Who has it better: Firstborn or second?


Since the day I found out I was pregnant with kid #2, my husband and I have known we were in unchartered waters with raising a “second born”. We are both the oldest in our family, and obviously, with one kid, we had another “oldest” under our roof. This new child would be the only “non-firstborn” in our home. While we were honestly elated at the prospect of a becoming a family of four, we may or may not have jokingly referred to our unborn child as “the interloper” while I was pregnant. How could there ever be a kid we’d love as much as our only son?? Side note: If you are pregnant with your second child (or thinking about a second child), fear not: those feelings are totally normal, and they are soon replaced by loving a second child just as much as the first.

Now, #2 is almost three years old, and both my husband and I have noticed that things are, in fact, different when you’re not the first born. How so? Well, here are our observations:

  • Everything is a hand-me-down. The hooded towels, onesies, crib, sheets, pajamas, bathing suits– nothing is new. This is especially true if the children are the same gender. We bought next to nothing!
  • Getting 100% of your parents’ attention is a rare thing for #2, while our firstborn got it all for 2.5 years
  • Kid #2 is expected to share pretty much from day 1, whereas kid #1 gets everything for himself for several years
  • You have boatloads of toys! Why? Everything kid #1 had (and outgrew) is now yours…but there are still birthdays and holidays, so you get new stuff on top of all that.
  • You’re more…robust. Let’s be honest– if anyone so much as sneezed near our firstborn, we wiped him down and watched him for flu symptoms. Everything was boiled and sanitized and we never raised our voices. Kid #2 was in the front carrier in a children’s museum when he was less than 2 weeks old, and he learned to walk despite being knocked down by his brother.
  • Your parents mostly know what they’re doing! In hindsight, the firstborn is like a huge experiment. You benefit from your parents kind of knowing what’s going on!
  • You are never without a playmate. While kid #1 has to adjust to the initially harsh reality that he is no longer the one-and-only, you fortunately (or unfortunately? I haven’t decided yet…) never knew what that was like, and simply know you aren’t ever really alone when you have a sibling.
  • New situations aren’t as scary, because you have an older sibling who has been there; done that. Starting preschool? Big brother will tell you how it is! Weekend at the grandparents? Older sib will be there, so you aren’t truly alone.

It has been interesting to see things from the perspective of the younger sibling. While part of me can relate to the frustration my older child feels when his brother topples a block tower he just spent ten minutes building, I think I better understand the tears of the younger child being told he’s too little to play legos. I guess above all, I should say “sorry” for all the tormenting my husband and I may or may not have inflicted on our own younger siblings, about thirty years after the fact!

"You're the best brother ever for not booby-trapping my room!!!"
“You’re the best brother ever for not booby-trapping my room!!!”

3 comments on “Who has it better: Firstborn or second?”

  1. I totally second this! However, I am an only child, so it’s been interesting dealing with having a second child and not being able to relate to either child!

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