Chilled out Princess Charlotte, six weeks, poses in the arms of big brother Prince George, who gave mom Kate Middleton a tougher time when he was her age, according to Prince Charles. (Photo: HRH The Duchess of Cambridge)
The world’s most famous second-born child, Princess Charlotte, just got a glowing review from her adoring grandpa, Prince Charles.
At a tea he hosted to honor World War II pilots, Charles was asked how his granddaughter was doing. He reportedly replied that not only does Charlotte sleep through the night, but that she is “much easier” on her mom than her big brother Prince George was when he was her age.
Prince William and Kate Middleton aren’t the only parents who might be realizing that their second-born child is better behaved than baby number one. Anecdotally, it’s something families with two or more kids often notice. Even without the royal family, Prince Harry always had a rep as more fun-loving and laid-back than dutiful older brother Wills.
Research appears to back this up, suggesting that middle kids are more chilled out than firstborns. One study found that firstborns had stronger perfectionist tendencies, and that could be an indication that they are higher maintenance.
What’s the reason for baby number two’s more mellow attitude? One explanation has to do with how babies pick up on their parents’ moods. When baby number one arrives, even the best parents often feel overwhelmed, anxious about taking care of a helpless child.
By the time the second bundle of joy arrives, moms and dads are more confident, and the baby absorbs calmer energy. “Infants pick up on their parents’ emotions and respond in kind,” Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills-based child and family psychotherapist, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Relaxed parents give off relaxed energy, often leading to a more relaxed child.”
Also, since parents now have two babies to take care of, second-borns may not be catered to quite as much. “When the baby cries, his mom might not rush in the room to hold him, because she’s busy with the older sibling,” says Walfish. “So the second born learns to self-soothe and comes off as less needy.”
The other thing is, the second-born baby might not actually be any easier than the first. But a parent perceives the child to be that way because the parents themselves are more self-assured and calm, having sweated out all their parenting anxiety out on the firstborn.
“By the time the second kid arrives, parents are more seasoned. So the experience is easier, and that makes the baby seem easier,” says Walfish.