Growing Your Family

Ideal age gaps between siblings?

If you’re planning on having multiple children, you might be thinking about the ideal age gaps between siblings to enjoy a harmonious family life. But, is there such a thing?

There are no rules to planning a family, and different families are as unique as the personalities that make them up. However, there are some considerations you may want to think about when it comes to planning your family.

Toddler on kitchen counter with family in background cropped

Your Health and Wellbeing

There are a few factors to think about when it comes to assessing your health and wellbeing. If you’re considering having a child soon after your last pregnancy, you might like to think about how quickly you recovered after your last pregnancy and the physical stress that another pregnancy might put on your body.

If you had any complications during your last pregnancy, or labour, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice from a trusted medical professional about how long you should wait before falling pregnant again.

Are you able to nurture a new pregnancy as well as breastfeeding your baby? Both activities demand nutrients from the mother, so it’s important to carefully consider nutrition and what is needed to sustain two babies, as well as yourself, without compromising your health. If you have any concerns about fertility you may not want to space out your children over a few years when that might make it harder to fall pregnant again.

Your finances

Children are expensive, there is no doubt about it, so it’s a good idea to think about family income and budget when thinking of adding another child to the family. While every family’s ‘comfortable budget’ will look different, things like taking extra time off work, additional day care fees, and medical expenses might impact your household cash flow quite significantly.

You might even find yourself considering purchasing a bigger car, or larger house to accommodate your growing family. These large assets can have a big impact on day-to-day life and may also influence your decision.

Your family dynamics

There is as many opinions as there are people on whether or not having children close together increases their companionship with each other. Children who are close in age may more naturally become friends during their younger years, whereas children who are further apart may have a more hierarchical relationship.

But equally, it may not work that way. Your children have their own personalities and the potential to fight with each other, or be best of friends, will vary from day to day (or hour to hour) no matter how big or small the age gap is between them.

The pros and cons

Having babies close together might condense your total years of parenting, but might also make the process more intense as you raise children who are at similar developmental stages of their lives. In the early days, this might mean more sleepless nights, intense days as you juggle two wholly dependent infants, and more consecutive time out of the workforce.

However it might also make it easier to reuse clothes, keep them both occupied as they play together on activities that suit both of them, and the reduction of overall years in active parenting which might be especially helpful for older parents.

On the other hand, spacing children apart by a few years (or more!) will increase the total years in active parenting, but will allow for some breathing room between each one. You can go back to work between maternity leave blocks, if that’s something that’s also important to you. You also might be able to get back to better sleep patterns after those intense months of night-time feeds.

At 2 or 3 years old, an older sibling will be a little bit more independent than their infant sibling, and won’t rely on you for quite as much. They can walk beside the pram, occupy themselves a little bit more when you have your hands full, and will be less reliant on your breast milk.

However, it might also increase the likelihood of sibling rivalry and they might be more reluctant to play together, particularly when one child can’t do as much as their older sibling. It will also spread out the years of active parenting which may not be ideal for you, depending on your plans.

The final word

It really is up to how you and your partner feel about how a new baby will affect your lives and family. Your priorities will determine whether having another child soon after the last will be ideal for you, or whether it would be preferable to wait.

There is no right answer but, whatever you decide, your family will be just the way it was meant to be all along.