Toddlers are curious little people. We may think that they don’t notice much, but that’s wrong. Their perception is strong and they can surprise us with their insights. But can they know, before you do, that you’re pregnant?
There is anecdotal evidence that toddlers can pick up on pregnancy. This has led to a belief that they have a sixth sense around the issue. Yet, the more common understanding is that they are noticing subtle clues you are sending out.
Read on to find out how your toddler seems to know a baby sister or brother is coming.
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How do they know?
Social sites dedicated to mothers and babies carry personal accounts of firstborns talking about an imminent birth. Some mums will look at their child in surprise.
At times the mother may claim that she wasn’t aware that she was pregnant. Then, when hearing the words from her toddler, checks and sure enough there is another baby coming.
Is it some ESP on your toddler’s part? Maybe, but a majority of the time it’s because of telltale signs.
There’s a physical change in you
Hormonal changes can cause your body to do some interesting things. You may look a little different to your toddler (you have a glow). Perhaps they have picked up on a different smell coming from you (body odor increases during pregnancy).
It could be that morning sickness has kicked in and you make frequent visits to the bathroom.
Their usual breakfast has been swapped out with onions and mustard. Yep, your cravings have gone a little wonky.
The tummy that they always rest their head on becomes a little lumpy.
Your toddler may look at you knowingly.
Mum’s mood has changed
Playtime with your firstborn has always been full of energy. Now, your energy level is starting to run down because of the pregnancy. Tiredness and fatigue set in. You join your toddler for a nap.
Maybe happy mum isn’t that happy lately. Depression is experienced by 7% to 15% of first-time mothers.
Those who have a family history of anxiety or mood disorders have a higher chance of experiencing postpartum depression. A second pregnancy could see the expectant mother having periods of low moods.
The change in moods has your toddler wondering what’s wrong with Mum. They may pay more attention to you in order to solve the mystery.
I heard you
Part of your toddler fathoming what is wrong with Mum is listening to what you’re talking about. You may think that they don’t understand much of what you’re saying, but you’re wrong.
From 18 months old, your child becomes a word sponge. Their vocabulary increases by around nine words each day.
So, if you are having a chat with a friend and mention that you’re pregnant, your toddler can pick up on that. Perhaps you have taught what that means, or they have come across the term and figured it out themselves.
If it’s the latter situation, then you may be unaware that your toddler knows what the word means. That is when the shock happens when your wee one asks you about the “baby inside”.
You didn’t know that your toddler understood what you were talking about.
You have seen the different ways that toddlers can pick up on the imminent birth ahead. However, you are certain that they haven’t detected the pregnancy by any of the above methods.
As we mentioned, the internet has many personal accounts of toddlers knowing before their parents do.
Here is just one example from Quora:
A couple of months ago, my toddler woke up early and was snuggling in my bed. Out of nowhere, he whispered, “there’s a baby in your belly.” Later that morning I took a test and sure enough, that little guy is going to be a big brother.
I’m pretty practical and even saying it sounds kind of strange to me but I have to admit I think it is possible my son had some feelings before my husband or I did. We were hoping for another baby at some point but did not share that with our son.
Children are highly intuitive (sadly it can be an ability they lose as they are taught to be more rational and logical). This ability can be so strong it has you gaping at them in disbelief when they say “a baby is coming”.
How they sensed that can have you wondering if it’s some form of ESP.
My toddler isn’t happy about a baby coming
Toddlers that learn they are going to be a big sister or brother may not be too happy about the fact. It’s not unusual for them to exhibit regressive behaviors in which they act like a baby.
They could become more clingy or needy. You may find that they start to be aggressive or easily frustrated.
Children need routine and structure. It provides them with a sense of safety and security. A pregnancy disturbs the normalcy of the toddler’s life and they can feel scared and threatened.
Mum used to be with me all the time, but now she needs to have a lie-down. The attention that was solely given to your firstborn is now divided.
To cope, your toddler can return to behaviors in which they get that attention. For example, they could start wetting their bed more frequently. They may want to crawl into your lap and have cuddles.
There are ways to cope when your toddler exhibits this kind of behavior.
Help your toddler grow up
Your toddler is at a developmental age that straddles them not being a baby anymore and them starting to develop independence. Have you ever tried to help a toddler do something only to have your hand pushed away?
That’s their way of saying “Let me do this myself.”
Understanding this stage of their psychological development allows you to take advantage (in a good way) of the situation. There can be some resentment towards the baby.
Remember that your toddler feels threatened because your attention is split now.
Try to keep the routine
Minimizing disruption to routines can help a lot in having your toddler feel secure. Keep the same bedtime, and read a story (if that was part of the schedule). If you aren’t available then have your spouse step in.
Consider your toddler’s daily schedule and see how you can keep it the same. Of course, there will be some small changes if you’re tired or feeling a little blue.
Changing the routine may be necessary, especially as your progress in the pregnancy. Modify your toddler’s routine one piece at a time.
That allows them to adjust to the new way things are done. Switching out too much at once can be a shock to the system for your firstborn.
Get them involved
As you start to decorate the baby’s room, have your toddler help you. This can help add anticipation to wanting to meet the little brother or sister. When you are out shopping for baby items, have your toddler select a couple of things.
Removing pieces of furniture and other objects from your toddler’s room can result in howls of protest. That’s because they perceive that you are taking things away that belongs to them.
The result can be a build-up of resentment towards the baby.
One way to reduce tears and temper tantrums is to tell your toddler you want to make their room look more amazing. Have their buy-in on the fact that you aren’t taking things away. Make them an ally.
Instead of telling them “We need this for the baby’s room”. Say something like “We can turn this part of your room into a bigger play area.
Uh-oh…these drawers are in the way. Should we put them in another room?”
Be creative and use your psychological know-how.
Use a similar approach when naming the baby. You and your spouse have a short list of names. Ask your toddler what name they like. That way it’s a family affair
Allow for some independence
Though your toddler may still need your time, they also are learning to become their own person. Use this to your advantage. Before the baby is born, start instilling a sense of independence in your toddler.
Sometimes, let them play by themselves while you attend to household chores. That doesn’t mean that you let them out of your sight.
Similar to adjusting routines, introduce independence slowly. However, let your toddler know that you are still there for them.
Toddlers can say the most perceptive things. Things that astound you because you don’t think they are capable of making such observations. One of these can be that they tell you you’re pregnant.
Some consider that this perception is the result of an inherent psychic power within the toddler. Yet, others say that it’s because they have noticed a change in Mum or they overheads you talking.
Whatever the reason, don’t be shocked when your toddler mutters “there’s a baby inside you”. They know.