When I had my first baby everyone in the know was keen to tell me that the newborn stage was the easiest part of parenting, that it only gets harder from there. I was pretty certain they must have forgotten the newborn phase because this did not seem like an easy gig at all! Now that I have a toddler and a newborn I can confirm that they were wrong, not that it necessarily got harder after the newborn stage but just that every stage of raising children comes with their own difficulties. I’m sure once my kids reach school age it will hardly be a walk in the park either with little mini mes answering back then there will be the sulky teenage stage before they go off into the world on their own which will bring a whole new batch of worries!
So far the only two stages I can compare are newborns versus toddlers and each comes with their own difficulties along with moments that melt your heart!
Newborn cry versus toddler tantrum
The first big difference is their method of letting you know when they aren’t happy. On one hand you have the high pitched newborn cry while on the other hand you have a full on toddler tantrum! Both noises are equally intense to listen to and have you wishing there was an off button somewhere to make it stop! Which leads me to the next big difference-
When a newborn cries it is pretty much a guessing game as to what they are trying to communicate to you. Are they hungry? Tired? Full of wind? Sick? When a toddler screams it can also be difficult to figure out what it wrong but we can soon differentiate between the ‘there is blood pouring out of my knee’ scream and the ‘you gave me the wrong spoon to eat my dinner with’ scream. Also in the case of my toddler son although there may not be too much communicated verbally yet he is very good at letting you know what he wants via frantic gesturing!
Another difference is feeding time. Every two to three hours a newborn is ready for their next feed. This can be a time consuming operation of feeding, winding, changing and by the time this is completed it is almost time for the next feed! The only saving grace is that a newborn has a staple diet of milk so mealtimes don’t require much thought. On the other hand although toddlers can go a bit longer between feeds mealtimes require more forward thinking as to what I can feed them that is tasty, nutritious and easy enough to prepare with one child under my arm and another child hanging off my leg. This is generally a thankless task as dinner generally ends up over the floor, fed to the dog or spat out and declared as ‘yuck’ so every spoonful that is actually consumed is considered a triumph!
The final big difference is mobility of the mini people. Newborns are fairly static creatures except for flailing arms and kicking legs and we spend the first year of their lives delighting at every extra little movement they learn to do from rolling, to sitting, crawling to walking. From this point forward we then spend the rest of their toddlerhood wishing they didn’t move so much as we chase a mini whirlwind round the house trying to dress them as they leave destruction in their wake!
So the moral of the story is don’t be wishing for your child to reach the next stage in the hope that it will somehow be easier. Instead just enjoy the present knowing that some day you will look back and miss the newborn/toddler days because in between the moments that have you tearing your hair out nothing will ever beat the first smiles you get from your newborn baby or your toddler snuggling in for a big cuddle and falling asleep on your knee. These are the days that we are the centre of the universe to our little people and I for one never want these days to end!