45 Parents Reveal What They Took Way Too Seriously With Their First Kid

45 Parents Reveal What They Took Way Too Seriously With Their First Kid

Experience is likely the best teacher when it comes to raising children. A 2021 study found that nearly a third of new parents admit they feel unprepared for their new duties. And changing the baby is far from their only worry. In addition to the basic day-to-day challenges, half of the first-time parents (51%) feel the pressure of social shaming, mainly coming from social media.

There is also the constant flow of must-have baby products, parenting trends, and other sources for ideas of what your baby might need. When parents don’t have personal experience, they might rely on the word of others, whether it’s a book, a friend, or a very persuasive ad. Raising their second, third, or other children might help them distinguish the essentials easier.

Here at Bored Panda, we have gathered some firsthand accounts from parents comparing their life with the firstborn vs. life with the following children. These examples show that, in most cases, experience is key in finding the subjectively best way to raise them.

#1

I realized that a lot of what makes babies expensive is not actually necessary. I had the whole shebang of everything everyone said I needed, I followed the list given by my doctor at my initial appointment, I made the registry, I had the nursery.

I used maybe 15% of the stuff. The necessary items *you* need will vary depending on the baby and season. Babies need a whole lot less to survive than people are told they need. Just like crazy commercialized holidays like Valentines Day, infants are monetized by baby "necessities" companies.

I also learned that there is no such thing as a spoiled infant. They are not tricking you. I was incessantly told that my child was "using" me and "tricking" me by older women in my family as well as medical professionals. Babies don't learn manipulation for personal gain until about 9mos old, and even then the manipulation end game is usually for an extra snack or being held.

Image credits: AmbiguousFrijoles

#2

Other people’s opinions about my parenting.

With my first, I was so worried about being judged for my choices, and I definitely was. I was either ridiculed for my goal of birth without an epidural (which I pulled off), pressured to breastfeed (but not where anyone could see me!), shamed for not getting my son circumcised, mocked for trying cloth diapers and deciding they weren’t for me. A lot of this came from my family, my grandmother in particular.

With my second, I felt more confident. I knew my choices were my own. I’d learned the nasty truth, that as a woman and a mother I am always damned if I do and damned if I don’t. There will always be someone with an opinion.

Image credits: mamabug27

#3

A lot of things tbh.

I was much more relaxed with the second mainly because I had way more experience. But starting solids was probably the one I will say. We did baby-led weaning with the second.

The first one was on this super strict schedule of purées and the second was just whelp here is some really soft food. I was too tired fighting with the first kid over what he’d eat to deal with the same rigorous feeding schedule.

First one was super picky the second ate whatever you put in front of him.

Image credits: celica18l

#4

Shoes, matching outfits, crafting a feeding schedule, creating a napping schedule, quiet when the baby is napping, not going out during nap windows, definitely the cast food one.

Honestly just parenting in general...

I'm on baby 4 and I have nursed while baby wearing, worn 2 babies simultaneously, gone camping with a 2 month old for 2 weeks, nursed IN the ocean, given whole fruit to a young toddler to eat, let a 1 year old wander around by themself in a playground for 3 hours(I was watching the whole time),

My third and fourth are the happiest, most paid back, most confident kids I've ever met. I wish I had known better right off the bat because I think my helicoptering really held my older two back developmentally.

Image credits: katlyzt

#5

Not every picture needs to be a curated, edited, Instagrammable post. Some of the best pictures I’ve taken weren’t posed, they were candid or completely off the cuff cute moments and a lot I’ve never posted anywhere because they don’t need to be seen and ‘liked’ to be enjoyed.

I used to worry about getting the monthly posed milestone photo and it looking just right. With my second I haven’t done any milestone photos, I just make sure to capture cute moments I’d like to remember like her being worn by dad while he’s cooking, or her laughing while her brother is making faces at her, or her looking up smiling while I’m holding her.

Image credits: drculpepper

#6

Over focusing on intelligence and being smart. My son is very smart. But I didn’t focus enough on other things like kindness, empathy, etc. I caught it early enough to change course but he’s still a bit of an arrogant smart kid.

Image credits: the-one217

#7

Caring about milestones. I was so hyper focused on when my first would learn to smile, sit, crawl, walk, be potty trained etc. looking back I have no idea why. Looking at a group of 5 year olds, no one gives a s**t who the first one was to walk.

Image credits: purple--pig

#8

I was SOOOO uptight with my first kid, and I really chilled out for my second one. It's just way easier that way hah. I still try to stick to a schedule, feed healthy food, etc but I'm just a little more lax when needed and it's benefited everyone, I think. I also now understand that a baby crying is not the end of the world (it was when I had my first kid, but I also had horrible postpartum anxiety and struggled a lot in general). Either way, 2 is enough!!!

Image credits: thehotsister

#9

Everything, basically. I feel so sad that my first born did not have my best to give. My best isn't even that great, but now i have 3 with my youngest turning 2 next month, and I wish I could go back and change so much for my firstborn and myself. I was so stressed and depressed.

Image credits: PurplishPlatypus

#10

Screen time allowance changed a lot—somewhere between baby #1 and baby #3 I stopped feeling guilty for letting my kids watch TV or play video games. Unrelated, but also swears. I’m more laid back (read: exhausted) on actively developing their vocabulary. An example: Child #1 at age 5–“mom this salmon is delectable” Child #2 at age 5–“mom this is tasty soup” Child #3 at age 5–“mom this damn toast is pretty damn good” To be honest, the youngest is no less precocious, she’s just more uninhibited

Image credits: anon

#11

Depends I was very old fashion with both kids not having them out and about early. I did allow folks to come visit. Wash your hands, sanitizer and use this cloth. I tried breastfeed my 1st. Support system wasn't there. In the African American community (between 60s-early 2000s) here in the USA formula was pushed more so than breast milk. This doesn't include Caribbean or African born families.

Hospital were just starting to promote breast is best. Health insurance was struggling to meet electronic pump demand. I couldn't afford one. I was WSM and the father wasn't there. I tried for 2 weeks. It was a struggle and I couldn't keep up.

I did breastfeed with my 2nd. Situations and circumstances were different in my life with both kids. That played a part in what I did how I cared for them. Support system, employment, health insurance, relationship with father, living in a different state, etc.

Image credits: girialgi_7178

#12

Omg, almost everything.

From bedtimes to mealtimes.

I was stricter about my oldest finishing his dinner, my had a bit more flexibility but I wanted a good effort, and my youngest just tells me she’s done and wants to leave the table and I’m just like “ya, go ahead”

My oldest had set bedtimes, my middle has bedtimes but they’re flexible in that I’ll allow her 15 mins after bedtime to read a book, and my youngest goes to bed when she says she’s tired (she’s also only a toddler and usually says she’s tired at a reasonable time).

My aunt and uncle, who practically raised me told me “kids need your love and support, that’s all. You can make whatever decisions you want but they’ll always be who they’re meant to be. That’s why every parent can parent different and raise perfectly healthy kids so long as they have love and support”

Image credits: dNi005

#13

First kid drops their pacifier, they got a totally new one and the dropped one gets sterilized.

Second kid drops their pacifier, it gets rinsed off and handed back.

Third kid drops their pacifier, I pick it up stick it in my own mouth to clean it off, hand it back.

Fourth kid drops their pacifier, picks it back up and puts it in their own mouth. Also finds some old french fries while they're down there. Good, I don't have to make a snack.

Image credits: _Internet_Hugs_

#14

Myself. I was really stressed about how much my life was changing and whether I was making the right choices for my baby. With my second I able to roll with the changes more easily and didn't worry that diaper rash was actually bubonic plague or something.

Image credits: GivenToFly164

#15

I have 3. The second two are twins. They’ve just turned a year, and I’m weaning in September. With my eldest, I’d still be breastfeeding him if my ob didn’t make me stop around wk20 of pregnancy with the twins.

I do not sit and entertain my kids like I did with my eldest. I would sit for hours and play with him. No tv, just some background music. Pandemic + infants = a lot more tv than I planned. They do lots of independent play. And cry a whole bunch more than my eldest ever did.

Things I’m still particular about: getting enough water/milk and sunscreen or keeping out of the sun.

Image credits: fgn15

#16

I don’t think that I could ever be described as chill but I was less inclined towards obsessiveness and doing everything exactly right with my second.

I nursed both kids but had trouble with milk supply particularly for the first. I almost killed myself pumping every 45 minutes after nursing for months on end and I could never get the supply where it needed. For my second, I wanted to nurse but wasn’t willing to go to extreme lengths to make it happen, particularly because I also had a toddler to care for. So I nursed and supplemented with formula when needed and pumped when I could but not religiously. Still had milk supply issues but way less and the kid ending up nursing way longer than my first.

Everything was kind of like that. I am a huge believer in routine and naps for young children, but I was more flexible. With my second, he needed a morning and an afternoon nap, while the toddler needed a nap in between. If we stayed home for all those naps, we would have never left the house. So second child got his second nap at the zoo or library or in the grocery store strapped to my chest or in his stroller.

Both kids are amazing, kind, creative, good readers and healthy eaters so I doubt it matters too much as long as they are in a loving home.

Image credits: Automatic_Bookkeeper

#17

I don’t think it’s representative of their general upbringing, but two incidents with blood come to mind.

My firstborn was one when he got a little cut on his finger from a rough edge of our HVAC’s air vent. There were maybe three drops of blood. I was freaking out, and even called a relative who talked me down from taking the baby to urgent care. The whole ‘incident’ took place in a span of about 5 minutes. My heart rate had to have hit 200bpm.

Second kid, made of rubber, loved being outside as much as possible. She was about six when I heard her come in the front door, and I walked into our hall to find a trail of bloody footprints leading to the bathroom. She was cleaning up her knee that she had scraped and then ignored became she wanted to keep riding bikes. It wasn’t that bad once we cleaned it up, but the bending and activity had turned it into a gusher. I said, “Why didn’t you at least ask me for help cleaning it up when you noticed? That’s a lot of blood!” Well her jerk brother had assured her that she’d be tortured with peroxide (which was the wisdom of the time) and made to sit still for an hour. We skipped the peroxide. No panic, just appropriate monitoring at normal intervals. Poor thing did have to keep her knee still until it stopped soaking bandages though. I’m so mean.

Image credits: Fumquat

#18

Mother of 3 adult children. I followed the pediatrician guidelines with food introduction to the day- yes I seriously kept a calendar to track baby food for my first child. My second child ate from the table with no real plan. My third child ate pizza from the takeout box way earlier than I care to admit. I once put Mountain Dew in his bottle when stuck in road construction.
The difference was massive in our household. It makes me laugh in a sorta cringe way. Looking back my middle child had the most consistent parenting.

Image credits: chicaberry

#19

Sleep training.

With the first one we put up with hours of screaming night after night while attempting to sleep train (not continuous hours; I am not trying to imply I left the baby crying alone for hours). Then we tried the thing where you get them to go to sleep with you sitting by the crib, and then gradually move farther and farther away. Except it was just night after night of me sitting by the crib or patting his back while he screamed.

We would make a tiny bit of progress but then he would get sick, or we'd go to grandma's house for the night, and we'd lose it again. Eventually we were still struggling with it when he realized he could climb out of the crib. So that was the end of that, and I wound up sitting next to his big boy bed every night holding his hand while he fell asleep until finally I figured out I could bribe him with extra video game time to go to bed on his own.

With the second one it was like, well we can't have her keeping the older kid up to all hours, and also that was f*****g hard and pointless, soooo we walked her to sleep every night and put her in bed already asleep. Still a commitment but much less stressful for everyone involved.

Image credits: lurkmode_off

#20

First one...documented, baby book, nearly complete despite colic. Milestones tracked. Thousands of pictures. Portrait, professional photogs, pics sent to family.

Second kid...got a baby book. Maybe filled a little out. Lots of pics of the two of them. A few professional but usually through school, and some share with family.

Third kid... No baby book. School pics. Digitals sent to family ... Maybe.

Image credits: itsmyvoice

#21

Swears and vocabulary. I'm more laid back (read: exhausted) on actively developing their vocabulary. An example: At age five, Child No. 1 would say, 'Mom, this salmon is delectable,' Child No. 2 would say, 'Mom, this is tasty soup,' and Child No. 3 would say, 'Mom, this damn toast is pretty damn good.' To be honest, the youngest is no less precocious, she's just more uninhibited.

#22

Almost everything, but one that really sticks out in my mind is potty training.

I was SO WORRIED about my oldest being in diapers “too long.” With my second, it was like “meh, it’s not like he’s going to go away to college in diapers. We’ll get there when we get there.” If anyone had an issue with him being in diapers (looking at you MIL), that was on them. They weren’t the one fighting with a toddler that was TERRIFIED to poop on the toilet. Like most things, kids just randomly outgrow their strange fears. One day, he wanted nothing to do with it. The next, “I’m going poop on the potty!”

#23

I returned to work after one year for my first, way earlier for my second. This was also for practical reasons, not because I took care less of him of course. We used to buy more bio products for the first, the second just followed our food program earlier. But to be fair, I breastfed the second much longer, he was a huge fan of me!!! :)

#24

No screens for the first one till 2.5 years old, second was looking at my phone/TV much earlier.

Both kids love reading books, so I’m glad I waited to introduce TV, screens to my first one as the second one follows the lead and likes to read books in his spare time as well.

Image credits: algebragoddess

#25

The mom guilt. Which is something is a term i heard all the time but I didn’t really understand because I never felt outright guilty about anything. With my first I was so high strung (difficult birth, medical issues, feeding issues and he NEVER slept). He wasn’t latching? I just wasn’t trying hard enough. He didn’t go to sleep, even after 2 hours of nursing? I just hadn’t given him what he needed yet. If I just carry him around the room for an hour he’ll go to sleep. With my second I didn’t have time to spend three hours putting him to bed every night, or an hour to try to latch him at every feeding. If it didn’t work, then we moved on with the day. Guess which kid turned out to be a perfectionist like his mom!

#26

My attitude about breastfeeding. I bought into the propaganda that breastmilk is liquid gold, so why would anyone ever do formula? Breastfeeding with my first went awful. Before my milk came in, she was fussing and cluster feeding and therefore the first few days of her life were absolutely miserable. Painful for a long time. I didn’t produce enough. (Looking back, this was my fault because of some behaviors.) I finally had to start supplementing with formula when she was 6 months old, and honestly it was so freeing! She was happier and so was I. Baby #2, I had a lot of strategies to improve the experience and my supply, and they worked. But I also decided from the beginning that I was going to feed my baby whenever she was acting hungry, and if at the time I was too stressed out or in pain or empty or anything, I’d give her formula. Ended up using formula for the first four-ish days of her life, which were much more relaxed and peaceful. Haven’t needed any since, but I have it and will use it if and when it is the right thing for us!


Also my attitude about breastfeeding in public. I was never judgmental about that at all, it is a normal and acceptable thing to do IMO. But with my first I was very conscientious about always wearing a blanket to cover up. With my second, I wear a cover at church and work but nowhere else! Restaurants, store, etc. I am just feeding my kid. A family member told me that “people, especially older men, did not sign up to see that when they are just doing their shopping.” Well, I didn’t sign up to be sweaty and deal with messing with a blanket every time my kid is hungry, plus I don’t exist to accommodate male fragility.

Otherwise, I was a pretty intentional parent with my first, did a lot of thinking about what is and isn’t important. Including things that I was going to be intentionally relaxed about. I have continued most things with my second.

#27

2 girls, 3 years apart. First kid lived in cute outfits, matching socks, bows, etc etc.

I'm pretty sure my 2nd baby lived in a diaper or the same onesie for days in a row.

Image credits: RimleRie

#28

I did so much more for my first one... he has been the slowest one to want to grow up. My middle one was probably the best balance.. My youngest one has had the 4 going on 16 attitude forever and wants to do everything himself without help.

As the oldest child I always hated that my mom showed total leniency to my bratty youngest brother. I do however hold my youngest one accountable though, because I remember how unfair it was. My husband is the youngest one and always tries to give our youngest one a pass, and is harder on the older two, it drives me nuts.

#29

EVERYTHING. My kids are only 19 months apart in age but the experience I earned in that 19 months of having the first made me SO much more ready for the second. It's particularly ironic to me because prior to being a mother I worked in daycare and as a nanny so I *was* already comfortable around babies.

When you have your first baby you're terrified the slightest thing could break your fragile creation. By the time you have your second you've learned babies bounce and there's next to nothing a boo-boo buddy (ice pack) and a band-aid won't fix so long as it has cute characters on it.

#30

I barely keep track of the second one’s milestones and she gets a lot more cookies. That being said, when the second one came along I relaxed a lot with both of them. I feel like I am doing a much better job overall now that I have a few years of full-time experience.

#31

Scrapbooking.

Our first kid got every moment documented and journaled, with theme pages and little cut-out decorations.

Our second kid's book only had like three pages completed for over a year and a half. Then we pulled a couple of all-nighters, coming up to her second birthday. We ended up just making up the dates of most of the things.

I think it *still* doesn't have those plastic protector sleeves on half the pages.

#32

I stopped caring about food. With my first, I fought soooooo many battles over making her try bites of things. Couldn’t leave the table until she took a bite. I created so much stress and tension over meals.

And somewhere along the line, I just gave up. I stopped fighting with her. And it took a couple of years, but she slowly got more adventurous. Now I feel like if I had never pushed at all, she would have figured it out much sooner.

With my younger child, I just don’t care what she eats. You want chicken nuggets for every meal? Ok then. Our home isn’t a free for all with chips and cookies and candy, but if she wants to live off of yogurt and cherry tomatoes for a day....what’s the harm?

#33

With my first I was very serious about following all of the guidelines for everything- eating, screen time, socializing, etc. Everything I did was because I felt like I “should” be doing it based on his developmental stage. It caused me a ton of stress trying to fit him and I into the box of these average guidelines.

With my second, I relaxed and did was was best for him and our family. I’m sure I’m breaking all the best practice rules, but I know I’m a better mom for not obsessing about what everyone else is doing.

#34

Nearly everything. The first one was our little guinea pig. Neither my husband nor I had ever taken care of an infant before. Our first kid taught us it’s not as easy to harm an infant as you might think.

#35

Schedules. I was obsessed with keeping my oldest on a feeding schedule (breastfeeding) and napping/sleep schedule. Staying on schedule just dominated my life and honestly ruined the little time I had with my baby outside of work.

There were definitely positives. I attribute it to helping me breastfeed for two years and why my child still naps and goes to bed on schedule with little fighting about it, if any. But I still think I could have been a little more lax about it and not get so worked up when the schedule had to slide a little.

#36

First one I was super freaked about everything. Older mom, no babysitting experience with babies, and my little brother is practically my Irish twin since he's only 14 months younger than me. So when I struggled to breastfeed, it was the end of the world. I felt like a total failure and struggled until about 8 weeks, which by then I'd been back at work for two weeks with no real place to pump besides a bathroom, which regardless of me posting a sign on it to state I was pumping, people would pound on the door. Because yes, you must use that bathroom, not one of the other five in the building. Supply sank and I gave up. I mean at that point I had been doing everything possible to increase my supply and the odds were against me. And I felt like a total failure.

Flash forward to kid two. At five and a half weeks she starts having issues with my milk. Too much lactase, not enough supply. I immediately declared the boob diner closed and went to Target for soy formula. Baby starts sleeping through the night immediately and is the happiest baby ever. Yes, I was super sad because breast feeding does make you bond, it makes momma feel all relaxed (in my case so much so that I would occasionally nod off, not a good thing either) but just being able to snuggle her and give her a bottle and have her be happy and satisfied was good enough. More than anything, I learned with kid two, it is not about mom. It's about baby. If baby is happy and thriving, you are doing great. Also it ended up being an added blessing, because my older kid and I caught RSV, so little one had to be cared for my family on and off for a few days while I was caring for her big sis and then staying with her in the hospital.

#37

With my first it was baby monitors diaper bag changing table all the fancy things I was told I "needed".... By the time my second came I was already a light sleeper and we live in an apartment with VERY thin walls so if I forgot my baby monitor in another room or forgot to charge it up no big, changed him on my couch, bed, floor, trunk of my car... Pretty much anywhere but my changing table which by this point was being used more as a shelf. And as for the diaper bag once you have had babies long enough you can easily tell how much and of what that you'll need and the only time I ever used it is if I was going to be gone on long trips away from home... Otherwise everything is shoved in a grocery bag or my purse if it'll fit.

#38

Everything. I was going to my parents house which is only about 2.5 hours away with my first baby. Baby was sound asleep and halfway I stopped and woke him up to make sure he wasn't hungry and just didn't know it because he was asleep. Learned real fast that you never wake a sleeping baby and they will definitely let you know when they are hungry

#39

Crying/throwing fits. I'd run to my first child at any sign of crying or upset. This one? If I know he's not tired, hungry, teething, hurt, or soiled, let him cry.

#40

Everything. Mine are only 11 months apart but my momming during the baby stage was so different. Logging poops and farts and burps. Coordinating super cute outfits. Buying baby shoes. Refusing help. Felt like I needed to entertain them every second like a court jester. The second I was just much more relaxed. I think it’s part of why he crawled and walked so early, I wasn’t there helicoptering as much so he worked through things.

#41

Being nice to people/giving them multiple chances. Seriously. Some kids just don’t mesh. Better to just recognize it and move on then keep setting yourself up for failure over and over.

#42

I worked with kids for years prior to birthing my own, so i was never the helicopter parent that some first time parents are. But with my first, I was very NO bottle or binky after age 1. My second still has both and is much older than 1. He's medically complicated and goes through A LOT and the binky, specifically, is his comfort item... he'll let me know when he's done with it. *shrug*

#43

Cleaning, flexibility on working, music genre, etc.

My first is a boy, my youngest is a girl. I feel like my eyes opened even more after having my daughter. I treat them both the same way.

#44

Most injuries. Most of the time if they fall and hit their heads they are fine. Also, screen time. I’m learned to let a lot of things go during this pandemic while homeschooling 3 boys.

I was constantly worried about brain injuries with my first. Now at our third who is way more of a handful than the other two combined it just doesn’t feel like a day of the week unless one of them gets hurt using furniture as the jungle gym we’ve already stated countless times that it’s not. I can’t imagine what it must be to be a parent to more than 3 kids.

#45

College application season.
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