What’s More Difficult: Going from 0 to 1, or 1 to 2?

Someone once told me that going from one to two kids is the hardest transition of all. That it is not double the work, but rather more than double the work. Having one kid will seem like a walk in the park. And any kids you add after two? Piece of cake.

This information stuck with me through the years, and I treated it as fact. When I got pregnant with #2, I decided to revisit it with a more discerning eye. Really? More than double the work? For everyone? I started asking around (if you haven’t noticed yet, I’m quite nosy), and I got different answers from different parents. Some swore that nah, second time around you have all the stuff and you know what you’re doing. The first time’s the killer. Others confirmed that yes, one to two will blow. Your. Mind. What little of it you have left at that point, anyway.

So I was intrigued when a survey* of over a thousand moms around the country popped up in my inbox. They asked all sorts of questions, but the one that caught my eye: Which transition is more difficult—the birth of a first child or the arrival of a second?

The results? About half (53%) of moms with more than one child said the adjustment to number two was more trying.

Those aren’t exactly illuminating odds, 50/50. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What proved to be the most difficult for you: 0 to 1? 1 to 2? Other?


*The survey was commissioned by Kroger’s to promote their new website ComfortsForBaby.com. In the interest of full disclosure. They’re not giving me free stuff or anything.

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  1. by Melissa

    On September 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I only have 1 but I also have a step son that is 11 (my daughter’s 2) that we get every summer for 6 weeks. . .and in my opinion even tho they are soo far apart in age when my daughters hungry he never is! He is hungry as soon as I lay her down which means I lay down. Or he has a problem that he needs me to help with when she is throwing a fit and I am trying to calm her down. So with me I’ll stick to only one! Since I know with a second one always around I’ll lose my mind! But like I said he is a step son so I am not sure if he is just getting used to having her around and is jealous but she gets jealous too when hes around since we split our attention between them niether one seem to be ok with having each other around at least not at their ages. :( hopefully it’ll be easy for you!!!

  2. by Eileen

    On September 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Having the first one was the hardest adjustment for me, the responsibility and 24/7 of it freaked me out completely. When #2 came I was much more relaxed and knew what to expect, but yes, the work of managing all of it was alot ‘more’. When #3 arrived, the other two were in pre-shool and school, the work of managing was even harder, but by then I was just more in the flow and knew that everything is a phase and things will just keep changing. With every child time speeds up, I had to remind myself to keep paying attention or I’d miss it. Having a spouse that is there 100% can make all the difference.

  3. by Berit Thorkelson

    On September 27, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Makes sense, Eileen… and I have that reliable spouse, so that’s a plus.

  4. by Lindsay

    On September 27, 2011 at 9:49 am

    For me it was the adjustment to one that was more difficult. There were certainly moments once baby number 2 arrived that were extremely stressful when both kids wanted/needed my attention at the same time but overall it was an easier transition. The one thing that made a huge difference in my world is that my daughter (the older child) wanted to help. She was limited in what she could do (they are 2.5 years apart)but what she was able to do was a huge help. Like talk to and entertain her brother in his crib while I took a shower. Or go get a diaper and wipes out of the diaper bag when I was trying to keep the baby’s blowout from getting more out of control. She was begging me for weeks to feed him and when I finally gave in after realizing the worst that would happen is that we would have a mess of yogurt to clean up it worked out great. She would feed him and I would be able to get dinner ready. It was sad to see my baby girl growing up so fast but it did make for some less stressful moments.

  5. by anti jen

    On September 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    nothing is more shocking than becoming a parent for the first time. as one (formerly irresponsible) new daddy said, with that shell-shocked look on his face: “i’ve just never had to live for anybody but myself before.”

    once you’ve made that adjustment, there’s really not a whole lot you can’t handle. it’s just less sleep and more emotional output. if you’ve got ways to re-fill those needs, you’re golden.

    you’re golden anyway!

  6. by kelly

    On September 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    definitely adding number 2. he’s almost 5 mos now and it’s getting easier, but the transition was tough. my first WAS a walk in the park, but having my second baby was more a run with lots of tripping and falling and thunderstorms, lol. We’re past all that now and we’ve got sunshine. THANK GOD!! He was worth the trouble. : )

  7. by Allison

    On September 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    For us the biggest challenge the first time around was the lack of sleep and the puking. Our son suffered from a reflux disorder which the doctors were hesitant to medicate (they didn’t have wash the clothes and carpets everyday!) It is amazing how functional you can be with so little sleep! Our son was just over 20 months when our daughter was born almost a month premature. Despite the fact that I had a c-section and the fact that our daughter was sick with jaundice for the first few months, I found the switch from one child to two to be relatively painless. My son did not suffer from jealousy and liked to help by bringing me a blanket or wipes. The challenging part began once our daughter started to move. Then you have two kids moving in opposite directions and the issue of having to share toys. It is still challenging some days, but they are the best of friends and I wouldn’t have done it any other way!

  8. by the pr mom

    On September 27, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Going from one to two was harder for me. I say this because it wasn’t like my older one instantly had a playmate. I still had to try to take care of and entertain both of them at the same time! But, as hard as it is, I am trying to savor every moment of the chaos because as we all know, they grow up so fast :(

  9. by Alice

    On September 27, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Definitely going from 1 to 2 kids. It’s hard for me to accomodate a baby’s and toddler’s needs when they “are due” at the same time. Now it’s toddler’s and preschooler’s stuff. A little better, but still I wish I had a clone to do it all. I’ve heard that having 2 very close in age is less chaotic in the long run ( like twins. Or my sis and I who are 1 year apart) because at first it might be more work but you go through the phases just once (like potty training).

  10. by Manal

    On September 27, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I have 2 and am expecting my 3rd any day now. I can understand why it is a 50/50 response, because they are both hard but in very different ways so it depends on how you look at it.

    For me, going from 0 to 1 was a harder adjustment. Looking back, I don’t think it actually IS harder, but it definitely felt that way. Going from no kids to 1 is such a shock to your life and can be so overwhelming. Where you were responsible only for yourself, you are suddenly responsible for this tiny little being and the adjustment to your lifestyle overall can be really hard. Not to mention the lack of sleep.

    Going from 1 to 2 was easier for me. Your firstborn keeps you busy and you don’t have time to wallow in the adjustment. You are already used to the diapers, naps, tantrums, discipline, etc. and it is just more of the same. But, it is MORE. There is no downtime. Someone always needs something and time for yourself becomes almost impossible.

    I am curious how going from 2 to 3 feels! My husband and I will be outnumbered for the first time! Now that could be tough. :-)

  11. by Jane

    On September 28, 2011 at 1:10 am

    I have a feeling that a lot is dependant on the child. Children are all so different. If your first child is more demanding then the first transition will be the toughest but if your second is the least settled then that transition will be tough.

    For what it is worth my transition from zero to one was a doozy (my child was eventually diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome) so much so that I was living in fear during pregnancy number two. Fortunately she was in the easiest of babies. You know the one those smug parents have, that they can take to work and who gurgles or sleeps happily by their desk!

    Don’t worry I had already had my comeuppance so I wasn’t being smug,just really really grateful.

  12. by Lauda

    On September 28, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I went from 1 to 3…. (had twins on my 2nd pregnancy). But going from
    0-1…. A huge adjustment… Getting used to your life being all about the baby…. Then going to 3 is lots of work but you know what’s next to come and you know it doesnt last forever (nites/bottles etc)

  13. by Berit Thorkelson

    On September 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I am LOVING reading these varied responses…

  14. by Diane

    On November 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    All i know i I enjoy my babys new stages but I hte to see them get older. I ish they would stay little forever. Its selfish of me but I so also look foward to them becoming a person and living through life challenges.