4.5 Year Age Difference Between Siblings?

Updated on November 15, 2010
J.M. asks from Seattle, WA
26 answers

My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half. At this point if we want that to happen we'll have to go w/donor egg and IVF.

Even if we made the decision to go forward with that immediately, our daughter would be at least 4.5 when the baby was born.
I'm wondering what other peoples' experiences have been with this kind of age difference. Can siblings still play together at all, or will they really be in their own separate worlds.

My mother had several miscarriages resulting in me being 8.5, 12 and 13 years younger than my siblings. I was more like a second family unit w/my parents. I am pretty close to my sisters, especially the younger. (The older felt she had too much responsibility to raise me).

In any case, perhaps you have a similar age difference with your children, or have children with these age differences and can tell me a little about your experiences. I know there's no way to guarantee siblings will have a good relationship, but I feel like I have no idea what this age difference would be like.

This is a pretty heart wrenching decision.

Thanks so much,


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answers from San Antonio on

My brother and I are three years apart and then my sisters and I are 11 and 13 years apart. My kids are 12, 11, 11, and 7 years old. My youngest and my oldest play together just fine. (Aside from typical sibling squabbles.)

4 1/2 years really isn't that bad of an age difference. They're close enough that they can still play together, but the oldest is old enough that she's out of diapers, can feed herself and can even help a little with the baby. (ie get diapers, put a bottle in the sink, etc)

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answers from St. Louis on

my sons are 9 years apart! They're now 14 & 23 ....& are closer than they've ever been. I love it!



answers from Dallas on

Mine are 4.5 years apart almost to the day. I think it is a good age gap especially now as they are getting older. (9 and almost 5) They are starting to play together and enjoy each other more and more every day. We will see what happens in the preteen years :)

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answers from New York on

My children are exactly 4.5 years apart. They are a boy and a girl so they weren't playmates as children but they always loved each other. They are now 25 and 21 and are REALLY close. When my daughter turned 21 she wanted her brother to be the first one to go out with her to celebrate. They still go out together on occasion and go for lunch, movies etc. Also, there wasn't much jealousy between them when we brought her home, because he was old enough that his needs were not as great as maybe a 2 year old. He was such a help and really loved her. Good luck I hope your little blessing comes soon!!

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answers from New York on

We lost our second baby at 21 weeks and I almost didn't try again but I am so glad I did. My son was 6 months old a couple of days ago and my DD will be 5 in January. He is a joy! She is the best sister and such a great loving little mamas helper. She loves him so much. There have been no issues of jealousy. She is able to tell us when she feels left out or needs time with mommy or daddy without baby brother. I had my doubts about the big gap but now I am so glad because I also only have one in diapers and she is in preK so I have 5 mornings a week with the baby all alone. They both get one on one time with mom and dad.
I am amazed on a daily basis at the love and nurturing spirit my DD brings to her brother. If she hears him crying she will go to him and comfort him. She wants to help feed him. I love it. Now I want another one. lol

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answers from Minneapolis on

Our boys are exactly 4.5 yrs apart (5 and 9.5 now). Not totally by choice but a 180 degree career change after the first meant it was best to wait longer than we planned to make sure the energy and $$$ stuff was back on track.

Our boys LOVE each other. They are always helping each other, playing together, whispering secrets....

Their shouted good nights and I-love-yous ring through the house every night.

Their inevitable spats are usually over before we can interfere and they are apologizing before we have to make them say sorry.

BUT...My theory is not that 1 year or 2 years or 4 years or 10 years is "best". I actually suspect there is no best. What makes the difference is the parents themselves. Couples that have a happy marriage, that are personally satisfied, parents that love their children and work day and night to do their best...That is what matters. If you have that, the timing between kids doesn't matter. It sounds like you have love to give another child -- Good luck. You deserve that.

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answers from New York on

I have a sister who is 8 yrs older them me, a brother 4 yrs older, a brother 19 mos younger & my girls are almost 6 yrs apart. It makes no difference in my opinion. The relationships that develop over the years change so much as we are growing up but always remain the same in so many ways. My little brother is still the one I talk to when I need a laugh or the one I tell stories to my girls about when I want to put a smile on their faces. Whereas my sister is the one I ask questions to about my 12 yr old to since we lost my mom, and she was the one that I went to when I had boyfriend troubles, unless I needed one of them beat up then it was my older brother! I really don't think there's ever a good age that we can introduce a child to another at and if we try to hard it can only make things harder. We can only to the best we can and try to include them in as much as we can. My daughter Sami had a babydoll that we'd dress up in babydoll clothes & change the diapers - we just prayed her sister didn't come out with a head of hair because we hoped Sam wouldn't carry her around by the hair like she did her babydoll. Wishing you the best of luck!

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answers from Seattle on

Well, we're not too far into it, but my daughter was nearly five when her little brother was born last year. So far it's been mixed. She adores her little brother and has since the start. (she often says that the day he was born was the happiest day of her life) :)

The hardest thing for her was having to deal with not having 100% of our attention, like she was used to for almost five years. And although that's been really tough, I think that part will fade and once her brother (now 11 months old) can really start playing more they will have lots of fun together. As it is now, they already play together and giggle together. It's so cute.

So, like you said, there's no guarantee that siblings will get along, but there's a good chance that even with a larger age gap, they'll still love to play together.

Good luck!

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answers from New York on

My 2 are exactly 4 years apart, and are 19 (girl) and 15 (boy) now. The older one is off to college, so now my son is getting lots of our undivided attention! LOL. They DID play together when they were younger - however, this is something I often had to encourage. I think individual personalities of the children makes a big difference in how they get along. I was an only child, and so desperately wanted to have at least 2 kids (hubby is one of 4) to "keep each other company." Their relationship has evolved over the years - when my daughter was in HS and son was still in grammar school there seemed to be a HUGE separation between them in terms of interests - they didn't really have that much in common. Now that they are older, I see them as converging a little bit more and having more common ground. Sometimes I will find my son skyping with her or texting her and that makes me so happy :) I really wouldn't worry about the potential age difference if I were you - it sounds like you have so much love to go around! It's all good.

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answers from Houston on

There is a 4.5 age difference from my oldest to my middle, and from my middle to the youngest.
They ALL play together! :)
They fight, argue, play, and love each other to pieces. Some days they are all snuggled up together, and some days they are fighting over the TODDLER'S toys! Lol!
Good luck. If you decide to have this baby, you guys sound like great parents and I'm sure your daughter will have lots of fun with him/her. :)

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answers from Spokane on

I am 5 years older than my brother and we played all the time when we were young. I remember being very protective and proud that he was "my" baby in the first couple of years (we also have two older sisters who are twins). When our sisters were doing their "twin" stuff, we would play trucks and legos together. I was big enough in our "kid" years to give him piggy back rides and pull him around the neighborhood in the wagon and play catch in the yard. During my teen years he was included in a lot too, he had his own little band uniform and marched with the drum major to football games (my mom was very involved with us, so he went where she went), and he was always cheering at my soccer games. Once I got my license and was off in the world doing important things like seeing movies with my friends I found him to be a big nuisance - I especially hated hearing my mom say "Just take him with you, he just wants to be with you!" - but that was a learning time for us both. Now we are grown and really aren't that close but there are a TON of outside reasons for this that I won't go into. Bottom line, I don't think it matters what the age gap is, if you love your kids and treat them kindly this is how they will naturally treat each other because they will learn that that is how you treat PEOPLE in general. This is true for my kids too, who are 3 1/2 yrs apart, and honestly truly hardly EVER argue!



answers from Cincinnati on

my sister has been one of my best friends since we were kis and we are 8 yrs apart



answers from Bellingham on

There are five years between my oldest daughters, and eight between the second and third. The older two are now 14 and 9. They have always been very sweet together. They are very different, personality wise, but have a close and loving relationship. The older is very protective of her sisters, and a sort of "second mother" to both. I find it has been great, there is less competition because they have different interests, but they can still do a lot of things together. The older girls enjoy "teaching" the younger ones. It is also good for kids to be exposed to children of different ages. I meet a lot of kids with close-aged siblings who have only ever been exposed to kids around their age range at school etc. and they are often clueless about how to interact with kids of different ages. Many of my 14 year old daughters friends have never been around a baby or toddler and love to come over and "help" my daughter care for her siblings. My girls also all had their own "baby time" with me. Throughout most of human evolution children would have been naturally spaced around 3-5 years apart (longer nursing plus limited calories among other things would restrict fertility). All that said, I think a lot depends on personalities when it comes to relationships!



answers from Las Vegas on

One of my older brothers is 5 years older than I am. I remember us playing together but I was more of a tag along than anything. He had his things that he was going and he just seemed to always let me be apart of it. He may have played baby games with me but my memory doesn't go back that far. I had a nice experience with him though.



answers from Dallas on

My husband and his brother have a 5 /12 year difference. They always loved each other, of course. They didn't really become "close" until they were much older. (high school/early college age.) However, he said they never had problems. They each had their friends and were happy as children.



answers from State College on

My brother and I are about 4.5 years apart, I am the younger one. We did play together when we were younger. We played with his cars, but we would play with some of the stuff I liked better too. Of course we spent a lot of time with our own friends as we got older, but when we were young a lot of times the neighborhood kids would all be in our backyard having fun. Even when I was 4-7 he and his friends would include me in some of their games, they also had time to play on their own without me.



answers from Columbus on

Mine are almost 4 years apart. My daughter was born in Nov. '06 & my son turned 4 the following Feb. Their relationship has it's ups & downs. In the beginning, he didn't really want her. He even asked when she was going back to her parents. But, as the years have progressed, they are pretty good friends. She has learned a lot from him & he is a great big brother. The only "problem" (if you want to call it that) is that she truly believes that she can do anything he can do. Even if developmentally, she just isn't ready. She was walking around 9 months & since then believed that she could climb up the bunk beds. But, it does make for a very independent & strong young woman. He also seems to learn a lot from her. I don't expect this type of friendship to continue through the teen years, but I like to believe that it will come back when they pass that stage.



answers from Portland on

I intentionally put 4.5 years between my two. My oldest is a girl (which I think makes it much easier), and my youngest is a boy. They are now 4.5 and 9.

During pregnancy, it was great! My daughter was old enough to be trusted while I took a short nap. I would sleep on the couch while she watched a show, or she would play on my bedroom floor while I napped.

Once the baby was born, she was old enough to help out some. She could hold a bottle, quiet baby with a pacifier, fetch things for me, etc. She was old enough to be in love with "her" baby and was never jealous of him. Unlike a lot of new moms, with my little helper, I got showers and bathroom time while my daughter babysat for 10 minutes at a time.

They have always played together, and still do. My son loves to join my daughter playing house, Barbies, Doll house, little people, etc. My daughter is always happy to play with my son's toys, and my son will do anything to join his sister. They are not on the same level, but they always make it work. My favorite part of the age spread is that they have NEVER fought physically. My daughter wouldn't dream of hitting her brother because she views him as being a baby/toddler/preschooler, but not a peer. My daughter has been an excellent second set of eyes to watch out for my son, and has made babysitter's lives much easier.

Also, one last note. We realized that with this age spread, you get one-on-one time with the baby while big sis is in Kindergarten, one will finish college before the other starts, and we will never have two teenagers fighting over a car.

To answer your question though, my kids are best friends.



answers from Portland on

Don't worry about the age difference. Worry about wanting another child. The age difference will work itself out. My sister and I are less than two years apart while my husband and his sister are 6 years apart. Same amount of sibling rivalry and love between us. Our boys are 4 years apart. They fight, laugh and play together. There are stages when they are in their own worlds, but when we camp or take vacations they are playmates to each other. We didn't choose the 4 year difference, God did. Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

My girls are 8 year apart (13 and 5 yrs old) - I worried about have 2 only children, but I think it's what you make it. We've always brought the little one to the older's sports and events and vice versa. We do a lot as a family - coloring, arts/crafts, games, etc. There are times they have "sleep overs" and great friends, and times they are fighting (my 13 yr old seriously wants that barbie???). I'm at a new stage in my life, looking to do it all over again, we discussed the possibility with the girls and they are estatic at the thought of another new sibling (both hoping for a boy) - so we'll let God have his way and see if it's in our future or not.



answers from Seattle on

My sister and I are very nearly 4 years apart. We played together until she hit high school and then we kinda both became only kids. If we'd had a better relationship, it would have been different, but we just have different temperments and there's some family stuff.

I don't think 4-5 years is a bad gap in itself. Really, the question is what is best for your family? The current members and any potential future members. What is the best thing for you all?



answers from Cleveland on

My daughters are 15.5 mos apart so opposite end of the spectrum but my sister is 4.75yrs older than me. And I am SO SO glad I have her. She's the rational and nicer one so I think it was a bit tough on her when we were young bc not only was I inherently less mature but I'm also a more difficult person. But I think she still liked having me at times. I remember helping her practice for cheerleading tryouts etc. And she was great for me to have for advice. And it's nice to have someone to talk to about your parents. Now that we're older and both have kids, I find she seeks me out much more than she used to. We've gotten very close. And again, having someone to help with parents as they age is huge. My friend has a sister about 16 mos older and can't stand her. My other friend is 5 years older than her brother and they're very close. I question if my daughters will be close as they don't get along well now. So age difference is just one factor. Don't let that stop you from having a second. I also think your situation as a kid was different bc there were 3 who had each other so you were really more odd man out. If only 2 kids, they only have each other...


answers from Eugene on

My daughters are 5 + years apart in age. They are close as sisters ought to be. As children they did not have a great deal to fight about unless they were sharing a room. One was tidy the other a disorderly slob.
I never had to explain why one could not go somewhere the other was going or why their bedtimes were different. They had several sets of friends whose sisters were four years apart. Growing up they visited their sister friends together.
I have always wondered why people have their children too close in age to give any child enough. Native Americans before the conquest by Europeans spaced their children 4 years apart.


answers from Raleigh on

I don't know if it's a good or bad difference, but we have also been trying for quite some time and even if we get pregnant tomorrow, our son will be 5 when his new brother or sister comes. It all works somehow!



answers from Portland on

I haven't read your other answers, yet, but I just wanted to say that I was six years older than my only brother and it worked out really well. I absolutely adored him, as a baby and small child! He now (jokingly) says he felt like he had three parents, but we're really close. We did play together, but we also had our separate activities. His was a very strong personality, while I was more laid back, so the age difference was probably a very good thing, for us. Otherwise, I think I would have felt entirely overpowered by him and there would have been a lot more sibling rivalry between us. We were home-schooled and I ended up deciding to stay at home a couple of extra years before I went to college. I think that helped to establish our adult relationship as peers. If I had left when he was only 12, he would have remained my "little" brother, but since I didn't go away until he was 14, he really became my "friend." I am so thankful for him, now!!!



answers from Seattle on

I think that age is only one factor. Personality and gender can play a big role too. My own children will be very close in age (we are expecting number 2) so I can't tell you how it looks from the parent perspective. However, my older brother is 18 months older than me and my younger brother is 3 years younger than me (making the boys 4.5 years apart). My older brother and I have always been close - we had more fights, we played together more, we attended the same schools and while we had seperate groups of friends in school, we were only one grade level apart so we knew eachother's friends. As adults, we remain close and both work to maintain our relationship although we live a long distance from eachother.

My little brother idolized my older brother, but always existed in a seperate world. Occasionally they would do "boy" things together (mostly scouting type stuff, and they would watch football games together) but once the novelty of a little brother wore off (around my little brother's first birthday) he really ended up on his own alot. Even when my older brother went to summer camp and it was just me and my little brother all summer, we had little in common. The things he was interested in were "little kid stuff" to me and my older brother and he could not physically keep up with us when we did things we liked (mostly sports). As adults, I love my little brother and I respect him as a person but I continue to have a relatively distant relationship with him. This makes me really sad because I think he is an amazing person, but we are basically starting from scratch to build a relationship as adults. My older brother feels the same way towards my younger brother now, as an adult.

I am sure the dynamic will be different with 2 children as opposed to 3 children, and I am sure our personalities played as significant of a role of not more of a role than our ages. My husband has a little sister 18 months younger and a little brother 5 years younger and the 2 siblings (who are 3.5 years apart from eachother) are super close to eachother and he has no relationship with either of them. So there are more factors than age alone.

I would follow my gut if I were you - you know your daughter and you know your family dynamic. If another child would make your family feel more complete, then go for it. If it doesn't feel right to you, then follow that instinct. There will be pros and cons either way, and that will be true of any sibling relationship and any age gap between siblings.

Good Luck!!!

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