Five years ago, if anyone told me that their family plan included having two children less than two years apart, I assumed they were delusional. Yet that’s the situation I unexpectedly found myself in: despite taking the pill religiously, I got pregnant with my second child when my first was nine-months-old.
The nurse who ran my mommy and me class had advised me that the best time to have a second child is after your first born turns two years old. (Doctors, too, generally recommend waiting to have another baby at least 18 to 23 months after the birth of the previous child, and making sure that health concerns are absent.) But I've found that you can’t rely solely on a health practitioner’s advice to determine the best time to have another baby. When it comes to all things child-related — including pregnancy — nature doesn't always bow to conventional wisdom.
As I learned shortly after, and as Circle of Moms members reminded me, my children benefit from having a sibling, no matter how big or small the age difference is. So go ahead and determine your family’s goals when trying to pinpoint the best time to have another baby. But as Circle of Moms members reveal, the best laid plans often remain just that: plans.
The Benefits of Closely Spaced Siblings
Moms who recommend having siblings close together feel that it provides great benefits: closely-spaced siblings have built-in playmates and can share the same toys. The closeness also can help to reduce conflict, says Anna B., who had three kids within 33 months. Her older child registered no jealousy when she brought a new baby home, and she "has no memory of being an only child."
Leslie W. also appreciates that she didn't have to “prepare” her daughter for the new baby. “To her, the new baby was just the way of life; me nursing the baby, no big deal to her. If I had an older toddler, I would have had to explain everything to her ... There was also no jealousy, since she didn't know any different.”
Leslie's son and daughter, born 15 months apart, are becoming close friends: “My daughter loves her baby brother. She helps me a lot, and changing two babies in diapers is no big deal. I've been telling all my friends that if they wish to have another baby, a 15 to 18 month gap is the best because your kids will be close and care for each other, play together, etc."
Heather C., explains the developmental reasons for the easy tranisitons these moms report: “Once your eldest child is two years old, they have a greater sense of self and are likely to be more affected by jealousy and sibling rivalry than a younger child who hasn't quite figured things out yet ... it's less likely they'll enjoy things together and be so close, as their interests and ages would be so different.”
The Benefits of Widely Spaced Siblings
On the other hand, moms whose children are more widely spaced say it gives parents the chance to catch their breath in between, and the opportunity to focus on each child's development as an individual. As Heather C. notes, “With a bigger gap, you get more quality time with the new baby (especially if the eldest is at school)."
The older child can even be a built-in babysitter, adds Jessica C. Her son "adores" his big sister, who is nine years older.
Chelsy S. simply appreciates that she won’t have two children in diapers at the same time, because her three and a half-year-old daughter will be potty trained by the time the second baby arrives.
The Benefits of Not Worrying About It
I have to agree with Circle of Moms members Dana D. and Kim B., who feel that there’s really no perfect gap for the spacing of children. "There are advantages to having siblings closely spaced together as well as farther apart," points out Dana, and Kim feels that “kids will benefit in different ways no matter what the age gap, so it's is really about when you and your husband are ready for another — or are surprised with one."
Kim's last point is a great one to end on. As my own story shows, no matter what you plan, life can throw you pregnancy and fertility curveballs. Kristin E.'s first child was just slightly older than three when her second finally came along. “We weren't planning on having that big of a gap, but it took me a bit longer to get pregnant than I was hoping,” she shares. Sharon R. concurs: “Sometimes we cannot choose the age difference, as you never know [how easy or difficult it will be to get pregnant."
Only you can judge when you think the time is right for you to have another child. And even when you think you and your partner are in sync about when you want another baby, your body may not cooperate. Which is why I believe, as community member Amanda D. does, that whether close together or spaced apart, “children are a blessing, and blessings always work out for the best.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.