Do Toddlers Know When You’re Pregnant? (Can They Sense New Baby Coming?)

Do Toddlers Know When You're Pregnant? Can Babies Sense New Baby Coming?

Medically reviewed by Raye Mariano – RN, BSN, BA

If you’re already a toddler mom and just found out you are having another baby, then you are in for another new adventure!

Believe it or not, having your second child can be just as nerve-wrecking and at times unpredictable as the first. The experience will be much different this time around because you have your little first-born with you every step of the way but it will also be more special.

A new baby’s arrival means lots of excitement. You’re giving your child a sibling and looking forward to experiencing them meet and grow up together. However, from the moment you get that positive pregnancy test you probably have been worrying about the unknowns.

You might be asking yourself questions that you haven’t had to think about before until now. For example: “Should I tell my older children right away or wait? How should we explain it to them? How will they react to the news?!”.

It is completely normal to have these types of fears going into your second pregnancy.

There are also other issues that present themselves when you are pregnant with a toddler at home. Maybe you haven’t even told your older one yet but you are already noticing that he or she is acting differently. Maybe they are acting extra clingy or fussy.

Why are they acting this way? You might be wondering “Can my toddler sense that I am pregnant?”.

If you’re curious about whether or not babies or toddlers can sense pregnancy than keep reading because there’s lots to learn about what it’s like to go through pregnancy with a toddler in tow.

PRO TIP: Baby no. 2 is coming? Congrats! To make the preparation easier for you, here is my article about all must-have for second baby (and things you can reuse!).

This article is not a substitute for medical advice or consultation.

Do Babies Feel When Someone Is Pregnant?

You may have heard some old wives tales about how babies sense pregnancy in another person. Can babies actually sense when someone is pregnant? Can they communicate with other babies in the womb?

There is no scientific evidence to support the claims that babies have some psychic intuition about pregnancies1.

However, it is entirely possible for children, even babies, to pick up on changes in their environment suggesting something new and different is going on. They might not know that anew baby is on the way but they do notice that something is going on.

How Can Toddler Sense New Baby Coming?

How Can Toddler Sense New Baby Coming?

Toddlers are extremely routine oriented so they might be thrown off by even subtle changes to their everyday schedule. They are also extremely curious and love to explore and take in the world around them.

Toddlers pick up on little details that you didn’t think they would realize or that you didn’t even notice yourself.

Another thing is that toddlers are especially in tune with their mothers. They are very sensitive to their mom’s behaviors, feelings, moods, even the way she smells. Therefore, toddlers can sense the tiniest of changes in her and know when she is acting a bit different2.

What specific changes is your toddler likely to see, hear, and experience during the nine months that you’ve got another baby on the way?

1. Physical Changes

Even as early as the first trimester some pregnant women might start to look differently, like if you are experiencing bloating or weight gain or even that pregnancy glow. Seeing a noticeable baby bump will definitely be evident to your toddler and this usually occurs between 16-20 weeks pregnant3.

2. Behavior Changes

Besides the physical ones, a pregnant woman will also experience many pregnancy symptoms that affect her behavior. She will be more sleepy and not have as much energy as usual.

She might feel uncomfortable or suffer from various types of pain. Many pregnant women also experience the dreaded morning sickness. These physical symptoms will make it more difficult for mom to spend time running around and engaging in play like she normally would.

Additionally, it’s not uncommon for many pregnant mothers to have increased stress levels. With so much to do and so much to prepare for, parents can be anxious or stressed out and an observant little one will take notice of the new behavior and may internalize it to some extent.

3. Emotional Changes

Another common symptom of pregnancy for moms is mood swings which is especially true in early pregnancy when your hormones are rising drastically. Mommy might be crying or cranky from time to time. Although your toddler probably won’t understand why, they will likely be able to pick up on even subtle changes in your mood or demeanor.

4. Environmental Changes

Besides changes in their mother, they may also notice different things changing in the home. For example, maybe you started to make up the baby’s nursery or moved your toddler into a new bed in preparation for the baby to have the crib. Also, buying new baby clothes or baby gear could have your toddler wondering what is going on.

Maybe your toddler overheard you tell family members or subtly eavesdrops on conversations with your partner about baby things. They are often listening to what we say and watching what we do, even when we think they aren’t.

How Toddlers Feel About The New Baby Coming

Myths About Toddlers Sensing Pregnancy

There are many myths out there about toddlers being able to sense when someone is pregnant. DO children actually have intuition or some type of sixth sense about pregnancies or is it just an old wives tale? Here are some of those myths that you might hear from family or friends and wonder if there’s actually any truth behind it.

Myth #1: Can Toddlers Sense Pregnancy Even Before Mom?

No, this is another myth that has not been scientifically proven. If you notice your child more clingy or cuddly than usual and then find out you’re pregnant, you might think that the baby somehow knew before you.

The actual truth is that children go through phases of separation anxiety4 and stranger anxiety periodically following six months of age. Sometimes people associate the two when they are not, in fact, actually correlated5.

Myth #2: Is My Toddler Rubbing My Belly Because They Can Sense A Baby Inside?

Even though many women swear that their toddler could just knew without being told, this does not mean the toddler can sense pregnancy. The more plausible explanation is that the toddler sees that your stomach is bigger and is curious about it and simply enjoying drawing attention to it.

Myth #3: Is A Baby Standing On Its Head A Sign Of Pregnancy?

No, there is no scientific evidence that the act of a baby standing on their head means they can predict pregnancy. It is more likely than not just a coincidence that someone observed and fun thing to share with others.

Do Toddlers Understand Pregnancy?

Some toddlers might not even understand or care all that much about mom being pregnant. Many toddlers won’t fully comprehend, especially younger ones, that they have a baby brother or sister until the baby actually arrives and they get used to their new normal.

Do Babies Feel When Someone Is Pregnant

Do Toddlers Act Different When Mom Is Pregnant?

Yes. It is true that your toddler is likely to behave differently when mom is pregnant but not because toddlers sense pregnancy. As mentioned, toddlers will react certain ways in response to all the changes they are observing.

These changes might cause them to become confused or nervous and this will present itself in different ways.

Do Toddlers Get Clingy When Mom Is Pregnant?

Yes, a toddler might become more clingy when their mother is pregnant. When a toddler feels nervous or anxious they are likely to want to cling to mom to make them feel more safe and secure.

Whether they are actually worried about having a new sibling or just confused in general, either way it is common to exhibit more clinginess or separation anxiety even if they never had before.

Do Toddlers Regress When Mom Is Pregnant?

Yes. Another thing that is common to see when mom is pregnant (or after new baby arrives) is their toddler experiencing a regression.

A regression is a period of time where a child goes back to specific behaviors they use to exhibit in an earlier stage of development like when they were babies.

Some examples are sleep regression, going back to being a picky eater, or a toddler who already went through potty training now having new accidents. These regressions are typical during a big change or stressful event in their life.

Do Toddlers Get Jealous When Mom Is Pregnant?

Yes. They might feel jealousy, not of the baby per se, but if they feel mom is not giving them as much attention as usual.

Mom has got a lot going on now with preparations for baby, nursery planning, figuring out birth plans, she no longer has only that first born to give all her attention to.

Jealousy might present as anger, tearfulness, or even the child becoming more withdrawn or distant5.

If you want to know more about this topic, we prepared article based on scientific research about firstborn being jealous of the new baby.

Do Toddlers Get Clingy When Mom Is Pregnant

When Should You Tell A Toddler About A New Pregnancy?

There is no right answer to this question and it’s totally up to you. Since they might not fully comprehend the concept of pregnancy, many wait until the baby bump begins to show as this might help them understand better. Many mothers hold off telling toddler before they tell friends and family because there is a good chance they will spill the beans somehow.

How To Tell Toddler That Mom Is Pregnant?

This depends on what’s best for you and your family. Many moms attempt a sit down conversation with their partner and child. Make the explanation as simple and straightforward as you can.

Make sure to make the news sound exciting and positive because they will pick up on your tone and demeanor as well. Don’t go in with high expectations because your toddler might not really understand or might not even care all that much initially.

How Toddlers Feel About The New Baby Coming?

Toddlerhood can be a time of unpredictable emotions and moods and even tantrums. On top of that, every toddler is an individual with their own thoughts, feelings, and preferences.

With that being said, you might have a toddler who is super excited about a new baby like rubbing your belly or talking to the baby.

On the other hand, you might have one who isn’t too happy about it. They might say “no” a lot and show displeasure or anger with regards to the change.

Whatever their level of understanding may be, once that baby comes they will eventually realize they have a new little family member that is here to stay. The fact of the matter is that as time passes they will get used to it just like anything else. They will learn to love and accept their new sibling and their new normal.

How Can Toddler Sense New Baby Coming

How To Prepare Your Toddler For A New Sibling

  • Explain it to them in simple terms
  • Read children’s books about becoming a big brother or big sister so they understand their new role
  • Spend a lot of time with them because they won’t be an only child soon
  • Include them in baby decisions like the name, buying clothes, nursery colors
  • Let your toddler pick out a gift for the baby so they feel included
  • Get sibling a small present when baby arrives since baby will be getting LOTS of attention

Article By Raye Mariano, RN, BSN, BA

Raye Mariano is a Registered Nurse who worked for years as a labor and delivery nurse and mother/baby nurse. Now, as a stay-at-home mom to 3 kids, ages 4 and under, she remains passionate about all things pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting.

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.


About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *