This is inspired by a recent Twitter conversation. With the twelve year age difference in my girls, I have obviously done things differently with Sophie than I did with Emma. Part of this is because I'm older and more confident, but much of the reason is because I just know more now. Resources were available to me the second time that were not there the first time. So, what would I do differently? Lots of things.
If I could take the knowledge I have now and go back in time, poor Emma would have a much happier infancy! Luckily she is fine now and doesn't remember any of it, but I feel so bad now that I didn't know such easy things to help her! Like garlic - I had no idea until after Sophie was born that it's a common cause of gas and colic in breastfed babies. Sophie had a week or two of that pain until I tried eliminating garlic, and then she was fine. Poor Emma had a few months of that. Sensitive diapers would have saved Emma two years of pain and terrible rashes! We learned when she was a few years older that she had sensitive skin; I have no doubt the diapers themselves contributed to her rashes since no treatment worked for her.
Then there's the overnight issues. I can't count how many hours I spent awake with Emma at night, trying to get her back to sleep. Rocking, pacing, "sleep training" (didn't last long), singing, pleading, anything to get her back to sleep. This time? I was too old and tired for that. When Sophie wakes up in the night, she comes into bed with us, snuggles up and goes right back to sleep. The only time I've spent more than a couple minutes awake in the middle of the night was the night both she and Emma were sick the same night (but not at the same time thank goodness). I started this when she was a newborn. I'd put her to bed in her cradle (and then crib later), but would bring her back to our bed when she woke up. When she began sleeping all night, she stayed in her bed all night. There also was no big transition event (or issue!) from our bed to her crib since she was in both regularly anyway. And now that she's in a toddler bed, I don't even have to get up out of bed. It's so nice to have sleep!
The biggest difference, though, is something that can't be changed but I only learned because of the experiences I had the first time around, and it's the first piece of advice I give any new parent: Trust yourself. Anyone and everyone will try to tell you what you or your baby "should" be doing, from your parents to your friends to strangers at the store. The bottom line, though, is that no one knows your baby like you do. Trust your instincts. If everyone raves about a method of sleep training or potty training or discipline or whatever, but every fiber of your being is screaming at you that it's wrong - listen to yourself! There are hundreds of parenting experts, but only one expert on your baby. You've got this.