There's no bigger change in a woman's life than becoming a mother for the first time. With my first child, it seemed like every day brought a hundred new surprises.
But when I became pregnant for the second time, I thought I got this! And in some ways, that was true. I didn't stress nearly as much about every little thing. But I quickly learned that boy number two was his own person -- and that I still had a lot to learn.
Here are 20 things I learned from the second baby.
1. Just because your pregnancy went a certain way with the first child doesn't mean it will go anything like that with the next one.
2. A baby doesn't have to be carried all that carefully. In fact, he'll adjust quite easily to being carried like a football.
3. You'll worry to death about the first one no longer being an "only child" while you're pregnant. He'll be just fine.
4. Even a relatively young baby will find a way to fight with his older sibling.
5. Five stained onesies can make up a baby's entire wardrobe.
6. You can survive bed rest even though you'll be convinced you'll never make it. You might be surly, but you can do it.
7. Your body doesn't bounce back quite as well with the second one (if it ever did in the first place).
8. You can indeed be more tired than you ever thought possible.
9. A baby doesn't really need shoes.
10. You can do the same things you did with the first one and the second one will still turn out totally different.
11. You no longer think having one kid is hard.
12. No, you will not have any "me" time. Even in a two-parent household, no one is "off" anymore -- you're now in man-to-man coverage.
13. You're not a yeller, you say? Well, if you ever want to be heard above the kids, you are now.
14. I do not indeed have an unlistenable singing voice.
15. Some kids do not like TV. At all.
16. Sometimes the closest thing to a break you'll get will be lying on the floor while two children straddle you and yell "Yeehaw!"
17. Childproofing is not childproof.
18. A small child can scale a piece of furniture before you have time to wipe your nose.
19. If the older child laughs at him, he'll do absolutely anything over and over and over and over. The older child doesn't laugh at good behavior.
20. There is enough room in your heart to love another child just as much as you loved the first one.
A study published in the journal Infant Behavior & Development revealed that the standard "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" has little to do with reality. When 253 college students were asked to rank photos of the same individuals as infants and young adults (without being told who was who), there was no relationship between how cute the students found the babies and how attractive they found the grown-ups.
No, really, it's true. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard the shout "Mine!" -- research shows babies can sense fairness at 15 months. During one study at the University of Washington, 47 babies observed videos of an experimenter distributing milk and crackers to two people. When one recipient received more food than the other, the babies paid more attention. That means they had expected a fair distribution. The researchers also found that babies who did notice unfairness were more likely to share their own toys.
OK, so they're not exactly psychic. But a recent study from the University of Missouri found that babies just 10 months old are starting to follow the thought processes of others. Yuyan Luo, an associate professor of developmental psychology who conducted the study, tells The Huffington Post, "Babies, like adults, when they see something for the first time -- when something is surprising -- they look for a long time. It shows [they recognize] something is inconsistent." It's called the "violation of expectation," she explained. When babies are surprised by something or notice something unexpected has happened, they tend to gaze at that thing longer. In Luo's research, babies watched actors consistently choose object A (such as a block or a cylinder) over object B. When an actor then switched to object B, the babies stared for about five to six seconds longer, meaning they recognized the change in preference.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Treat all people the same. We're all equals. These are sentiments parents strive to teach their kids from a very young age. And they should. Starting, like, immediately. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom found that babies at three months begin showing a preference for the faces of people of their own race. But not all hope for equality is lost. The same study showed that babies who are exposed to people of all different races are less likely to develop bias at such an early age.
Researchers from Brigham Young University found that five-month-old babies can identify an upbeat song as being different from a series of sad, slow songs. In other words, they are happy. They know it. They will clap their hands. Or stare longer, as the case may be. The experimenters showed babies an emotionless face while music played. When they played a new sad song, the babies looked away. When the music pepped up, the babies stared for three to four seconds longer.
Babies have a sense of morality at six months old, say Yale researchers. During the Yale study, babies watched a puppet show in which a wooden shape with eyes tried to climb a hill over and over again. Sometimes a second puppet helped him up the hill, and other times a third puppet pushed him down. After watching the act several times, the babies were presented with both puppets. They showed a clear preference for the good characters over the bad ones by reaching to play with the good puppet.
Dr. Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia, who studies how babies perceive language, found that if a mother spoke two languages while pregnant, her infant could recognize the difference between the two. And they don't even have to be spoken out loud. Werker's research found that infants four to six months old can visually discriminate two languages when watching muted videos of someone speaking both.
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