroller and fall asleep laying flat and get in and out at will when she was older (so far as was reasonably safe). She is also very much like me where we have a total aversion to being strapped down, or in or tightly. A bit claustrophobic. And also having mild sensory issues like uncomfortable seems in clothing driving us mad. So I completely understood her body language of struggle to get out of the baby carrier. No matter who comfortable I thought it would be for her, she felt differently. I have heard so many disparaging remarks from well meaning attachment parenting fans that in the end just seem very controlling and judgmental, not just of their babies but of society. Shaming others who don’t wear. I also couldn’t wear her very long when she was over 8 months because of health issues that cause my muscles to hurt, so it turns out it was a nice break for me that she loved her stroller. So I’m glad you are speaking up and sharing about upsetting little ones autonomy. Anyway, just found your blog and very much like it. I stumbled onto it from a friends no pooing FB post! I’m hooked! Keep up the good work of being honest.
    P.S. I too love that C.S. Lewis quote! He was a very inspired and wise man.
    Best, Sue

    • ali 12 April, 2015 at 7:36 am

      Ah! Yes! Thats so interesting. I can relate to that!
      My daughter hated babywearing with a passion, I kept hoping she’s get into it as everyone around us was saying how great it was. But she was having none of it. (It turns out she has sensory issueS. ) My son LOVES babywearing. I do believe I’ll still have my ergo strapped to me when he’s 19.
      Every child is different and I guess as a parent our job is to take that onboard and meet their needs, not our desires!

      • Lucy 13 April, 2015 at 10:18 am

        How great that you listened to your daughter but I’m sad that you felt that judgement from other mums. Such a shame 🙁

  • Sue Taylor 10 April, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Wow, spellcheck really wasn’t helpful today! I was saying I’m so glad you are speaking up and sharing about “respecting” NOT upsetting little one’s autonomy. Big difference!

  • Cathy 10 April, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Yes to all of this, Violet has had a completely different childhood journey to her older sister. I am still tortured with regret over some of the things I did with Cherry out of nothing but good intentions, my fear of ‘not letting her get into bad habits’ really haunts me and how I wish I’d known what I know now, back then.

    I find it hard to let go of that regret to be honest, I was a loving mother to Cherry but I wasn’t present, focused, connected, I had no faith in her and by extension myself as a mother, and I rarely if ever saw things from her point of view.

    The poor child was also burdened with the weight of my expectations, the pressure of my desire to prove myself through my child and my frustration when she insisted upon being herself from the day she was born and refused to allow me to mould and shape her into a tiny glowing testimony to me, myself and I.

    Thankfully that changed and as I really identify when you say Ramona paved the way for you seeing Juno as herself – Cherry definitely paved the way for Violet’s much freer babyhood. I have learned more from my three-year-old than any teacher I have ever had! I will never stop being grateful to her for that.

  • Laura @ KneadWhine 13 April, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Some really interesting information here. I always come away from reading your blog posts with a different perspective.

    My seven month old is definitely parented differently than my four year old was. I don’t take her to quite so many things. She isn’t quite as overstimulated and I am generally less tense about the experience.

    My son is obsessed with googolplex.

  • Tract 16 April, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Hello! I have a question on #1.

    Don’t “they” say that tummy time and exercise is good for little ones? So even if they are in a position they couldn’t get into themselves, they have to work and learn to move into other positions? And that’s how they learn to crawl and roll?

    Just wanted to understand a little better what you are referring to. 🙂

    • Lucy 17 April, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Yes “they” do say that, and it isn’t correct! If allowed to do it naturally, when the child is ready their whole body will be ready for the transition.

  • Ratna 31 May, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Thanks Lucy for introducing me to this, I also felt the attachment come naturally, and co-sleep/wear a sling as transport, but wonder how this fits in practically/emotionally? Do you leave your baby on the floor to play by themselves a lot? Does this then impact on the play interaction you have with each other, as I have often put my 3.5month old on my knees (whilst telling him I am doing so) and then sing songs, pull faces, I like making him laugh?! Or am I meeting my desires by doing that, or putting him in a position he can;t get out of?! I got more confused reading the Magdar Gerber info and am wondering about the being left alone apart from attending to their needs?
    It makes sense, I would really appreciate it if you could share some more advice or have further insight into how these two approaches work together?
    Really enjoying your posts about living the dream, almost enough to leave Hackney : )

    • Lucy 1 June, 2015 at 11:39 am

      I think you are just connecting with him
      😀 It sounds lovely! I let them play on the floor while happy, but they also spend a lot of time in my arms. I also rarely left them alone, alone. In a room. Like, never. Don’t agree with a fair bit of the Gerber/ Pikler stuff too! (Ie, any parenting philosophy developed in a post war orphanage has to be taken with a pinch of salt imo) I have simply taken the bits that resonate with the idea of a baby as a real human, with rights and a will 😀

      • Ratna 2 June, 2015 at 10:14 pm

        Thanks Lucy! I guess it’s a question of balance (Mr Miagi did have all the answers) and respect. I
        just have one more question about the natural development, how does this tie in with baby led weaning, how do you help them to feed themselves them if they aren’t yet sitting, if they are following the natural path of rolling, crawling, then sitting? Did you go throught this with Juno? Thanks for all the advice, not many people in my area who are aware of this yet : )

        • Lucy 4 June, 2015 at 3:28 pm

          We followed through this idea- no food until they are sitting, and then waited until she was ready to sit… if you see what i mean….

  • Ratna 16 July, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Hi again, sorry for very delayed follow up, hope you still check your old posts anyway : )…with the natural development, did Juno crawl first before sitting unaided, did this delay when you started with BLW, seems like most people start around 6 month mark which is when babies seem to be propped up to eat rather than actually sitting unaided? Was Juno showing interest in food before she was able to sit?
    It ties in with what you have been bringing up in your child’s rights posts, it’s amazing to watch them learn and work it out, however hard to keep the faith when others think you’re holding them back/stopping them growing/making it more difficult for them to adapt to food etc etc (even though calories mainly from breastmilk in first year anyway….)….probably need to read your what to do in the face of people not liking your choices post again : ) Any advice would be great as don;t know anyone who has let their child develop this way…..