Spacing Siblings


When you have a new baby, the notion of going for number two seems insane. Within a few years, however, those broody feelings can kick in! My husband and I waited four years before trying for a second baby, but not until I’d done some extensive research into the ideal age gap between siblings. 

How Soon Is Too Soon?

I have a few friends that, having had their first child, decided to go for a second baby pretty soon after. They felt that it was better to get the pregnancies “out of the way”, and have children all in one go rather than having a large gap in between.

The American Medical Association published an analysis in 2006 that seemed to indicate that conceiving soon after having a child might not be best. Apparently, women often remain anemic for as long as a year after giving birth, and a pregnancy that occurs within 18 months after the last one holds higher risks in terms of delivery complications.

Some psychologists also argue that babies born too close together may experience less attention from their parents, thanks to the increasing demands that having two babies entails. You may initially have planned to start trying for a second baby when your firstborn turned two, as I did, only to find that a two year old still felt very much like a baby, and still needed a huge amount of attention and affection every day.

One especially interesting study conducted by Jeannie Kidwell at the University of Tennessee, showed that teenagers who had two years apart from their sibling had a more negative opinions of themselves, as opposed to those who were less than a year or over four years apart.

Kidwell concluded that this negativity came from a feeling of resentment toward the sibling that can occur if a child is within a certain age period. Babies who are less than one when their sibling is conceived probably don’t have enough awareness to experience this kind of jealousy, while those over four are old enough to get excited about the new arrival.

At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of personal choice.

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