Some of the most common questions I get asked by parents with one child is “When is the best time to have a second baby?” “What’s the ideal age gap?” and “Is it better to have two children close together or with a bigger gap between?”. As a Mum of two with a reasonable age gap of 3 and a half years between my two daughters, the choice is obviously quite a personal one, very much depending on your family circumstances. It is, to some extent, a little out of your control too, as conceiving at a set time is far from an exact science!
There are however pros and cons of having both small and large age gaps between your children, however for me, the thought of having 2 under two was enough to make me check my birth control! There is however no perfect time to have your second child.
Here are some of the reasons I chose to have a longer age gap between my children.
- Allowing my body to recover – I had quite a traumatic birth and labour experience with my first daughter, and wanted to get to the point where I felt both physically and mentally ready to have another child. Already struggling with some of the challenges of exclusively breastfeeding and sleep deprivation, the thought of adding another pregnancy and morning sickness into the mix was not high on my agenda. I wanted to get back to feeling like me, and part of that came with my baby growing up and becoming less dependent on me as she did so.
- Financial Implications – The cost of a second child was also a big factor for us when deciding when to have a second. We wanted to ensure that my eldest would have started full time education by the end of my maternity leave, meaning that when I returned to work, we didn’t have to fork out for two lots of childcare costs simultaneously. Childcare can be a significant expense, so it is definitely worth considering what impact this will have on your finances if you intend to have a closer age gap.
- Older child are more self-sufficient – When my youngest was born, my eldest was already out of diapers, fully potty trained and sleeping through the night, meaning she was far more self-sufficient and able to manage without my undivided attention if I was breastfeeding or comforting her sister when she cried. This also helped in terms of reducing jealousy and sibling rivalry, so one less thing to worry about!
- Eldest child can help – My eldest was actually really useful to have around helping when the baby arrived, particularly after a c-section where my movement and flexibility was somewhat limited. She would pass me diapers and wipes & help me choose outfits for her sister, which was also a great way to help her feel involved and appreciated upon the arrival of her sibling.
- Enjoy one on one time with my child – Waiting till my eldest was 3 before her sister arrived on the scene meant that I got to experience all of the major milestones with my first born and give her my undivided attention. I wanted to have that time with my eldest before I had to be shared with someone else!
- Friendships – For me, the 3.5 year age gap is big enough to have the benefits outlined above, but close enough that they can still have a close bond and friendship as they grow up. Whether it will stay that way when they are teenagers is yet to be determined, but for now, despite the odd bicker here and there, they get on really well. It’s a lovely sight to see.
What is the age gap between your children? Do you think there is an ideal time to have another baby?