What Should Be the Ideal Age Gap Between the First and Second Child?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sanjana Sainani (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)
View more Obstetrician and GynaecologistOur Panel of Experts
At FirstCry Parenting, our aim is to give you the most elevant, accurate and up to date information.

Every article that we publish, confirms to stringent guidelines & involves several levels of reviews, both from our Editorial team & Experts. We welcome your suggestions in making this platform more useful for all our users. Write in to us at parenting.care@firstcry.com
What Age Gap Is Best Between First and Second Child

Last Updated on

It’s not new that most parents think of having a second child when their firstborn is still growing up. The joint family culture can further fuel the thought in the minds of new parents of having another child. Almost all parents who have had at least one sibling want a sibling for their child. But, they may also be stressed thinking about whether it is too early or too late to have a second child. If you have this question in your mind too, then this article is for you. Read on to know about the pros and cons of keeping a certain age gap between two kids.

What Is the Best Age Gap Between Siblings?

Age gaps between siblings can vary from a year to about 5 years or more. Each gap has its own share of benefits and challenges. We have broken this article in three age-gap categories – small, medium and large to provide better insights into each group. The pros and cons given below should help you decide how soon or late you want to have your second child.

1. Small Age Gap

An age gap of 18 months or less is considered a small age gap. In this case, the second child is conceived within a few months after the birth of the first child.

A pregnant woman and her son

Pros

  • Your children will practically grow up together, 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, allowing you to come back to your normal life.
  • 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 the elder child.
  • Since both the children will nearly grow together, they will learn to share things with each other. There might be fights also, but a strong bond of friendship will develop between them. They will have a partner to play with most part of their childhood.
  • 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, you might get to focus on your career and make other choices in your life as you might not have to worry about their needs.

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, washing dirty linen endlessly, etc.
  • The opportunities you will get to enjoy watching your babies grow up will be fewer since you will always be occupied with one child or the other. This can get quite exhausting for both the parents.
  • The sleep schedules of your elder child might not be regularised 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 one after the other can strain your finances since it 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 your budget may fly out the window.

2. Medium Age Gap

A medium age gap is around 2 and 3 years. Most parents prefer having a medium age gap between two children as it allows the mother to recover completely.

A pregnant woman with her first child

Pros

  • Having a decent age gap of 2-3 years between each kid will allow you to focus on your child and be involved in the growth years of each child.
  • By the time you have the second baby, your elder one will start becoming independent – he will start eating or playing on his own. You will be done with his share of soiled diapers and nappies too. Your elder baby would also be able to communicate his needs in a better manner. This will provide quite some relief, especially when you are looking after the second child.
  • 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 your first pregnancy. In 2-3 years, your body will be healthy and ready to give birth again. Nursing the second child will also become convenient as you will have weaned your firstborn onto solid foods.
  • You will be able to schedule your infant’s activities better when your toddler starts going to preschool.

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 understand the game. This can lead to arguments, fights, and endless crying. These differences even out in their teenage years.
  • As the life of the elder child changes, the younger one might inevitably become a part of it. For example, if you have to feed your younger child, and at the same time, need to drop the elder one to school, you might have to take your toddler along. If this happens way too often, the younger child might not always get the rest he needs.
  • At times, it might not be possible for you to leave the younger baby. You might then need to hire a nanny or employ daycare for your elder child, which could eat into your expenses.

3. Large Age Gap

An age gap of 5 years and above is defined as a large age gap. This age gap is preferred mostly by young parents as age and health play an important role when it comes to having a child. However, with proper planning and with the help of artificial insemination, couples who have been diagnosed with declining fertility may also choose to have a large age gap between their first and the second born. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of keeping a large age gap between two children.

Elder brother taking care of his cute little sister

Pros

  • You get the chance to experience complete growth and development of both your children until they reach school. This allows you to focus on each child until they turn independent.
  • Having handled one entire cycle of pregnancy, delivery, and caring for your firstborn, you will be able 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 take care of the baby. It’s best not to load him with the responsibilities of a parent, but you must allow the dynamics of an elder sibling with the younger one develop by itself.

Cons

  • A large age gap puts each child in a completely different stage of their development. This might result in both of them not having much in common.
  • 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 making them feel they are equally important will be a tightrope walk. The younger one might want to play when you are busy helping the elder one with schoolwork. Or the elder one might need your help to complete his homework when you are occupied with the younger one.
  • In your heart, you may feel ready to have the next baby. But, your body might take its time to get pregnant. There are certain medical risks involved as well with a large gap between pregnancies.
  • The groups you made when your first child was a toddler 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 socialising with your friends. Choosing another child would mean taking a break from work and socialising yet again. The social conversations might also revolve around future plans for the growing kids, while you are still engrossed in choosing the right kind of diaper for your newborn.

When to Have Another Child – Deciding Factors

Here are some factors you should consider before you decide to have your second child:

1. Age and Fertility

Age and fertility are inversely proportional to each other. The more the couples’ age, the less fertile they become. Therefore, when making a decision to have a second child, think about these two factors.

2. Previous Delivery

The time from the previous delivery is also a deciding factor in some cases. Women who have had a normal delivery prior to conceiving for the second time can have a short gap, whereas, for those who have had a cesarean, medium age gap is a must.

3. Financial Condition

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

4. Age Gap

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

5. 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. When your kids have grown up, you are then free to pursue other goals. But, it can get quite taxing physically and emotionally, while raising the babies.

6. 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 social life.

7. Emotional Preparation

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

References – 

Also Read: Getting Pregnant in Your 30s

Previous articleBest 5 Homemade Vegetable Purees for Baby
Next articleMeasles (Rubeola) in Babies