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Avoiding Second Child Syndrome in Your Second Child, the Easy Way

Thinking about a second baby, perhaps? Or a sixth? Truth is, you don’t tend to need a whole lot the second time around, provided your kids are relatively close in age and you still have non-expired carseats and cribs and whatnot.

But there’s still one investment families adding a new baby may want consider.

It offers years of enjoyment to the whole family, and is an opportunity to develop a whole new set of skills. More, it may save you years of “you didn’t love me as much!” from the younger child(ren).

You can avoid the terrible, horrible trauma of dreaded Second Child Syndrome with one very important purchase: a good camera.

I was unpacking box number oh, twelve hundred of the hundredy-million we seem to have moved with.

My children were “helping,” which, with preschoolers tends to translate into romping gleefully in whatever mess we might be trying to organize. They bring enthusiasm to their work, I’ll give them that.

Suddenly, though, the box had their rapt attention. We’d happened on two identical red photo books, plus a matching storybook. My son, almost six, greeted them like long-lost friends: the storybook had been a favourite of his a few years back. Half his life ago, yet he remembered it.

Image credit: author Debra Frasier’s website.

And anything he thinks is cool, his little sister is willing to try.

They pounced on the photobooks. They’re versions of the storybook, but with a condensed narrative and room for personalization: names, info, photos to be inserted. Oscar marvelled over the sight of his tiny footprints, his first look at the world.

Josephine opened hers, and frowned. A clipping from the newspaper announcing her arrival. Her full name, printed in my most careful handwriting, in the front.

Not another thing.

No footprints. No first snuggle with mama.

I remembered buying it, seeking it out to make sure they had a matched set. I’d checked all over town for a copy to match Oscar’s, and finally it ordered from Amazon. I remembered most distinctly my feeling of deep satisfaction when it came in the mail.

At which point I apparently shoved it on a shelf. I’d never printed a single photo for it.

I gaped at my beloved second child, mortified. She gazed back at me. I could see it in her eyes: the uncertainty, the seeds of a complex Dr. Freud would trace directly back to me someday.

Second Child Syndrome in the making. I cringed.

And I then laughed out loud and gathered her in my arms and said, Honey, I think you’re big enough now to make your special baby book with me.

We did that, this week. It’s beautiful. She loved it, and gloried in it.

Baby has a book, now. Every child deserves a book.

Saved. We hope. 😉

I am the only child of an only child.

When I was a little girl, I remember being baffled by the ease with which my friends’ families acknowledged the disparity that comes with birth order. Older children won in the attention economy, younger children in the freedoms department. Handmedowns were par for their course, but they seemed to get more candy.

What they didn’t get was display. Photo albums. Baby books.

Oh, Jodi? I remember a friend’s mom saying, when I mistook a framed photo montage of said friend’s elder sister as her. Jodi’s the third kid. She’s lucky we have any photos of her at all.

I was horrified, mostly on Jodi’s behalf. I swore to myself that when I became a mother – to seven beautiful daughters, or so went the plan, back in fourth grade – I’d treat all my children with perfect equity. They would know they were loved by the care lavished on their representational selves.

Yes, you can laugh at me now.

By the standards of my ten-year-old self, I am a total parenting FAIL.

Truth is, though, when I became the proud parent of a second child, I didn’t entirely forget my own childhood sympathy for younger kids.

Dave & I did one smart thing when Josephine was born. We did it right before the sleep deprivation really kicked in and rendered us senseless for the year or two following. Okay, three.

(Okay, she’s three-and-a-half, and I still hadn’t printed photos. Mea culpa. But it’s the digital age, folks: her Flickr account is extraordinary).

And that’s the thing. We HAVE photos to fill that baby book, and ten more. Gorgeous ones, in fact.

Because the month that she was born, we stumbled on the realization that all parents of multiple children should be gently prodded towards. We thought, Hey. We already have all the baby stuff. What does a second child actually need? Well, love. And maybe a few pictures of herself to look back on in the fullness of time and know that she was a wonder in herself, never ever second fiddle.

They should seriously hand this advice out in the hospital, for anybody having a second, or third, or seventeenth baby.

Don’t want to make your precious child feel less special than the first one you took a zillion pictures of?


When Josephine was a week or so old, still wee and fuzzy, we found a DSLR camera on sale. It took photos so crisp, you could see the downy baby fluff on her arms. It caught moments that the point-and-shoot we’d had when Oscar was a baby would never have captured. And being able to catch the magic of her tiny-bird self was almost as captivating as she was, so I took literally hundreds of shots. We have more – unprinted, admittedly, but more – of Josephine than we actually ever had of her brother.

The spring after she was born, for Mother’s Day, Dave got me the “nifty fifty”: a 50mm portrait lens that absolutely anybody and their cat can take decent pictures with. All you need is light. And practice. Luckily babies are patient. And cute.


The nice thing about DSLRs is that lots of people learn to use them so well, they actually upgrade. Now, I will never need to upgrade, as I still don’t know how to utilize half the capacity my camera came with, but some people are more diligent than I. (Or talented. Whatever. They probably also put their children’s baby pictures in albums before they’re three.)

But when they upgrade, they often sell their cameras. There are good – even new – DSLR cameras for sale on almost every regional used site, at almost any time. Usually for about half the store price, or not much more than the cost of a, say, new stroller system, or crib, or any of the other things many families already have by the time baby #2 rolls around.

Think about it. Isn’t it worth saving all the expense of therapy for Second Child Syndrome, later? 😉



Twitter: @bonstewart Life blog: Theory blog:

5 Responses to “Avoiding Second Child Syndrome in Your Second Child, the Easy Way”


Great Read Bonnie! I never printed any of the photos of either girl yet… LOL i do admit, i took so many videos and pictures of baby #1 than i did of baby #2, now i look back at the vids and i think, why was i filming this? First baby, makes noise, gotta capture it on film! lol oh, she’s got hiccups, let’s laugh at her frustration and get out the camera! poor loves!


Photos are a gift, and so are photo albums.

Yes, I did baby books for both of mine, but after the first year, I did a calendar. Buy a desktop, spiral bound calendar with beautiful photos or artwork or whatever seems relevant and fill one out for each child. Just jot in little notes like when they went to a birthday party, started lessons, or said that hilarious thing at dinner. I left mine on the kitchen counter so they were easy to access and just jotted stuff in. Very easy. Very fun. No agonizing perfection. Great memories of things other than the typical milestones.


Mary G

I, too, got a good camera shortly after second daughter was born. And you are Absolutely Right.
The other second kid thing? Expecting second born to do what first born did at the same age. Lethal.
Love the article, and the newborn photo. Just excellent



I’ve only printed off a handful of photos here and there, so both my kids have a massive digital photo history, but very little to touch and hold. It’s on my list of things to do when I get this degree done! And, yes, by now they are well and truly old enough to help me put together their own books. 🙂



Guilty as charged! And not for a second born- my first and only! She’s 2 and bit and I’m no further ahead than 6 months :S

We’re using Shutterfly to get updated now.

I’m third child of 4, so the less pictures of me thing is right up my alley…! I have Third Child syndrome! But you’re right, there shouldn’t be an excuse in our digital age.


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