What Age Gap is Best Between First and Second Child

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A pregnant woman

There are parents who have just been through a pregnancy and their child is simply growing up when the thought of the next child starts to seem interesting. Having grown up in joint families or having siblings of your own can further fuel the thought of having another child in the minds of new parents. Almost all parents want that their child should have a companion just like they did. But at the same time, you might be tensed and worried about whether it is too early or too late to have a second child. Many parents wonder about the ideal age gap between siblings.

What is the Best Age Gap Between Siblings?

Age gaps between siblings can vary from simply a year to about 5 years or more. Each gap has its own share of benefits and challenges.

1. Small Age Gap

A small age gap is defined as that of a duration of a year or less than a year.

A pregnant woman and her son

Pros

  • Your children will practically grow up together with each other, provided you have enough energy to cope with the demands of both the children.
  • The years of changing soiled diapers and listening to whiny babies will extend from a few months to a year. However, this would all end completely in a short time leaving you to come back to normal for the good.
  • Your older child will start feeling like an elder sibling and proceed to do things by himself. The younger sibling might learn a few things quickly by observing his elder brother.
  • Since both will nearly grow together, they will learn to share things amongst themselves. There might be fights or so, but a strong bond of friendship will develop between them. They will end up having a readymade partner to play games of their own age with.
  • With the right kind of parenting, the short difference in their age won’t give rise to a feeling of jealousy or rivalry between them.
  • Once they grow up to a reasonable age where you don’t have to worry about their needs, you can start focusing on your career and other life choices.

Cons

  • Giving birth to a second child within a year after the first one is born can be extremely tough. The initial years will be absolutely filled with the same routine of waking up in the middle of the night, wading through soiled diapers, breastfeeding and preparing formulas, washing an endless supply of dirty linen and so on.
  • The chances to enjoy watching your babies grow up will be fewer since you will always be occupied with one child or the other. This can easily get quite exhausting for both the parents.
  • The sleep schedules of your elder child might not be regularized by the time the younger child is born. This could then result in clashes as both children might require attention in different ways at the same time.
  • Having two children altogether can create quite a pressure on your finances since this calls for an extra crib, an extra pram, seats, all of which could be reused if the second child is born after a few years.
  • Since both the children will be growing up simultaneously, the expenses to meet their demands and the money required for their education will all take place at the same time and it can throw your financial planning out of gear.

2. Medium Age Gap

A medium age gap is defined as that of a 2 year age gap between babies and at most a 3-year gap.

A pregnant woman with her first child

Pros

  • Having a decent age gap of 2-3 years between each kid allows you to enjoy the growth of each child.
  • The elder child will be on his way to getting independent as well. He would be done with his share of soiled diapers and nappies and might be able to communicate his needs in a better manner. This could help you in looking ahead to another set of sleepless nights and dirty diapers with some satisfaction.
  • Your first child would be extremely excited to get in the role of the elder sibling. He might even take the responsibility of looking after his younger sibling and keeping him engaged, while you take care of other things.
  • With a gap of 2-3 years, your body would have recovered from the stress of pregnancy, delivery, and feeding the child. In 2-3 years, you will be back to your healthy state.
  • During the day, when your first child will go to preschool or so, you can focus on the second child, and schedule activities for the both of you.

Cons

  • With a 2-3 year age difference, there will be a few years before the siblings could play with each other.
  • Over the years, the age gap can create problems. The younger child might want to join the elder one and learn from him. But the elder one may refuse to play with the younger one, as he will lack the skill to even understand the game. This can lead to fights, shouting matches, and endless crying. These differences even out as they move closer to the teens.
  • As the life of the elder child changes, the younger one might inevitably become a part of it as well. For example, if you have to feed your younger child, and at the same time, the elder one has to go to the school, you will be in doubt. You might end up taking your toddler around everywhere, and he might not always get the rest he needs.
  • Taking your toddler everywhere might not even be always possible. You might need to hire a nanny or employ daycare for your elder child, which could eat into your expenses.

3. Large Age Gap

A large age gap is defined as that of a 5 year age gap between siblings or even more.

Elder brother taking care of his cute little sister

Pros

  • You get the chance to experience the full growth of your child until he reaches school. This allows you to fully focus on each child until they turn independent.
  • Having handled the cycle of an entire pregnancy, delivery, and taking care of toddlers, you will be calm and relax to handle the second pregnancy in a better manner. You will have enough energy and loads of time on hand to be able to focus on the new baby completely.
  • The elder sibling will be more than happy to help you out with taking care of the baby. It’s best to not load him with the responsibilities of a parent but just to allow the dynamic of an elder sibling with the younger child develops by itself.

Cons

  • A 5 year age gap is a large one, putting each child in a completely different stage of their development. This might result in both of them not having much in common or much to share.
  • Schooling will be a different thing for both of them since one might still be in school while the other makes his way to college.
  • Each child will make his own set of demands to you and it will be a tightrope to not let them feel like one being preferred over the other. The younger one might want to play when you will be busy helping the elder one with schoolwork.
  • In your heart, you may feel ready to have the next baby. But the body might take its time in getting pregnant and you might have to try harder than usual. There are certain risks involved as well with a large gap in pregnancy.
  • The groups you made during your first child’s toddler days might not exist anymore. Therefore, for the younger child, you might have to start from scratch and get used to the novelty all over again.
  • While taking care of your first child, you might have made the shift to working part-time or socializing with your friends again and getting in touch with them. Choosing another child would mean taking a break from work yet again, and you may not be ready to indulge in the baby caring attitude again. Social conversations too might revolve around future plans of growing kids, while you may still be engrossed in choosing the right kind of diaper for your newest child.

When to Have Another Child – Deciding Factors

Here are some things that you should consider before you decide to have a second child:

1. Age and Fertility

Age and fertility are inversely proportional to each other. Therefore, when making a decision to have a second child, think about your age and the how you will get pregnant.

2. Financial Condition

A smaller gap between consecutive children can put quite a load on the finances in the present as well as in future. A larger gap helps space out the expenses in a better way.

3. Age Gap

The difference in age between siblings has its own share of pros and cons. Take them into account while making a decision of when to have your second baby.

4. Babies within a Short Period of Time

This allows you to get done with the infantile care of both children in a comparatively short period and helps you pursue your career goals thereafter. But it can get quite taxing physically and emotionally.

5. Babies with a Larger Age Gap

This allows you to have time for each child in a focused manner, but at the cost of your career and a huge change in social life yet again.

6. Emotional Preparation

Of course, you will plan everything, you will be rational and think about finances when planning for a second child. But it is extremely important to know whether you really want a second child and are you prepared to handle it all. More than anything else, being emotionally ready is necessary.

Every family handles the choice of a second child in a different manner. No choice is better than the other, except for health issues. Choose what works best for you and take the leap in expanding your family.

Also Read: Getting Pregnant in Your 30s

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