Having your first baby gives you the necessary experience to face the arrival of a second child. However, it is true that questions like the following may arise: How long should I wait before being ready for another baby? Is there an ideal age gap between the first and the second child?
Obviously, the final decision will be taken by the parents. But still, here we mention some advantages and disadvantages of having another baby with a small gap between the first one or, conversely, after a few years.
Age gap under 2 years between siblings
- Similar development lines: When the difference between siblings is less than 2 years, they can become good friends, since apart from being siblings, they can become playmates. This will help reduce possible sibling jealousy between the older sibling and the arrival of a new sibling into the family. Their needs and preferences will be alike; therefore, entertaining and bringing them up will be easier.
- Less time is spent daily changing diapers: Even though you have to change a greater amount of diapers per day, which means that both babies will cry and fight every time you do so. But you have to bear in mind the fact that once this stage finishes, you won’t have to change diapers anymore.
- Time at work: if the age gap between siblings is small, career interruptions due to childbirth will be shorter too.
- Easier school attendance: A small age gap means they can nurture one another when dealing with school issues. It may bring also cost savings when it comes to buying textbooks.
- Constant fatigue: Taking care of a child is physically exhausting, let alone if you have two children of a similar age, specially when there’s no extra help for parents. However, many parents see this as a long-term advantage: even though the initial effort is higher, once the kids are autonomous they will help each other and thus parents will be able to be more independent.
- Double the cost: larger amounts of diapers and feeding bottles, two car pushchairs, and biggest expenses in our budget for school, clothing…
Age gap above 2 years between siblings
- More time with kids: for example, you can pay more attention to the youngest while the older one is at school.
- Playmates: in spite of the age gap, siblings can still share their hobbies as well as play together by assuming different roles.
- More time for yourself: You can enjoy spending more time with your partner since you don’t have to focus on taking care of both children at the same time. You can also do some sport to get you in shape or make time for your social life.
- Older sibling’s care: Once the second child is born and the first one is “old”, the latter can help you bringing up the newborn as well as helping you with daily home duties. This means you will be able to make more time for the younger sibling since the older one is now autonomous and able to do more things by him- or herself.
- Resource optimization: you can reuse some of your older kid’s stuff for the newborn such as the crib, the stroller, some toys, etc.
- Jealousy: this is one of the main cons. The older sibling may need time to assume there’s another person who also requires attention from the mother. To date, he or she has been feeling like the king or queen for a long time, enough to get used to it and see it as the normal situation. Therefore, understanding that now his or her parents need to focus more on the newborn won’t be that easy and may lead to jealousy. This feeling might cause uncomfortable situations or even lead him or her to regress and start needing the pacifier again or stop going to toilet alone, among other types of behaviors.
- Divided lives: Siblings will live different development phases in their lives. This may be debilitating for you since you will have to take care of both of them as they may have different daily timetables and activities. For example, it may happen that you’ll have to pick up the older from school at the same time you have to breastfeed the younger one.
Sometimes, it can be very hard for a toddler to welcome a new being into his or her domain, but luckily there are a series of patterns that you should follow in order to reduce the impact that the arrival of a new baby may have on the older sibling. The most important ones are: on the one hand, mentally preparing your older kid for the arrival of a little brother or sister, and on the other hand, continuing to pay attention to the older sibling as you’ve been doing to date.
In these cases, parents are recommended to get the older sibling involved in the arrival of the new sibling. This means they should highlight the fact that he or she is the older one and let him or her act with the subsequent responsibility during the process of bringing up the new baby by letting him or her assume the role of protector and model to follow.
It is also advisable not to change your habits or your older child’s routine once the new kid is born as well as avoiding sudden changes such as moving him or her from crib to bed, to another bedroom or even to a new house.
Sometimes though, the older sibling does not manifest behavior changes or sibling jealousy at the beginning. But you shouldn’t declare victory yet: during the first months with the new member of the family, some toddlers feel excited or even inspired. However, sibling jealousy may start after a few months, when they realize about their new situation and therefore start showing a particular behavioral pattern as a consequence of jealousy.