Perspectives: 10 Parents on Managing the Terrible Twos While Pregnant

Perspectives: Toddlers while pregnant

Verywell / Christian Alzate

For our Perspectives series, we are interviewing pregnant people on how they’re handling this life stage with a toddler at home.

Having a toddler is hard work, and there may be days when you couldn't imagine caring for an infant while also dealing with a dreaded tantrum from your 2-year-old. But many, many families have multiple children, and the parents below are sharing their firsthand experiences of caring for a two-year-old while also being pregnant.

Whether you're on the fence and searching for advice on why families choose to have multiple children, or are currently pregnant and searching for reassurance, these stories will share the many aspects—the challenges and the advantages—of being pregnant with a toddler at home.

Keep reading to see why these families decided to have another child when they did, and how they explained to their two-year-old that another baby was on the way.

Nicole Sulano

Nicole Sulano

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Nicole Sulano

Age: 38

Location: Bedminster, PA

Occupation: Program Manager

Kids’ ages: Jackson, 6, Connor, 2

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

Not being able to be super mobile and getting tired easily. My son Connor likes to use me as a jungle gym and I have to be very careful that he doesn’t jump on my belly. Other than that, we are very lucky that we have the most kind-hearted and thoughtful toddler who likes to help, anticipates what you might need, and just gets it. I know that’s not your typical toddler. I'm not sure how we got so lucky! He is testing boundaries, of course, but unless he is tired or hungry, his temper tantrums are short.

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

We explain that there is a baby in mommy’s belly, and show him pictures from when he was a baby and Jackson, our 6 year old, was holding him. We also got him a big brother book. We ask him who will be a big brother and he says “me!” proudly. We ask him to give baby a kiss and he kisses my belly.

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

In all honesty, this wasn’t a planned pregnancy. We had to go through fertility treatment for our first two boys. After paying for storage for our embryos for over two years, we decided it was time to let go, and said “if it happens, it happens.” Funny enough, three days later, I tested positive. Well played, universe!

Cindy Watson

Cindy Watson

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Cindy Watson

Age: 27

Location: Canberra, Australia

Occupation: Stay at home parent

Kid's age: 2

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

The hardest thing when it comes to being pregnant while looking after a toddler is keeping up with my son and the world around me. The first time I was pregnant, it was great—I slept when I wanted, and still got to go out and enjoy a quiet shopping trip. Whereas now, I have to plan every single thing I do with my toddler. My husband works long hours but I do have support around. I cherish any sort of "downtime" I can get. I am very lucky to have support—if I didn't, we most likely wouldn't have had a second.

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

We have been using a baby doll with our two-year-old son—he loves to cuddle and soothe the doll. Our son has also noticed my big belly and says "baby, baby." Although I feel like it's not until she is here that we will all truly adjust to our new family.

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

Although the "terrible 2s" are true, it's only temporary. We felt our family was missing one more slice of love and we went for having another baby. Being pregnant and running around with a toddler is not ideal, but I wouldn't change it for anything.

Brooke Cavalla

Brooke Cavalla

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Brooke Cavalla

Age: 37

Location: Fresno, CA

Occupation: Blogger/Owner of “Struggles of a Fit Mom

Kids’ ages: 2, 4, and 6

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

The most challenging part about being pregnant while also caring for a toddler is navigating all the symptoms that come with pregnancy, such as exhaustion, morning sickness, discomforts, and mood swings, all while trying to keep up with an energetic and moody 2-year-old. 

One minute you feel energized, excited, and on top of the world, then the next, you are so physically and mentally exhausted that you can barely move, let alone chase a toddler. 

Two-year-olds are so fun but also extremely challenging because they are starting to develop little minds of their own. The constant tantrums and meltdowns can really wear you down during pregnancy. And the amount of energy they have is almost impossible to keep up with at times!

Not having the ability to rest and recharge like I did when I was pregnant with my first made for some very long days! Being pregnant with other kids takes a lot of mental toughness but you really have no choice! I was basically in pure survival mode for nine months. There were a lot of tears from both myself and my toddlers but we all survived! 

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

In our experience, 2 years old is a little young to completely comprehend what it means that mommy is having another baby. When we felt it was time to tell our 2-year-old that we were having another baby, we kept it as simple and straightforward as possible. 

We simply said something along the lines of, “Mommy and daddy have some very exciting news. You are going to be a big sister! (We have three girls.) That means there is a baby growing in mommy’s belly.” 

I bought big sister books to help them get a visual of what to expect, we would show them our ultrasound pictures, let them feel my belly when the baby kicked, and get them involved in picking out toys and clothes for their new sibling. My goal was to keep them involved in the journey as much as possible so they never felt blind-sided or shocked when the new baby came. 

My firstborn never seemed too thrilled about the idea of another baby coming. My second born also never really fully grasped what it meant that a new baby was coming, but my current 2-year-old talks about her new baby brother coming every single day! She is, by far, the most excited. Every child is different and reacts differently. 

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

We always hoped that our kids would be close in age and that meant being pregnant through the “terrible twos." However, every stage and age comes with its own set of challenges, so I don’t think being pregnant when our kids were 2 is much harder than if they were a little older. 

The toddler years are definitely challenging, but we are also thankful that our kids will grow up close in age. They have such a close bond now that it makes it all worth it! And the benefit of having them closer together is that we will be out of the toddler stage faster than if they were spaced out more. 

Jaime Maser Berman

Jamie Maser Berman

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Jaime Maser Berman

Age: 43

Location: Westfield, NJ

Occupation: Founder, Maser Communications

Kids’ ages: 21 months, 3, and 5

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

The down and dirty? There is no being tired or nauseous or exhausted or "woe is me" when you're pregnant and have a toddler to tend to. You have a little human that can't comprehend that you have morning sickness, are lethargic, have zero energy, or feel like you're going to puke or pass out. You're their mom—full stop. You don't get any passes or pauses just because you're pregnant. 

When you're pregnant with your first child, you will get to experience every single second of pregnancy. The good, the bad, the incredible, the ugly. For lack of better words, you get to indulge in the pregnancy. Everything is exciting and a first, and you can focus on being pregnant and truly feeling all of the feels.

I found that that does not apply when you're a mom to a toddler and pregnant again. The pregnancy flies by—you're so busy focusing on the child (or children) you have, and the weeks and the trimesters and maternity milestones take the backseat to that, for better or for worse. You don't really get to savor or soak in the pregnancy.

I find that I have to remind myself that even though it's not the first time being pregnant, it's still awesome in every sense. It's worth taking a second to revel in that and celebrate the various milestones—hearing the heartbeat for the first time, the first sonogram, getting back great news from various bloodwork and tests, the first time you feel the baby kick, etc. 

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

We didn't purchase or read any big brother books or buy baby dolls or focus too much on the fact that we were going to be adding another sibling to the mix. With my older children, they noticed that I had a bigger belly and would sometimes kiss it or sit on it or push it, but I don't think there was really any comprehension about how much the world was going to shift with who was in that belly. That seems to be our parenting philosophy (more low key and go with it than over-prepare)—and we've found that our kids are really adaptable and vibe well with that. 

Being pregnant this time around, with my oldest as a 5-year-old, is wild. He understands that Mommy is having another baby and is excited to be a big brother (again). It's truly the first time that I've experienced one of my kids knowing that there are imminent changes happening in the family dynamic and that they will have a role in that. 

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

My age took out any question or hesitation about having two under 2 that may have arisen under normal circumstances. My husband and I both knew we wanted at least three kids—and our first was born one month shy of me turning 38. As society and your OB constantly remind you, we didn't have the luxury of time to wait to try for number two or three or four because of biology.

I feel more than lucky that I have been able to conceive naturally and have relatively easy pregnancies and deliveries—especially at my age for each kid. (I was 37, 39, and 41 when my first three children were born and I am now 43, expecting my fourth.) 

I love the idea of the kids being close in age and feel like it sets them up for a true friendship as they get older. I'm the middle of three sisters—each of us are two and a half years apart—and we are thick as thieves. I knew that if I could get pregnant and have multiple children, I wanted the same for my kids in terms of closeness of years. I would have happily had them be less than two years apart. 

There's no sugarcoating that it's often chaos at our house. We had two kids under 2, then three kids under 4, and soon, it will be four kids under 6. And don't forget the two rescue dogs. I wouldn't have it any other way. There are certainly challenging minutes and moments, and I find myself wanting to pull my hair out and my heart beating over time in frustration or anger or both, but those moments do pass. And in my opinion, the good far outweighs the bad.

Also, I've learned that there's never an ideal time for anything—to switch jobs, to move cities, to buy a house, to try for a baby, to try for another baby, etc. You just have to do it and go with it, and trust that it will work itself out.

Shannon Migita

Shannon Migita

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Shannon Migita

Age: 35

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Occupation: Account Director at Baltz & Company Public Relations

Kid’s age: 2

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

Caring for a toddler while pregnant can be draining. In my first trimester, I was especially exhausted and unsure if it was because I was pregnant and chasing a toddler, if this pregnancy just hit different, or a combination of the two. My energy returned in the second trimester, but some days it's physically tough to carry around a 2-year-old, who often wants to be held. I feel a tinge of guilt if I need to put him down knowing these days are numbered. 

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

Little by little, we continue to explain what's happening. We've been calling the little one to come "ototo," which means little brother in Japanese. Our son kisses my growing belly and says "Hi, ototo. Good morning, ototo!" We talk with him about all of the cool things he will teach his little brother. As we get closer to our due date, we plan to explain in more concrete terms. 

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

We've heard from friends that it can be a bit of a challenge, but we think the age distance is pretty ideal. Our first born is old enough to communicate but the distance is not so great that they won't play together. My brother and I are about the same age difference, and we remain very close. 

Amy Fritz

Amy Fritz

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Amy Fritz

Age: 35

Location: Traverse City, MI

Occupation: Brand Ambassador at GoGo squeeZ

Kids’ ages: 1 and 3

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

The hardest thing was trying to enjoy the pregnancy. With my first, I was able to rest more, plan, and look forward to the baby. During my second pregnancy I was constantly trying to keep up with a toddler and oftentimes forgot I was even pregnant.

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

We were fortunate enough to have a baby born into our family when my son turned 2. The real-world experience was very helpful for him to see what babies were like. We also made sure to get all the baby accessories out early so we could explain what everything was. Prepping our toddler and explaining even the simplest things has proven to be helpful for him.

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

We already knew we wanted two kids, so it was really a matter of when for us. My son had just turned 2 when we found out we were pregnant and I feel like he was going through an “easier” phase. (Things change constantly, though!) Now that my boys are 3 and 1, it is so fun to see them play and interact with each other. We wouldn't change a thing.

Venessa King

Venessa King

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Venessa King

Age: 40

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Occupation: PR and Marketing Consultant

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

No rest! I was so tired when I was pregnant, and when you are chasing after a 2-year-old, it’s rough. I really had a hard time because I had such bad pain in my pelvis, so running around was very uncomfortable.

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

Our daughter always liked babies so we just explained that we were going to have one. As my belly grew, of course, it became confusing. Our second was born six weeks early, so that was also hard because we didn’t get to really prep our older daughter closer to delivery. Because the baby was in the NICU for 10 days, it gave us time to explain to our daughter that she was coming home. 

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

Our second pregnancy wasn’t planned. But I will say while we were nervous about it, having them so close together actually ended up being a good thing. We still had all of the baby stuff in our home and everything was still fresh in our mind of what to do. 

Stefania Catapano 

Stefania Catapano

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Stefania Catapano

Age: 33

Location: New York

Occupation: Publicist

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

The hardest thing is feeling like you can't give adequate time and attention to your toddler, who wants just that. The first trimester was the hardest as I was beyond exhausted, nauseous all day, and working full-time. On top of that, I have a toddler who has needs and wants to play with Mommy and can't understand why I'm not able to like before. It just makes me feel terrible! 

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

My explanation was pretty straightforward to my toddler: There is a baby growing in Mommy's tummy and soon, that baby will join us and he will be a big brother. We've talked to him about how, as a big brother, he'll be able to help teach the baby and read to the baby and be Mommy and Daddy's big helper!

We often show him the app I use to track my pregnancy, which gives a 3D look at what the baby supposedly looks like in my tummy and compares the baby's size to different fruits—which he loves! We also plan on getting him a baby doll to help teach him how he should act with the baby in real life. 

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

We definitely wanted our children to be closer in age and always feel like they have someone to play with and keep them company. I don't know that we'd ever feel "ready" to add to our family, as life can get so hectic, so I believe you just need to let it happen as it will and enjoy the ride! I just keep telling myself that it may be difficult during these early years but as my children get older and hopefully grow their bond, I will be so happy we did things as we did. Those earlier years will be a blur in time!

Olivia Howell

Olivia Howell

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Olivia Howell

Age: 36

Location: Long Island, NY

Occupation: Founder, March Lion Media + Fresh Starts Registry 

Kids’ ages: 5 and 8

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

I had gestational diabetes with both my pregnancies, so I had to really make sure I took care of my health while also being a full-time work-at-home mom to my toddler. My sons are 2 years and 10 months apart, so I was keeping my toddler busy learning, playing, and interacting in the world, while also caring for myself with gestational diabetes. I had to walk after every meal, check my blood sugar, eat the right foods, and go to lots of doctor appointments. Luckily, I had a backyard and could get outside and move around a lot with my toddler! 

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

We found out we were having a boy pretty early on, so I remember distinctly telling my son that he was going to have a brother and him asking if they could go into the woods to chop wood together. (We don't live in the woods!) We bought him a baby boy doll and stroller, which he loved to play with, and listened to the Okee Dokee Brothers, who have a song called "Brother." We learned all the words to it! We also watched a lot of PBS Kids episodes about having a new baby and read books. We still love Debi Gliori's "Where Did That Baby Come From?"

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

I am the oldest of four siblings and my sons' father is the youngest of three, so we always assumed we would try for more than one kid. As someone very close to her siblings, I was thrilled when I found out my second was a boy because I knew in my heart they would have a strong bond. I'm really happy with our family size and two boys! Yes, it was challenging during pregnancy, but pregnancy isn't forever! 

Laura Ford

Laura Ford

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Laura Ford

Age: 36

Location: Westchester, NY

Occupation: Hospitality Industry

Kids’ ages: 2 and 4

What’s the Hardest Thing About Being Pregnant While Also Caring for a Toddler?

There are so many transitions that toddlers go through, like potty training and moving from a crib to a bed. As parents, we were mindful that we didn’t want to upset our son’s routine when his brother arrived, so we tackled these milestones while I was pregnant. The crib to bed transition was hard, with our son insisting we sit by the door until he fell asleep. He would wake in the middle of the night for hours at a time. When you are pregnant, you are already so tired, and these added struggles of trying to set a foundation for our toddler felt overwhelming at times.

How Have You Explained That Another Baby is Joining the Family to Your 2-Year-Old?

We told our son at 12 weeks that a baby lived in mom’s belly and he was going to be a big brother. Two days later, we found out we were expecting a boy. Every night we made sure our son said goodnight to “baby brother." We even came up with a special song for him to sing to the baby. 

What Made You Decide You Wanted to Have Another Baby While Going Through the (Sometimes) Challenging Toddler Years?

Before getting pregnant, I cried—how could I love someone as much as my son? I was also terrified—how could I add another child onto my already full plate? However, I was confident our son would be a fantastic older brother. As the big kid in our friend group, he was always so caring to the babies. While certain times were challenging, we kept reminding ourselves how much our son had changed in the past three, six, nine months and knew that whatever struggles we had would eventually turn into something else.

Was this page helpful?