The pros and cons of sibling age gaps
Whether you are recently married, in a long-term relationship or are in the ‘getting on in age’ bracket… the questions generally start to arise around when you are considering having kids. But then when once you’ve had a baby, it moves to ‘so when are you having another one?’
This can throw you off guard, especially if you haven’t thought that far ahead! If you do want to have more than one child, then there are a few questions you likely need to ask yourself. How many kids do you want in total? Are you ready to go through it all again? The pregnancy.. the toll on your body.. the labour.. the sleep deprivation.. and one that you will certainly ask yourself is, what is the ideal age gap between your children?
Now, these are all valid questions and in the perfect world, it would all go to plan! The reality, of course, is that you can plan as much as you want but sometimes, things don’t always turn out that way.
For those of you unsure of whether or not to go for it again, we decided to look at the pros and cons of different age gaps.
Shorter Gap – under 3 years
- The kids will likely grow up with a closer relationship, as they are closer in age and at similar developmental stages.
- You can navigate these stages as a whole family rather than one child being further ahead and/or being left out.
- Financially this can be a benefit as you can reuse all the baby items before they get too old (and not having to store them taking up space in your house for too long).
- You ride the wave of sleep deprivation all at once and then you’re done with it.
- Siblings with closer age gaps tend to exhibit less sibling rivalry/jealousy as the older child is too young to have developed these emotions yet.
- Unfortunately, age is a factor for women, so having children sooner gives you a better chance of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby to term.
- The closer the kids are in age the more demanding they are likely to be – toddlers require a lot of hands-on care
- Physical needs of toddlers – can be quite physical and need to be carried, lifted in and out of cot etc, which can be very difficult on your body – especially during pregnancy and when you have a newborn
- The physical toll on your body of back-to-back births
- Two children in nappies equals double the cost and double the possible poo explosions
- Dealing with the terrible twos and threenagers means toddlers just finding their feet and their voices, which they aren’t shy about telling you – and not to mention chucking a good old tantrum to get their way
- Closer gaps can also be tough on the hip pocket, without the ability to get back on track after taking time out of work the first time
Longer Gaps – 3 years or more
- Older kids can get involved and help out – they often enjoy being made to feel important
- Older kids can be less demanding on you physically, as they are running around and are usually toilet trained by this stage too – which saves on money and time
- If an older child is in preschool/school this frees up your time to focus on the newborn and to give yourself a break from the chaos of two
- You are spreading the cost of the children out, so things like school fees won’t come in one lump sum
- You’ll have more time to get your body fit and healthy again to take on another pregnancy
- You can get back into work/or a career, rather than taking a big block of time out
- You’ll possibly have more energy because you are not looking after a demanding toddler at the same time
- Just when you get your sleep (and your life back) – a newborn comes along to take it away again
- You might need to restock up on baby items/equipment if they are too old or don’t meet standard requirements anymore
- Once you do get back into work, you then have to step away again
- As your body gets older your egg count and quality deteriorate – so it may not be as easy a process as you had hoped
Ultimately there really is no “perfect” age gap because no two children and no two families are the same. Some siblings just get along and become besties for life regardless, and some are so different that they clash. Just do what feels right for you, your body, your partner and your stage in life. And also, as anyone whose tried for a baby knows, you can do everything under the sun to fall pregnant and all the planning you like, but ultimately it will happen when it happens.
If you are planning on adding a new addition to your tribe, be sure to watch our ‘Nurturing Sibling Relationships‘ video in the Kiindred Expert Series with Mothercraft Nurse, Chris Minogue.