The decision regarding when to have subsequent children is one of the toughest decisions a parent faces for two reasons. Often a parent will wonder if it’s possible to love a second child as much as they love their first born, and also it is important to acknowledge that this will have a monumental effect on other children already in the household.

Choosing to have children with a small age gap, or large, is a decision only you and your partner can make and there are many different factors to consider. Your decision will need to be based around how you foresee your family dynamic on an ongoing basis and also what kind of lifestyle you and your partner would like to maintain. You should consider everything before making a decision and sit down with your partner to discuss the options. It’s an important decision, and you certainly want to make the right one for you and your family.

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There are several good reasons to have children close in age. If your existing child/ren are young say, under three years of age, then they will never know what it means to be alone or an only child. The sibling/s will have always “been there” and the older child/ren will not remember a world without their younger sibling/s. There are also several disadvantages of having children close in age. If you become pregnant while still nursing, you may be forced to wean them from the breast early if you have suffered from complicated pregnancies in the past. If you don’t need to wean, it can put additional strain on your body to both nurse and be pregnant and you need to compensate for that in your diet and lifestyle. You will also need to consider how you feel about tandem nursing (nursing two children of different ages) once the next baby comes along. Dealing with morning sickness can be a challenge when also trying to spend quality time with an older more demanding child. At a time when your oldest needs attention, you may not be in a physical state to give them that and balancing this can be difficult. Another major disadvantage is the cost involved with having two babies in the house; nappies for two children are expensive! However, going this route also means that you’ll have everything “over and done with” fast and life can return to normal quite quickly, or whatever the new normal is!

However, if you chose to have your children spread apart in age it can be hard for several reasons: Firstly, having got through the baby stage once or even twice, returning to it can be quite daunting. Also, the older child/ren may feel that life was better when they were alone and show anger towards their sibling. On the other hand, if the age gap is significant, an existing child may see the new sibling as the most wonderful thing to come into their life. Older children are also able to help more and if they feel involved, they are more likely to accept a new sibling into the family fold.

When deciding how soon after your first child you would like to have another, it is ultimately up to you. You must decide what is right for your family. You should sit down with your partner and discuss it thoroughly before making a decision as it is a decision that cannot be taken back! Talk about the pros and cons of the decision and make sure it is right for you. And then go for it – and Congratulations!

What do you think is the “perfect” age difference? What is the age difference between your children or you and your siblings?