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Parenting the second time around

No two babies are alike. Because of that, parenting styles that worked for your first child may not work for the next one. Getting to know your new baby's temperament can help make things easier—on both of you.

You're on your second trip into parenthood. And you can't help but feel confident. After all, you've been through the infant years once. But this time things seem different.

Your first baby was calm, quiet and a good sleeper. Your new baby is fussy. Plus, he or she startles easily and does not sleep for long periods of time.

Well, don't be alarmed. There's likely nothing wrong with either baby. They're just different. Even members of the same family have unique temperaments, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Understanding temperament

Every child reacts in certain ways to different things. For example, one child may become upset and cry at length after hearing a loud noise. The same sound may barely startle someone else.

Many things make up a child's temperament. They include the child's level of activity and response to new situations. How well a child adapts, as well as his or her intensity, mood and attention span come into play as well. Most kids fall into one of three broad temperament types, reports the AAP.

The easy baby. An infant that can adapt. He or she has regular eating patterns and responds well to most changes.

The slow-to-warm-up baby. A baby with a shy temperament. He or she is slow to adapt to change, new people and new environments. This baby will often react to change by crying.

The difficult or challenging baby. The opposite of the easy baby. He or she may best be described as strong-willed. A challenging baby will probably have a high intensity level. And he or she may not adapt well to change.

It's important to be able to tell the difference between your child's temperament and other problems. For instance, chronic illness or stress can cause problems with behavior. This has nothing to do with temperament. The more time you spend with your baby, the easier it will be to tell the difference between his or her temperament and other problems.

What's best for your baby

As you get to know your baby's temperament, you'll want to adjust your parenting style. You may also need to rethink some ideas you had about child rearing and see if they are in line with your new baby's character. This doesn't mean giving in to your baby's every whim. It just means finding the best way to relate to your little one's personality and needs.

No matter how much expert advice you read or receive, there is no parenting style that works for every child, according to the AAP. You need to develop your own guidelines. And you should base them on your child's personality, your beliefs and your family life.

The key thing is to respond to your baby's needs. Uniqueness is a strength for every child. And respecting that strength will help you develop a loving relationship with your child.

Reviewed 11/22/2022

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