So, you’ve survived the first round of crying marathons, sleepless nights and constant nappy changes. Your baby is turning into a little person with his own personality and you’re getting broody.
Is it too soon to have the next one? After all, how many times do you want to shop for nappies? Are you willing to embrace the chaos of a rapid-fire family addition, or would you prefer a not-so-close gap to preserve your sanity? If not now, when?
There are highs and lows with whichever spacing scenario you choose.
When is the best time to have another baby
According to research the ideal pregnancy spacing is between 2 and 3 years. This however, is just a recommendation. Medical professionals agree that waiting 18 to 23 months after the birth of your last child before conceiving again, will be best for baby and mommy. Not all parents want to wait that long while other parents are more interested in watching one child grow and develop before adding a second to the household. This is a very personal choice; research is not the end-all when it comes to a final decision.
What should be taken into consideration before having another baby?
Finances: It is costly to have an infant. If a new family addition would place too much strain on the family finances, it may be better to wait. Many women find it difficult to keep up with full-time or even part-time work once a second baby comes along. Can you afford to stay at home or pay for the new baby’s childcare?
Age: This is a factor for women planning to have more than one child. If you are 38 years old and planning to have more than one child, you don’t have the luxury of spacing them far apart. Remember, fertility rates drop dramatically once you’re 35.
Your partner: Is this what both of you want? It’s hard to be in sync all the time. Sit down and discuss this as a couple.
Closely spaced siblings
Having close gaps between siblings can be beneficial when it comes to toys, sibling rivalry and division of attention. Research found that kids in a closely spaced age gap do not compete for their parents’ attention, as seen in kids with larger age gaps. If you make it through the first years, your kids are likely to have a closer relationship, playing and sharing with each other. You and your partner will be able to climb the professional ladder sooner. On the flip side, you may suffer from morning sickness when your toddler becomes very clingy. You will have 2 babies at the same time, double the diapers, and double the sleepless nights; not for the faint hearted!
Widely spaced siblings
It will be both physically and mentally easier on you to have more breathing room between babies. Life will be easier with a pre-schooler and a baby, than with a toddler and a baby. Your older child will be more independent when the baby arrives, leaving you with more time to devote to the baby.
On the downside, a big age gap will make sharing and enjoying each other’s company, at least during their childhood, very hard. You will spend more years of active parenting; it could be harder to get your career back on track.
You can mull over the plusses and minuses of having another child without coming to a conclusion. This is one of those decisions best led by the heart. If a growing family is part of your plans for the future, prepare for double the challenges, but also double the fun.