Going from no children to one vs. one child to two — Which is tougher?

05/22/2008 at 07:50 AM ET

Stefanirossdaleflynet There are plenty of familiar faces at CBB who are about to navigate the unchartered territory of ‘mom and dad to two.’  Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, parents to Kingston, who turns 2-years-old next week, expect a delivery surprise this summer, Fred Savage and wife Jennifer Stone Savage, parents to 21-month-old Oliver, expect a delivery surprise of their own at any time, while Adam Sandler just announced that his wife Jackie is 3 Β½-months pregnant with their second child.


If you are expecting your second child right now, you probably have been warned repeatedly about how much more complicated your life is about to become.  "Oh, you thought one was difficult, just wait until you have two!" has probably become a familiar, and perhaps unwelcome, refrain.  Hopefully you’ve also encountered at least a few friends along the way who found going from no kids to one a harder leap to make than going from one to two — or from four to six, if you’re the Jolie-Pitts

Either way, we at CBB have found ourselves wondering lately which transition is the easier of the two.  And should Gwen and Gavin or Fred and Jennifer find themselves feeling apprehensive about their upcoming arrivals, wondering what it means for their families on the whole, at least they can turn to their fellow celebrity parents for words of wisdom.

Click ‘continue reading’ for more, including a poll where you can let us know what your experience was.

Stillerfamilywireimage Ben Stiller, who with wife Christine Taylor has two children — Ella, 6 and Quinlin, 2 Β½ — has said that the addition of their son in 2005 meant that "there is a lot more craziness all the time" and "definitely less sleep."  Brooke Burke, who recently welcomed son Shaya, 11-weeks, with fiancΓ© David Charvet, seems to share the sentiment.  In her exclusive interview with CBB, she said that (pre-Shaya, at least) going from a mom of one (to 8-year-old Neriah) to a mom of two (to 6-year-old Sierra) "was the most challenging" transition she’s had to make as a parent.  Says Brooke,

[Neriah] traveled around the world with me with ‘Wild On…,’ I took her everywhere, I wore her. She was just a really easy baby. Then when I brought my second baby into the mix, I kind of needed to unpack my bags, stay home … introduce a more structured type of rearing, because you can’t do the same thing with two that you did with one.

Going from no children to one child often means a disrupted sleep schedule, adjusting to the concept of meeting somebody else’s needs before your own, drastically reduced ‘me’ time and possibly putting a career on hold, if not saying goodbye to said career altogether.  Factor in the anxiety, the nerves and the stress of caring for a baby — especially if you don’t have much experience with newborns — and it’s easy to see why the transition from no kids to one can be tough for some.  That said, eventually sleep does return to your life, a routine is established and that fragile, crying, pooping thing that has left you so unnerved turns into a strong and sturdy, talking, potty-trained thing (that may still leave you feeling unnerved… but you get the point).

Going from one child to two, on the other hand, means attention that is permanently divided.  The schedule you carefully crafted over the previous year or two with your firstborn?  Toss it out the window.  And don’t forget, depending on the age gap there’s now double the diapers to change, meals to make, bodies to bathe and bedtime stories to read.  It is a daunting task.  But consider this:  The nerves, the self-doubt and the questions about whether you are truly capable of being responsible for another living being have been mooted because you’ve already proven you’re up to the task.  You also have the advantage of hindsight.  You know that no matter how tumultuous those first few weeks and months are, the sleep deprivation does end, your social life is not over, you will have some alone time with your spouse again, and normalcy — eventually — will return to your home.

Photo of the Stefani-Rossdales by Flynet; Photo of the Stone-Savages by Splash News; Photo of the Taylor-Stillers by Wire Image.

We’re curious about what your experience has been.  Did you find life with one baby to be easier or more difficult than life with two (or more)?   

To see the results without taking the poll, click here.


Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 0 comments

SM on

I voted “going from none to one.” Having that first child radically alters your lifestyle, particularly as they get to be a mobile baby. Newborns are portable, they like to ride in a carrier and stay where you put them. But once the baby is mobile, it’s harder to go to a friend’s house, go out to dinner, run errands, etc.

Going from one-two kids is very different. The new baby seems like a breeze to care for — the challenge is your toddler who gets into everything and wants your attention while you’re nursing. (Or wakes the baby up when they’re napping. Or is not gentle enough with the new baby. Etc.)

Going from two-three kids is an entirely different set of challenges. Again, the new baby seems like a breeze, and when you only have to take care of the new baby (say, if daddy takes the older kids to the park) — you feel like you have so much freedom. You can get so much accomplished with *only* one baby! πŸ™‚ It’s a very different perspective.

*AJ* on

I personally felt mind numbed because I had to deliver my second daughter without my husband there with me (Iraq). He didn’t even get to hold her until she was 5 months old. So it was an interesting experience but unlike my first one I was alot more relaxed and layed back and had a feel for it. I think that helps knowing the things and being more prepared for a newborn because I had done it once. Being a first time mom and being away from family I was scared and anxious and I think it rubbed off on the baby! My second daughter is also a more layed back and relaxed child and again I think it has to do with my attitude and me feeling relaxed.

Delilah on

I voted for going from one to two.
Everything doubles in your life.

Granted you have the experience of having gone through it once.
But in addition to a toddler, preschooler, grade schooler..whichever.
You’ve now got a new baby as well.
Of course its all worth it because you get twice the love as well, but whew! it’s a lot harder.

Liesl78 on

I voted they’re both difficult in different ways. Even so I haven’t had a second child yet, and most likely will not have another. The first child is a challenge in many ways, and having a second child, while easier, you still have to divide the attention even before you have the baby. I had a really hard time during my pregnancy, and while my body has forgotten, I made sure to write it down in details so I would not forget it. πŸ˜‰

Amanda on

It is always harder to adjust from going from none to one…You don’t realize how much earlier you have to start getting ready then before when you could just jump in the car and go.

From 1-2 kids it takes more patients but it really depends on how close your children are. My daughter and my son are 363 days apart…that meant 2 babies crying for mommy and wanting their milk.

From 2-3 I think once you get 2 down anymore after that just is a routine. We are expecting our 3rd child in Dec. 08 so I will have 3 kids under 3.

Sarah on

I voted for going from 1 to 2 but that may have been easier than my situation. We just went from having 1 kid to 4 kids! We have 3 month old triplets and that has completely changed everything. It’s so hard to get out of the house with all of them because you’re constantly climbing in and out of the van with carseats. It’s tough but I am grateful that I had only one child first so I know what I’m doing.

Deanna on

For me, going from two to three kids was the hardest. When we only had two, my husband and I could each keep tabs on one kid if needed. After the third one arrived, it seemed like one of the older boys always managed to find a little more trouble! πŸ™‚

Jaimi on

I voted for going from 1 to 2. I am pregnant with my 2nd child and juggling being tired and moody and still being a great mom to my 3 year old daughter is tough. Of course, since my daughter is 3, when the baby comes it will probably be a little easier than if she were 1 or 2, so that’s good.

Beth on

I voted for none to one because, like posted previously, you have no idea what you are getting into. When we went from 1 to 2 it was easier…when we went from 2 to 3, it was even easier still. When we went from 3 to 5 with our twins 9 months ago I thought “Oh, this is it. This is when it’s gonna get tough!” I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised. I feel so unstressed. The big kids all play together (3, 5, & 7) & the twins are such good babies that it makes my job so fun. Een going out to dinner or to paarties with the whole crew is easier. I can’t really explain why though, but I’m not going to question a good thing!!!

Mumof2 on

For us it was definitely having the first… we had a complicated pregnancy which led to a premature birth and a very difficult newbor, infant, toddler. Throwing the second one in was easier when he was an infant, it has only gotten harder now that he (our youngest) is heading towards three and our older son is now six, being boys’, their “play” is always loud,bouncy, energetic and very, very physical! πŸ™‚

UggaMugga.com on

Going from none to one was expected and exciting all being brand new. But going from one to two…I didn’t know if my husband and I would make it through. You need to learn to share time, multi-task like never before and have eyes surrounding your entire head.

I think that if you’re in a traditional household such as mine where I’m a stay-at-home mom, then the husband really needs to step up when #2 comes along. Luckily, I’m married to a guy who did without even being asked…but not all of my friends are as lucky and they are so tired all of the time.

We’re now expecting #3 and I hear that transition will be a piece of cake since we’ve already learned to share our time with our children and how to watch multiple kids at once. I hope everyone is right!

jk on

Absolutely going from one to two. My boys are 14 months apart (one is 2 and one is 3) and my husband and I have never been more exhausted. My best friend has 1 boy (3 yrs old) and she’s always amazed at the chaos at my house. She used to think it was just my family until she met more moms with 2+ kids and realized that life with 1 is absolutely different than life with 2+.

hannah on

I found going from none to one was difficult, but going from one to two was a piece of cake. You know what to expect the second time around, so it’s less stressful and you’re not freaking out about every little thing.

patricia on

I only have 1 and it was extremely difficult for the first 3 months. I had no experience with babies (last time I’d held a baby I was 15, now I’m 39!).

I think having a 2nd baby would be much easier, I know what I’m doing now and I wouldn’t be so scared and anxious the second time around.

Angie on

I also voted from none to one because you don’t know what to expect. You ask for advice and are given advice but nobody can really tell you until you experience it for yourself. When I had my second child (3 years apart) it really wasn’t a change at all. I had my 3rd child two years after my second and let me tell you I think that was the biggest change for me. That was probably one of the biggest adjustments for me. With two I was still able to keep up with everything from picking up the house to keeping up with the laundry and everything it seems as soon as I had the 3rd one I didn’t have time to keep up with everything. Even now my kids are 15, 12 and 10 and I still can’t seem the time to get everything done.

Michele on

I read once that none to one is hardest for moms, and one to two is hardest for dads. The reason being is that with the first, the moms do the most adjusting. With the second, more of dads’ time is required and it’s more of an adjustment for him. Mom’s already been in the kid zone for a while.

I’ve never experienced either – we had twins our first time out, and will not be going from two to three.

Christine on

I couldn’t vote. I went from 0 to 2 when our twins were born. It was really hard for the first 2 years, but now they’re 3.5, its not too bad.

leslie on

i voted from 1 to 2 b/c it is constant and never stops with 2. someone is always saying mom and/or needs your attention or time. it is also harder to find a sitter with two than it is for one…or taking one is easier than taking two (costs less money too πŸ™‚
when you are pregnant or just bringing home your first baby of course you dont know what you are doing, but it comes quickly and you can sit when the baby naps (when there is 2 there is no rest)and sometimes just plain IGNORANCE is bliss.
I am grateful for the children I have and I am grateful for the age difference, daughter age 8 and son 20 months, but when having children 1+1 does NOT equal 2.

love this site!

SewCalMom on

From none to one was incredibly difficult for us. Unspeakably! I was terrified about having #2 and really spent some years just finally enjoying #1 after getting past those tough early months, so they’re nearly 4 years a part. In the end, it was SO much easier SO SO SO much! Of course it gets hard later on when baby can get into #1s toys, etc. Sibling stuff, but the baby stuff was a piece of cake.

mommyshell on

For me it’s been going from 1 to 2. The lack of sleep has left me with barely any patience…which I think is the key to being a good parent! It’s certainly an adjustment juggling the demands of a preschooler and an infant along with all the typical mom/wife jobs and working part-time. BUT, when my oldest says he loves me to forever and back or my baby smiles from ear to ear…it’s all worth it! I might even want to throw in a 3rd to see what that would be like πŸ™‚

Pogue Mahone on

We have 11 kids, aged 1 year to turning 19 in the fall. Actually I never found it hard going from 1 to 2 kids(even though they’re only 13 months apart,and at one time we even had 4 under 4 years!) but what *I* personally found the most difficult(and alot of our friends said the same thing!) was going from 2 to 3 for some reason, but after that there was no difference; at that point it’s just one more….. πŸ™‚

Kat on

I completely agree with Leslie. With one, you have lots of time to just focus on the baby and learn how to become a parent. My second daughter came around when my first was 19 months and it was (and is, even though the baby is almost a year old) hard to juggle the two. Sure, I knew how to take care of a baby, but I basically had two babies with very different needs that needed to be cared for all the time.

Amy F on

The first two months were hardest with baby #1. I was so clueless about how to take care of him. With #2 (mine are 24 months apart), the baby was easy was the toddler was hard. He tormented his baby brother constantly and it was so stressful. It didn’t really get better until they were 3.5 and 1.5 and could play the same games.

Kat on

I completely agree with Leslie. With one, you have lots of time to just focus on the baby and learn how to become a parent. My second daughter came around when my first was 19 months and it was (and is, even though the baby is almost a year old) hard to juggle the two. Sure, I knew how to take care of a baby, but I basically had two babies with very different needs that needed to be cared for all the time.

SK on

To the editors: I am expecting my 2nd child in September, and recall that Melissa Joan Hart recommended a book about the subject in one of her blogs. Would you still be able to provide the title? Thank you!

jeanne on

I have six kids and found the second one much easier than the first as i knew what I was doing and how fast the time went. The last birth was identical twins of which I was more scared and is much much much harder than one baby. The jolie-pitts having 5 &6 as twins-as did I -will be a real test on their realationship

Nicole on

I have two girls 18mos. apart. I vote for none to one…I have babysat my WHOLE life and I am very comfortable around babies/children, but with my own it was so new. I was the mom, I wasn’t a temporary situation like babysitting so I found that to be unnerving as everything took twice as long to accomplish, even showering. From 1 to 2, it was just a continuation of what had started 18mos. prior! My husband and I swear that we have not slept since 2004. We are debating a 3rd, my friend wanted to warn me though, she said going from 2-3 throws of the dynamics of it all (at least for her), you become outnumbered and it is a bit harder to manage…we’ll see when we get to that point!

AllAngela on

I’m going to venture to say that going from no kids to one kid is the hardest. I had my first child in August and the first two months were SO difficult. She was a good, easy baby, but I was completely overwhelmed. I work full-time from home and found it so difficult to balance being a mommy with being an employee. What made it super difficult was that I thought I could do it on my own and refused all help. I will never do that again. It’s been especially difficult because we live in the Northeast and our families live in the Midwest.

My hubby and I are planning for baby #2 next year and I will definitely take the help next time. I think it will be so much easier because I will know what to expect the next time around. I love my daughter and love being a mommy, but it’s definitely a role I had to grow into at age 32. And I am looking forward to baby #2 whenever he or she decides to grace us with his or her presence!

Sally C on

I only have 1, and it’s been a HUGE adjustment. In fact, I am in the process of getting treated for PPD.

I’m actually terrified of having #2 – just because of this dilemma.

stacy on

I think it’s harder to go from two to three. Two parents, three kids you are out numbered. Giving equal attention gets harder and harder.

Lanna on

1-2 was harder for me, at least so far. I was a homebody before we even got pregnant with our first, and wanted to be a sahm anyway – our lifestyle didn’t change much other than it became a bit more child-centric. Got into a decent groove with the first, and got knocked up again. Threw us for a loop. No more napping when the kid’s napping – they tag-teamed me more than I care to remember (i.e. one would take a morning nap, would wake up as I got the other one down, etc. all freakin’ day). I’m a little afraid of the third that’s due any day now and how few showers and sleep that’ll mean for me, but we’ll survive. Hopefully. πŸ˜‰

tres hijos on

None to one and one to two are both difficult, especially if your kids are closely spaced. Two to three was when I finally felt like it was easy!

Christine on

Going from 1-2 was the most difficult transition for me.
For a few reasons; they are fairly close in age (18mos apart), my 2nd was a November baby so I had a long Canadian winter to get through with a newborn and a toddler, I had a traumatic delivery which likely contributed to my PPD.

Going from 2-3 was by far the easiest which totally surprised me as that’s the one that outnumbered us. Three is a breeze! lol!

Amanda on

Depends on the baby. My first baby was hard but only because of lack of experience. My second slept all the time and never cried. My third was my first boy so that was a HUGE adjustment. My fourth cried constantly, so of course I’m inclined to say 2-3 or 3-4 is hardest. But I can see if I’d had the same kids in a different order I might feel differently. I do agree with the being out#ed theory.

Kat on

okay, having 3 kids, I think the easiest is AFTER you have the first two and you have the third….. you know what you’re doing with a baby (pretty much), the older two entertain each other and, as baby gets older, take turns entertaining baby, so it’s easier to get one on one time with everyone.

Now, between going from none to one or one to two, I have to say, it’s different for everyone, but for me, it was much harder going from none to one.

There’s so much you don’t know, and you’re always second guessing yourself on your instincts.

With the second one, there are issues, of course, but that’s with EVERY baby… there just isn’t that horrible anxiety and nervousness of what to do when you bring baby home… the fear of being alone with baby the first time.

So it may not even be that it was easier as much as it was that I was more confident.

And a lot has to do with how you approach it. My first two are 18mo and 8days apart. From the moment I knew that I was pg for sure (3mo along), I started just casually talking about the new baby… on our walks, when we were playing, just random talks about how we loved him and this was going to be HIS baby.

So when his brother came home, he could have cared LESS about me coming home… he jumped up on the chair and just reached out and gently started petting the blanket on his brother and then his brother’s foot. He was enamored. I let him help as much as an 18mo old can from the get go (helping to hold baby’s head to nurse and later, helping hold the bottle) And I just made sure that at least one time every day, I spent 3 10 minute spans with JUST me and my first… whether baby was napping or my husband took him for a bit… whatever.

Heck, even if the baby was sleeping on me, if I could read him a story, it was just as good… as long as he had my full attention.

And knowing what to expect made it so wonderful.