You’ve had your first child and everyone went ga-ga over him/her. Before you knew it, you were being prodded to have the next one. Not a bad idea, you think, but is this the right time for it now or should you and your spouse wait a little to have the next baby? Does it make a difference to your older child to have a large or a small gap between the two?
You may ponder over this until the cows come home, but really there isn’t anything like a really good or best time to have the next baby. There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides, much depends on your family situation and what you want for your family.
Advantages of having children with small gaps between them:
- You’ve just had a baby, so are well-versed with its demands, such as diapers, waking up at odd hours and tending to them 24×7.
- Children with small spacing between them are good friends. They play together and share a lot.
Disadvantages of having children with small gaps between them:
- Your older child can understand adult concepts like sharing, working together, patience, etc.
- To have two children within the same age range can be very trying for young mothers.
- You can get to know each of your children individually.
So, have a second baby when you and your spouse are ready for it, financially and emotionally.
Children in various age groups–a close look: Let’s take a look at closely spaced children as against those that are widely spaced:
Gap of 6 months between children:
No matter how young you may be, it’s always advisable to recover fully from an earlier pregnancy before you move on to the next. Doctors advise that a minimum gap of six months be maintained between two births, though a year is better.
You have a lower chance of suffering from preeclampsia, which mothers with wider pregnancies experience.
Your kids will experience the same stages one after another, so handing down clothes and toys is easier and better on the pocket.
Your older child will not reject the new born as it does not understand displacement nor is he territorial.
Two pregnancies in quick succession means that you will be short of essential nutrients like iron, the second time round.
You could suffer from a placental abruption.
You will experience complications at birth, about 3.4 times more than women who maintain a two-year gap between births.
Gap of 12-18 months between children:
As a mother, you’re sure to witness a little sibling rivalry between your kids. Your kids will be happy to spend time together, playing, reading, etc–something that you’re going to love. This is because the older child is still too young and innocent to display jealousy towards the younger one, so he or she will be loving and welcoming to the younger one.
Besides, if you’re a working woman who’s taken time off to have a baby, you’d prefer to extend that time a little and have another one. After this, you can go back to work comfortably and resume your career.
If you have two closely-spaced kids, you’d be highly likely to stay with them at home until they begin schooling. You could thus save on childcare costs and when you do return to work, you’ll have spent less time out of the professional scene, thereby making it easier to pick up from where you left off, and be a working parent.
The demands of each of your kids can take a toll on your health. Imagine a situation when each of your kids needs to have diapers changed, or they need to be potty trained. With everything in twos, it’s a lot of trouble for you, but on the flip side, once you get over it, it’s behind you.
Secondly, while your older kid may have its own demands, you’re still recovering from the second childbirth and are perhaps still breastfeeding. This may force you to wean your older kid even before he should be.
Gap of 2 years between children:
Obstetricians advise that you ensure a minimum gap of 18 months between your babies as this is good for your second baby’s health. Though sibling rivalry rears its ugly head now, yet once these traumatic days are well past, it proves to be good as the children grow older. They may play together and enjoy each others’ company and continue to pursue their individual interests and have their own identities.
But this means that you’re bang in the period when sibling rivalry is at its peak. It’s difficult for parents to deal with a strong toddler with an equally strong sense of self and who thinks nothing of saying “No” to anything you say or give him.
Gap of 3 years and more between children:
This length of gap vastly reduces any chances of traditional sibling rivalry. By the time the second baby is born, the older one is secure and confident on his own.
Besides, the mother is fully recovered from all the problems experienced at the first child’s birth. By giving a three-year gap between both kids, the parents give each child enough time and attention.
Children with three-year spacing don’t usually play happily together, particularly in the initial years.By the time you have your second baby, you’ll have to begin all over again with the diaper and feed routines, potty training and all the rest of it, just when you thought you were through with it all.
Factors to consider before having another child:
Of course, to have another child and if so when are all personal decisions. But if you have decided to go ahead with another, you need to be honest about your apprehensions, if any, and your feelings and capabilities.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you emotionally and financially want a second baby?
- Can you afford the expenses of another child? Are you ready for them right now?
- Are you, as a woman, within the child-bearing age? The older you get, your fertility reduces, so think about this one.
- Do you and your spouse want this baby?
- How will this newborn affect your daily life?
Once you give honest answers to these questions, you will be able to decide whether or not to have a second baby.