Posted: Jul 09, 2013 10:00 AM
 
Deciding to conceive for the first time can be a difficult decision for a family, but trying for a second baby means weighing the pros and cons of having kids close together or further apart. Is there an ideal age gap between siblings?

Getting pregnant — again

Trying to conceive for the first time means discussions about parenting styles and musings on the excitement of becoming parents for the first time. Trying to conceive for the second time often involves discussions interrupted by diaper blow-outs or baby feedings.

When you're already a parent, figuring out when to start trying for your second, third or fourth baby doesn't mean you're just changing your life — you're changing the life of your first baby, too. Everyone has an opinion about ideal spacing between siblings, so we talked to Deborah Gilboa, M.D., family physician and parenting expert, about family spacing. She discussed three distinct age differences between siblings.

Two under two

With the range of developmental milestone averages, siblings that are fewer than two years apart can reach milestones within months of each other, and some parents may feel like they're raising twins.
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Dr. Gilboa — @AskDocG on Twitter — explains that there are several advantages to raising siblings extremely close in age. With the range of developmental milestone averages, siblings that are fewer than two years apart can reach milestones within months of each other, and some parents may feel like they're raising twins. Parents can streamline toys, activities and family outings because kids will be developmentally ready for the same types of things. However, having two children as close together as 11 to 15 months apart can be exhausting and physically demanding for parents.

The two-year spread

With kids around two years apart, competition can be fierce. The two-year gap means kids are acutely aware when a sibling is outperforming for his or her age in a specific area, and there can even be confusion over whose friends are whose.
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Spacing siblings about two years apart means having kids who are close enough in age to really get to know each other, but far enough apart to give parents time to recover from the rigorous newborn phase before getting pregnant for the second time. With kids around two years apart, competition can be fierce. The two-year gap means kids are acutely aware when a sibling is outperforming for his or her age in a specific area, and there can even be confusion over whose friends are whose.

Taking your time

The younger sibling has a built-in superhero, and the older sibling will have the opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility. A larger age gap can sometimes cause friction when planning family vacations or allotting free time.
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Spacing siblings more than three years apart can create a healthy mentor relationship between siblings. The younger sibling has a built-in superhero, and the older sibling will have the opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility. A larger age gap can sometimes cause friction when planning family vacations or allotting free time, because the interests of the older sibling may not be developmentally appropriate for a young child or toddler, and the younger child's activities can be deemed as childish and boring.

THE bottom line^ Katie Hurley, LCSW, reminds parents: "There is no 'perfect' age gap when it comes to siblings. The most important thing is that there is always enough love to go around. Sibling relationships ebb and flow over time, but when parents take the time to help nurture those relationships, they can last a lifetime."

For more excellent parenting advice, follow Doctor G on YouTube.

More about planning for pregnancy

When to share that you're trying for a baby
Foods to improve your fertility
Happy to be a young mom

Topics: family planning

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