Advice on How to Decide When to Have 2Nd Child?

Updated on February 12, 2010
B.F. asks from Denver, CO
24 answers

Hi - I have a 15 month old son. My husband and I are starting to toss around the idea of trying for another. I tend to want to start trying very soon (which would put the two kids a little over 2 years apart) and he wants to wait so they'd be 3 years apart. Does anyone have any suggestions for the benefits of 2 years apart vs. 3 years apart? Those of you with kids 2-ish years apart, what was your experience in the beginning (and long-term)?

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I have a friend who is a therapist and she said the recommended age difference is 3-4 years apart. The older child has less tendency to get jealous and is capable to help and take care of themselves.
My kids are almost 4 years apart and I have loved it! My oldest was so excited to help and hold baby brother and they LOVE to play together (I was a little worried about that)
If I had to do it over again I would have chosen the same path!



answers from Colorado Springs on

My boys are 26 months apart and it worked out great. They are the best of friends and can play together all day. They are 5 and 3 and the older teaches the younger one so much. And he was my little helper when the baby came too. He would get me diapers or toys or blankets, things like that to help. I have a third one on the way and the boys will be 6 and 4 when he gets here. I just think the 4-year difference will be too much to make the little ones playmates. By the time the baby is old enough to play then the middle one will be in kindergarten all day anyway and they'll be into differnt toys. But either way, it will all work out and you'll get to experience one dynamic or the other. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Well I had twins when my oldest was almost 4, so that worked out well for us. I think if she was younger it would have been harder.

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answers from Casper on

I have four children. three of them are 2 years and a few months apart, the last one is almost three years. I can tell you there are benefits of both. I wanted mine at LEAST 2 years, for my health, and close to 2 years apart so I could be finished having children by the time I was thirty. I can tell you that two is nice because they can relate a little bit better. Meaning they just play with each other on about the same level a little sooner then three years apart. Two years apart makes them home with each other longer before one goes off to school, and they get to be in the same school relativity close to the same time. ( I wanted mine to keep an eye on each other).
Three years apart is nice because you have had more time with them one on one. They can be a bit more helpful when the new baby comes, and they are a bit more independent. They still play well together, but it takes longer for them to be on the same level. And I have noticed it is a bit more of "I will tell you what to do" kind of play. And they are not close in school grades and possibly not in the same school together very long. But that might be better for less comparing with each other.
I would just try to think of what your needs are and what your ultimate goals are. You could always compromise and go halfway in between. That would be a good spacing too:)
Good luck



answers from Honolulu on

My friends who have 2 year apart kids, sometimes wished they were more apart.
Regardless of how apart they are, the parents will adapt and to the developmental phases of a child/baby.

My kids are 4 years apart, just so happens, and we love it. And my kids are very close, and the age spacing was great because by the time i had my 2nd child, my daughter was already mature enough to actually cope well with it all and help, and understand a "baby" and was already potty trained and she had her own activities etc. And by the time my 2nd child arrived, my eldest child was in Preschool... so only 1 "baby" was home with me and I thus could devote just time to the baby... while my daughter was at Preschool etc. and it was easier as far as nap times etc.

My friends kids are 3 years apart... and it is great too. She loves it.

It really depends on when you get pregnant... can't always "plan" the age spacing since actual conceiving can take time or not.

all the best,



answers from Salt Lake City on

A lot of it depends on your personality & that of your first child. I had my first two 27 months apart and then another 19 months later (that one wasn't planned!) It has been pretty overwhelming for me over the last few years. Now that my youngest is 2 1/2, I'm starting to feel more in control of my life. If you're a person who can roll with the punches & not have to have perfection - if you can let the house be cluttered for periods of time & if you can deal with not feeling on top of everything, then you can handle them close together. If it's important to you to stay on top of everything, stay organized and reduce chaos, I would recommend a little more spacing. Also, my first child is a girl who was very easy & very helpful from a young age - which also makes closer spacing easier. If I had had my 2nd child first, that kind of spacing may have sent me over the edge.

The bonus I can see now that I'm getting through the really challenging time is that they are really good friends - they have learned really good interpersonal skills from having to deal with each other. It has been intense, but I can see the payoff of having them all close in age - family vacations are fun because all of the kids are interested in similar things at the same time. They are just 2 yrs apart in school, so they overlap in schedules for many of the years - simplifying family schedules.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question. I would really look at your priorities, goals, strengths/weaknesses & family/personality dynamics and make the decision that fits your family best. Good luck with your decision!


answers from St. Louis on

My son and daughter are 2 years apart and the hardest part about that is the fact that we have two in diapers. However, having them three years apart, not sure that my daughter would have been out of diapers anyways?

My daughter has been a wonderful help with my son but still young enough that is not really bothered by me spending a lot of time with my son.

Do what you think is best!



answers from Pueblo on

My case is a little different cause I started with twins. Then had my daughter 2 years 10 days from the boys. If I could have a do over they would be closer to 3 years apart. I aslo have 2 sisters and we are 16 then the other 2 are 18 months apart. As little kids it was ok but as we got into our teen years it would have been better if we were a little further apart in age. So over all I would say wait the extra year.



answers from Colorado Springs on

We planned our 2nd one-we had orders overseas & wanted to all leave at the same time so I didn't have to fly w/a toddler & infant by myself. We ended up not going overseas but I'm glad we planned them so carefully, it's worked out great so far. Our last 2 boys are 2.5 years apart, almost to the day (older is early May, younger is mid Nov). Our "big boy" was my big helper while hubby was deployed, bringing diapers, wipes, pacifiers, toys, etc, holding baby while I did short chores, "babysitting" while I did dishes or picked up the house... they're 8 & 6 now & while they beat the snot out of each other (I've been assured that boys do this, I wouldn't know, I have sisters) they are the best of friends. They're close enough to play together but far enough apart that they're not in each other's bubble as far as friends & school-this will be more important in middle school & high school I'm sure, since they will be far enough apart to not have the same circle of friends.
My sis 1 & I are 18 mos apart, sis 2 & I are 4 years apart & sis 3 & I are 8 years apart. Sis 1 & I were too close together after we hit the preteen years & were at each other's throats, in each other's business/clothes/makeup/perfume. Sis 2 & I weren't close until I moved out of town & now we're the closest. Sis 3 was everyone's pet until she got to school age & then the monster we created by spoiling her came out.
I'd start trying now & see what happens-maybe you'll have them 2 years apart, maybe closer to 3, but you'll have fun trying!



answers from Salt Lake City on

I have 5 kids that are all 2 years apart except for number 3 came one year early so he is 16 months apart from #2 and 3 apart from #4. If that makes sense. It is overwhelming but I wanted my kids close for many reasons. They learn together, play together and when we travel, we can do little kid trips and when they are older, we hope to have some of the same interests too. I grew up with 7 kids 2 years apart and I Loved it but I was a middle child. I wanted them to be close enough to be friends as I truely believe the greatest gift you give to your child is a sibling or siblings. I know some will disagree with me but it is rewarding to see them all play together.



answers from Denver on

I have three kids and here is my input for what it is worth. My first son is 6 years older than my second son and my second son is 2 years older than my third child (daughter). I love the age difference between the first and second because my oldest was in full-day kindergarten when he was born so I was able to spend the one on one time with the new baby. Then when he was 2 the little girl came and they were both home. I never had that one on one time with the little girl until he went to preschool for a couple hours per day two days a week. The two little ones are not independent yet and need a lot from me.

I vote for the three year difference. That way you have some alone time with the new baby while the 3 year old is in preschool. It is just easier to get it all together.

Good luck, when you actually get down to it, all babies are such a blessing, it really doesn't matter when you have them, just love 'em.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I don't think there is a whole lot of difference in 2 vs 3 years apart. When they're young, it might be easier to not have 2 kids in diapers, or 2 kids going through the "terrible twos" (which can often start before 2 and end later than 3). But it really isn't a big deal, in my opinion. My kids are all about 2 1/2 years apart. They get along well and have very similar interests (although kids farther apart may also).

What matters more than spacing is that you and your husband give each child individual attention, as well as family activities, and that they know they are loved and valued for who they are. Spacing is just a personal choice.



answers from Denver on

I have a 4, 2 and 9 month old. It is crazy with their birthday's being three months in a row every year...we get real sick of cake!! LOL BUT...I love how close they are. I'll be honest...having a 2 year old while having a baby can be a challenge...but another year might not make that big of a difference. I think a lot of it depends on how you prepare the first child and how you spend your time with the first child once the second comes along. For me the biggest challenge was from 2 to 3 kids. My second baby was used to be my for him sharing me was harder for him than for my oldest child. I think a lot of it was their personalities. My first loves being a big brother and couldn't wait! Potty training was hard because I also had a baby in my arm while trying to potty train the older one. But...we got it done with our first before he was 2 and with our second by 2 1/ it can be done. Just be prepared to be pulled in a lot of directions for the first few months. Nap times often overlap for a while and perhaps if you wait for a bigger gap the older one would be done with naps...but that depends on the child too. My oldest was done napping at 2...but my second child still naps and he's almost 3. In the long run...I pray that they'll be happy being so close. My sister and I are 15 months apart and I've always loved how close in age we are.
I have rambled quiet a bit...but hope that helps a bit.
one more thought...if you can space it where your body is healthy and 'back in shape''ll recover and bounce back easier from the next baby...and again...that depends on your body. Every one is different. :) Good luck!



answers from Denver on

Hi Brittini,

I really feel this is just a personal preference. I was determined I wanted my kids no farther apart than 2 years in school b/c my siblings and I were only only one year apart in school and we loved it. My sister and I are 11months apart and my brother and I are 16 months apart. My sister and I fought a lot until when we were teenagers, but now are really close. My husband and his brother are about 36 months apart and they have never really gotten along even to this day. That is why we wanted our kids closer. I have decided it is more the family dynamics than the age range that determines if they get along. We started trying for 2 years apart in school and it just did not work out. My kids are about 3.5 years apart and will be 3yrs apart in school. As I look back on it I think it worked out for the better. My daughter was potty trained and able to help with a lot by the time my son was born. I got put on bedrest and had a rough pregnancy, so she was a lot more self-sufficient b/c I was not allowed to lift her. God worked out the timing to be exactly what I needed. Just make a decision and start trying, if it is not meant to be your way, God will intervene and work it out the way He wants it. That is what I learned through my experience. Best of luck with your decision.



answers from Nashville on

My daughter was one month shy of being 2 1/2 when her baby brother was born. It took her about a week to adjust to it all. I think being so young really helped with that transition. Now, she is 6 and my son will soon turn 4 and life is absolutely WONDERFUL. I wouldn't change one single thing about their ages. They play so wonderfully now and they argue so wonderfully as well. ;0) Just yesterday, my son was watching a little song on my husband's phone and my daughter went over to look too and he put his hand up.......she looked at me with her mouth open and said, "see what it's like having a brother!" LOL It was hysterical. But's a great age difference. Good luck with your decision! =0)



answers from Provo on

I don't think age determines how well siblings will get along. I think the mood of the entire home and the temperament of the parents is more of a factor. I also don't think that child spacing should be determined in how many years apart or close you want them. It should be more of a feeling like someone is missing from your family and you are ready to add another member no matter when that feeling comes. Put it in God's hands. Then, I would suggest not "trying" to get pregnant but just quit preventing pregnancy and let it come when it comes. This way is so much more fun, no anticipation for missed periods, no disappointment at negative pregnancy tests, no planning your life years out before the baby is even here. My two kids are 18 months apart and I wouldn't change a thing. They are 9 months and just over two years old now and they already play so well together and my two year old looks out for and takes care of the baby. It's so sweet!



answers from Grand Junction on

This is one of my FAVORITE questions. Although I didn't plan to have my kids so close together (only my middle son was "planned") I never hesitate to tell people how AWESOME it is!

My first son will turn 5 1/2 the same time my 2nd turns 4 and my 3rd turns 2. Yes, there's 3 1/2 years between the 3 of them. IT"S AWESOME!! My older two are BEST friends (being only a year and a half apart) and the baby (almost 2) fits right in. He's close with my almost 4 year old, and my 5 year old loves to baby him and the baby learns well from him because they're not TOO far apart in age.

Another neat thing? They'll all be in high school together. Since my oldest was born in OCT. he missed the cutoff date to start kindergarten by 6 days last year. So, my 2nd will be one year behind him, and my 3rd, two years behind that. In high school, they'll be Senior, Junior, and Freshman. HOW FUN!!

I'm done having kids now and it won't be long before they're all in school and I can start working on my career. Yes, I dealt with bottles and binkies and diapers consistently for 5 years now (when the baby was first born, I had THREE in diapers. ACK!) but now I'm done with bottles and binkies and only have one potty training to go.

I think it's GREAT to have them so close together. I didn't plan it that way, but God sure knew what he was doing!


answers from Pocatello on

I have two little girls and they are almost exactly 2 years apart and Ioved it! I found it to be really easy. My older daughter was already potty trained so that helped with the diaper issue. And she seemed to adjust really well. I think it was the second week after having the baby that she had a few temper tantrums but then she was fine. Loves her baby sister and trys to help all time. Plus I thought it was good to have them close because My oldest still takes naps so I have them napping at the same time everyday which gives me a nice break. My older sister had her first two kids 3 years apart and she hated that she never had down time cause her 3 year old didn't nap anymore. Now my oldest is 3 and my baby girl is 1. they are starting to play really well together which is so nice. And as for the pregnancy I felt that that was good timing too. My daughter was 18 months when I was 2 months pregnant and I remember being sick and just laying on the couch while my daughter would just watch t.v. and play with toys. It was great. But now that she is 3 she is much more bossy. Just the other day I was laying down and she came up to my and said, "Mommy open your eyes right now!" I'm sure whenever you have your next baby things will be fine but as for me I love the 2 year space.


answers from Spokane on

My sister and I are 2 yrs apart and I love it.

My kids are all 2 yrs apart and so far so good, they are 6,4,2.

My step sons are 3 yrs apart and fought a bit growing up, just now at 18 & 15 they are starting to act like they like each other again but are not very close and rarely hang out.

My nephews are 4 yrs apart and fight a lot and have absolutely nothing in common besides genetics.

Now I strongly believe age isn't everything when determining how well siblings get along...each kid has their own temperament and personality, but with that being said, it has been my experience that the larger the age gap the more likely it is that the oldest gets bossy towards the younger one and the younger gets the attitude of "your not the boss of me"....and the oldest is more inclined to feel as if the younger one is too young to do whatever they are doing.---Hope some of that made sense!



answers from Dallas on

A three wants and needs some independence and will relish the idea of helping with the baby. At two your oldest will still want to be THE baby. At three your oldest will push your hands away and say "NO Mommy, Me do it"... So for us, it seemed best to wait until our oldest was ready for independence. My girls are almost 3 years apart and it was ideal.



answers from Boise on

While a lot of the differences could be due to my boys' divergent personalities, I enjoyed having a 2 yr old and a baby better.

My first was just over 2 when #2 came along. He was so sweet and helpful! He'd run to get me diapers and burp cloths and pacifiers. At first we had problems because he really thought that baby brother was going to play with him, and he loved him so much that he'd lay on him.

Now that they're older, my 3 1/2 yr old is so so sad that his big brother gets to go to school and friends' birthday parties and he doesn't. I'm really glad that this stage will be short.

We have a 2 month old now, so I am experiencing the 3 year age gap, too. My 3 yr old is still helpful. He's better at putting a pacifier in the baby's mouth, but less eager to help me get diapers and things. And he still lays on the baby sometimes because he loves him so much.

As for ME, it was harder to get back into the baby mode of waking up in the middle of the night, nursing, etc. after 3 years off. At 2 years, youi're still getting up sometimes at night, you're still in diaper mode, etc. I was really enjoying the freedom of potty trained kids who sleep through the night, and resented having to go back! Of course, I got over that.

It also depends on how many kids you want, I suppose. If you only want 2, then it probably doesn't matter much. I want to have only 2 home all day at a time, but I also don't want to be having babies past about 35. My inlaws have surprise caboose who's still in high school. He was born when MIL was 42. FIL is still working, even though he could be retired by now, because you just can't be retired with a teenager in the house!

I really don't think it's going to make a huge difference either way. But I love how my 2 yrs apart boys play together now, and that little brother who idolizes big brother will be able to do the same things soon.


answers from Dallas on

Hi B.!

I have 2 girls. 2.5 and 4.5 They are exactly 2 yrs apart by 12 days. I have to admit it was pretty tough for the first few months but as they got older it was great! They are now best friends. They are never apart.. They wand to do EVERYTHING together... even when we go to the store or daycare they like to hold hands in the back seat... every night before bed they tell eachother good night, say I love you and give eachother a kiss... I am taking full advantage of this right now as I know it could change when they get older. But they are super close to one another. It makes me feel so lucky!

Best of Luck,

C. P.



answers from Denver on

I have a daughter who just turned 2 in January and I am due with baby # 2 in JUly which will make them 2.5 years apart exactly. I think anywhere between 2-3 years is a great age difference. Any time after 3 years they are too far apart. Remember it may take some time to get pregnant and it is not an exact science so It would be ideal to start somehwhere when the baby is 18-21 months. That way it is more likey the kids will be between 2-3 years and 2.5 osounds like a good compromise btween the both of you. Because really if your husband want to wait 4 extra motnhs will it really matter.


answers from Los Angeles on

You sound just like me. I'm actually pregnant with my second and my daughter just turned two in December. I'm due very beginning of March so they will be about 27 months apart. I had read that children who are 3+ tend to deal better with another sibling coming into the picture than those that are around 2. However, I didn't want to wait that long because we are planning on having more than 2 children and I didn't want the 1st and last really spread out! I can't yet tell you what it's like having children this age group apart, but I have to say my pregnancy has been a lot more difficult. With my daughter it was really easy because there wasn't a 2 year old to chase around. I remember being ready at the end with her, but this time I'm exhausted and can't find the energy to do anything. Who knows if that would be any different if she were older. My brother and I were 18 months apart and EXTREMELY close. Where my sister and I are 4 1/2 years apart and didn't become close until we were adults. That's a big reason my husband and I decided not to wait for our daughter to be closer to 3. I can't imagine it will be easy, but this is a choice my family and I saw would work best for us... and in the end I think that's all that matters.

Good luck!

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