Experience/Feedback On Age Differences Between Siblings - Help Us Decide!!

Updated on March 25, 2011
A.W. asks from Minneapolis, MN
24 answers

Hi! I am a 36 year old mom of 3 ... let me start by explaining that we NEVER intended to have 3. My husband and I both came from families of 2 and were 100% decided on having 2 children ourselves. However, we struggled to get pregnant and, when it happened (thankfully!), we knew we would try right away for another since it took so long the first time (and we needed help). So ... it was not a giant shock when we found out we were having twins the second time around. Voila! Our 3rd was just meant to be (my mom always said I was an overachiever :)). With 3 kids under the age of 2 (yes, the twins were born before my first was even 2!), I couldn't even get my teeth brushed by 2 pm, let alone consider another child. But now the twins are 4 and my oldest is 5. And we SO wish we had a 2 year old. Alas, we can't birth a two year old. The dynamics of 3 are tough - someone is ALWAYS left out (interestingly enough, it changes as to which one is left out). And my husband I realized about a year ago that our family doesn't feel "complete". It took us by surprise. So we started to try ... but the same fertility problems exist. We refuse to explore any option that could possibly result in multiples. Now we're wondering how much longer to try before we just give up. We have 3 healthy kiddos and recognize just how lucky we are. My concern is the age difference ... if I were to get preggo immediately, there would be an almost 5 year age gap to the twins and 6.5 years to my oldest. How would that impact our family?? Any thoughts?? (please be kind)

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So What Happened?

I love everyone's thought-provoking responses ... so interesting to see the variety. For those of you that are now super close to your siblings - was this throughout your childhood or only as adults? My oldest (5) is a boy and probably the one LEAST interested in a baby around. I also very much appreciated the perspective about the baby being taken around to activities for the older ones ... something I had not really thought through. Thanks!!

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

I have six kids no twins.... age gaps are 35 months, 27 months, 17 months, 5 years, 3 1/2 years.... All with the same dad. The gaps are not that bad when you have older kids around to help with the baby it is a good thing.
I too know the feeling that the family does not quite feel complete hence six kids Good Luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I come from a family of 5 kids. I'm # 4 :)
Ages go like this..
30,29,28,26, 21...

Ya see that gap between me and my younger sister? it's almost exactly 5 years. My oldest sister & the youngest are 9 years apart. We all get along great. Really, we're all best buds. We talk to each other every day, literally.
I think the age isn't what makes siblings close. Although it can help, Its more how they interact with each other.

They'll be fine :)

Oh and Good Luck on #4!!!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Milwaukee on

our family growing had four kids. my older sister was 7 years older than me, my brother was 5 years older than me and my young sister was two years younger than me. all we all managed fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think each gap has its own challenge and its own price.
People is great for adapting, I wouldn't be worry about that. If you and your husband are in the same page of having a big family, if you both have the love, time and money that another child would need, other else will find its place.
My kids are 13 and 2, talk about gap, lol.
We too have some problems to have our little princes, and I worried that we wait for so long, and to have one when the older was so close to the teens, etc.
It all make perfect sense for us, it seems so natural.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think that if you really want a 4th, you should go for it. The older three would likely be a great help to you. As far as it solving the problem of somebody not being left out, at this point, there will be quite an age difference so it would be a long time before the baby could play with anyone. Otherwise, the impact would be making it harder to go places, traveling, or even just taking your older kids to activities etc...I am experiencing that now when I have to drag my 18 month old along to his older siblings sporting events. It is stressful and a hassle, but still it's worth every minute. Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Youngstown on

I have 3 boys ages 8,5,and 11.5 months. The older 2 are 3 years and 1 week apart and super close.Sure they fight like crazy but they always have each other to play with. I often don't know whats worse them getting along or fighting..lol They are 7 3/4 and 4 3/4 years older than their baby brother. It was so nice when I had the baby because the big boys were somewhat self contained. I bought snacks and tons of juice boxes so if I was busy with the baby they could get that kind of stuff themselves. They also didn't want my attention as much they were much more focused on the baby..lol When I had #2 it was hard because #1 was only 3..just 3 so he needed me for basicaly everything but lucky for me he is an easygoing kid. I have to say it's nice to be home with the baby all alone and I also leave the baby with my husband sometimes and do stuff with my big guys! I do worry about the baby not having a buddy to play with like his brothers have each other and they will be too old to play with him when he is ready to play with others BUT I don't think I want another child...ask me in a year and I may have baby fever again! I say do whatever you and your husband feel is best for you. Don't worry about the age difference 6.5 years isn't really that far apart when you think about it. I have to add that I took my infant to my 8yo football practice 5 days a week for months and it wasn't as bad as you would think and he goes everywhere I go since my husband works out of town a lot and it really hasn't been an issue I just make sure I have my stroller , toys . and snacks!


answers from Columbus on

I was also worried about the age gap, when we unexpectedly were expecting! We had our older kids (3 in 3years). It was crazy, but we liked having them close in age. While there are definite challenges, the older kids are absolutely in love with my toddler! They are so incredibly helpful, I am so grateful! My oldest is even such a nervous nelly with her, that I have to tell him to chill out! :) We took her to the beach and he kept telling me I was going out too far in the water.......or he freaked out when I took her on the jetski with me (slow and with a life jacket). It's kind of funny. Being such a good big brother will not doubt make him a great dad one day.

Our challenges probably stem more from the fact that we have no family or friends we can call up to watch the toddler while we go to a movie, or spend an entire day at a baseball tournament. I feel bad that we can't do these things. I feel bad for my oldest, who's in many sports, that my hubby and I have to "tag team" most of the time - instead of us both being at the activities. The kids say they don't mind, and maybe they really don't. It could be more of that "mommy guilt" that plagues us!!!!
Also, my toddler spends A LOT of time in the vehicle! She's really good about it. (What would I DO without DVD players in the car?!?) She gets schlepped around to so many different activities, lessons, etc. There are days where she wakes up- gets in the suburban. Goes down for a nap, wakes up- gets in the suburban. Her whole day, almost, is driving around.

I am delighted every day I see my oldest with his baby sister. They have a very strong and unique bond. It makes me sad that by the time she's 8, my oldest will be heading off to college. I pray they keep that bond. But, no doubt, she will miss him horribly. But, they will be best buds for now :)

I also joke that my youngest is like an only child.....with bad older influences! The worst of both worlds! LOL! She's spoiled rotten, plus, she will mature faster, having older siblings- could be a recipe for disaster! For example, she can sing most of the lyrics to "The Time", by The Black Eyed Peas!! No "Wheels on the Bus" for her! Yeah, recipe for disaster........ha ha.

Only you can decided on a 4th child, but I just thought I would mention our experience with the age gap. I wish you the best of luck, either way.


answers from Columbus on

My two sons are 5 years apart and although they're starting to get along now that my youngest started walking and its not a baby anymore (17 months), I think my 6yr old feels a little restricted sometimes because I can't do some things with him anymore, if my husband can't stay with the baby.
For example, I can't take him to the movies anymore, because I can't take the 17 mo old to the movie teather. I can't take him to an amusement park, unless another adult or my husband is with me to keep the baby while I ride with him, etc. Just little things that the oldest ones will have to sacrifice until the baby grows (baby friendly vacations and entertaiment).
I love my baby very much, but I wish I hadn't waited that long in between kids, but it also worked for us in terms of not having to pay for 2 daycares, diapers for 2 and things like that.
Good luck!


answers from Santa Fe on

Our kids are 5 and half years apart and we think it's just great! Our son is old enough to help and to not get super jealous (or he can better manage his feelings now). He LOVES showing off his cute baby sister to his friends. And he is old enough to remember to go get her another toy and trade with her when she grabs something of his that he does not want her to have. She just adores her big brother and loves him to death. She tries to copy everything he does which is pretty cute. I do miss that I can't just run out and hike a trail or go bike riding with my oldest when it is nap time for the little one...we are now not quite as mobile. But I know time goes by fast and we'll be there soon enough. Anyway, I see zero problem with that kind of age gap. There are pluses and minuses to EVERY age difference and you can choose to focus more on the positives or the negatives. Good luck getting pregnant! I hope it works out for you!!!!!!


answers from Richmond on

The ONLY negative to the age gap is potty training again!!

I am the eldest of 3 kids... my middle brother is barely 2 years younger than me, and my baby brother is 7 years younger than me. Same gap as your kids (if #4 comes along). Growing up, I was naturally closer to the middle brother... now, I'm MUCH closer to my brother 7 years younger than me!!

My kids just happened to have the same age gap. My girls are 21 months apart, and the baby is 7 years younger than my oldest. Of course the girls are close (people mistake them for twins all the time), but they are SO super sweet to the baby and the baby loves his big sisters to pieces!!

From those 2 examples, having lived it, I personally think it's a wonderful age gap :) Good luck with the baby making!!



answers from New York on

There is a +/- 2 year age difference between my siblings and I am the odd man out - I came after 7.5 years and am the baby. At 40, I will ALWAYS be the baby, which sucks. BUt hey - I can't change it.

When I think of age differences, I think about all of the people who have a baby and then suffer from secondary infertility for years. then finally have a second. I have nephews that are 7 or 8 years apart for that reason - all is great with them. The older one is protective and teaches and learned a lot of patience from getting a brother at 7 after being an only for so long.

So I say - go for it. If you and your hubby want another baby - how wonderful - what a blessing! Go for it!



answers from Indianapolis on

We have a 10 year old, 7 year old and a 9 month old. I can't tell you how much this whole "age gap" issue has hit a nerve with me. I love the age differences. My husband is the last of three boys and he has a 10 year and 6 year age gap between his brothers. He and his 6 year older brother fought a lot as kids, but they have been close when he moved away to college and are still very close. It was kind of funny because even though his family was the exact same makeup as our current situation, he was so worried about this "age gap" to the point where he went through a serious depression (all because of these over analytical people on mamapedia that want the perfect family with the perfect age spacing which in my mind doesn't exist). Siblings will get along or not get along because of their personalities - not because of their ages. Some people can't choose the spacing perfectly for their children (we had trouble with fertility with all our kids and this last one happened without any fertility treatments and I was 40 years old). If you want another and can afford to raise him or her, you should have another. I found it very easy to take the baby along everywhere we go and we haven't stopped doing the things we always have done (he went to Disneyworld at 3 months and we are going again this month and going on a cruise in June). It will be a little more work, but isn't anything worthwhile a little work? The older kids will love having a little baby around, and I'm sure they will always be great friends even when older.



answers from Toledo on

There is 3 years difference between me and my older sister, and 8 years between me and my younger sister. I am extremely close with both! Do not worry about the age difference ! Good luck!



answers from Cleveland on

I have 2 boys that are 9 & 6, and an 9 month old baby girl - i love the differences in age - the boys just adore the baby, and they are sooooo good with her - it is almost like having a live-in nanny - they like to hold her and play with her, definitely helps me get a lot more done. I also LOVE having time alone with her during the day while the boys are at school - I really feel like I never had that time with the boys, first because i was working, and once the 2nd one came along, i really had to split my time between the two. its so nice to be able to focus on the baby & have a lot of fun with her!

good luck with whatever you decide - i'll keep your family in my prayers :)




answers from Cleveland on

My younger brother and I are 5 years apart and we have a younger sister ten years younger than I am. We are very close. I also have an older sister 4 years older and brother 7years older.
I've always been close with my siblings but especially now that we have lost our mother. Family is so important!



answers from Lafayette on

Have you considered adopting a 2 year old?

Otherwise, I would suggest trying as long as you're comfortable. And if it doesn't happen, try to really celebrate your family and the size that it is. If you are feeling like you're still missing something, volunteer at a daycare or a church once or twice a week. Get that "kid" fix.

It's hard to know when a family is complete. Just whatever happens or whatever you decide, embrace it fully & happily!



answers from Toledo on

I have two ideas:
1 (technical): make a list of pros and cons
2 (emotional): I have met many people who wished they would have had more, but not one couple who wished they would've had fewer kids (well, at least they didn't admit it if they did!).

We have 4 kids (ages 7, 4, 2, and 3 months) and it's great fun. We're thinking of having more, also.



answers from Toledo on

I think its really different with each family and set of personalities. My kids are 10, 7, 2 (she'll be 3 in May) and 16 months. My three oldest are girls and my baby is a boy. The older two have always had a love/hate relationship, but its steering more toward the "hate" end as the oldest nears puberty unfortunately. The 10 & 2 year olds seem to get along great, as do the 7 y/o & the baby. The 7 & 2 y/o butt heads more often than not, and usually just stay away from each other (unless of course one has something that the other wants, lol). The younger two can be best friends and worst enemies all in the same hour. I always thought that 3 years was the "perfect" gap so that is how we planned things (though #3 came a bit later than we had hoped). Having two as close as my younger two was always a fear of mine. Now that I'm in the midst of this crazy thing called life though, I can honestly say that if I had it to do over again, I would consider having them all close together. Its not as bad as I had led myself to believe it would be.



answers from Cleveland on

My dds are 5.5 years apart. They do not get along 80% of the time. I don't know if that is because of the age difference or that is just their personalities. My oldest one finds my youngest to be annoying. I do keep my youngest away from the oldest especially when the oldest has friends over. Sometimes my youngest just asking my oldest a question will just set them off.

I have a twin sister but also seven half-brothers and two half-sisters (my dad divorced once--had one kid from that marriage--then his second wife died--5 kids from that marriage, my mom's first husband died--three kids). They range in age from 8 years older to 30 years older than my sister and me. Six of my half brothers still lived at home when my sister and I were born. Because my parents' spouses were deceased, there was no splitting of time with other families so my siblings were always with our family. With the 3 oldest siblings, there really isn't a sibling relationship with them. My oldest brother even commented at my dad's funeral during his speech that my sister and I are more like nieces to him. That really hurt to hear.

Because of my siblings being older than me, that also means that my nieces and nephews are much older than my kids (my twin has no children). My youngest nephew (my youngest brother's son) is at least 13 years older than my oldest dd. There is no cousin relationship between my kids and my siblings' kids. That really upsets my oldest because a lot of her friends hang out with their cousins who are close in age. I'm sure when my youngest gets older, it will also bother her.

I know my family's situation is a bit different than yours but the 8 year gap between my youngest brother and me is pretty close to the gap that your kids would have. From my perspective, I wish there wasn't such an age difference between my sister and I and our siblings. I think we would have a closer relationship.



answers from Cincinnati on

Congratulations on your family of five, and any additional members God grants to you. He's the Giver of Life; it's Him from whom you should be seeking advice. (although it's fun to hear from other people too!)


answers from Albany on

I think it's lovely that you want/can afford/ are prepared for/ have the option of a 4th child.

I have three and would've loved another.

Yes, your family dynamics will change. You will all adjust, families do adjust.

(Just for the sake of argument, having the 3rd guy out, like you do now, and us too, can actually be a GOOD thing for your kids. It instills a sense of community and respect that other people's issue may be more pressing than your own, which you could call patience and humility, traits we would all like our children to possess, right?) But you don't need a specific number to achieve that, you only need more than one!

I say go for it, I wish I could've, and I wish you Happy Fertility!

Have a great time trying!



answers from Dallas on

As someone else mentioned, personality probably has more to do with it than anything else, but for what it's worth, I think that if you and your family don't feel your family is complete then you should try for another. I have two boys that are 6.5 years apart. Like you, we struggled to get pregnant the first time and had to have help. Then I had complications and didn't expect to have any more children. Years later we were shocked when I got pregnant. We were thrilled to have our second, but I was concerned about the age difference. It has been wonderful! There has been no jealousy; they have never been interested in the same toys at the same time, so there is no fighting over toys. My oldest is loving and protective of his younger brother, and my youngest idolizes his older sibling. I keep waiting for a time when they will irritate each other, but it hasn't happened yet. They are 13 and 6 (almost 7) now. Despite the age difference, they love spending time together and are very close. My oldest is extremely laid back, and my youngest is extremely high strung. My oldest knows how to help my youngest work through his frustrations. Anyway, if you decide to expand your family, it will work out. You sound like a happy, loving family, and that's really all you need. :)


answers from Tampa on

I'm 21 weeks pregnant with #2 and my daughter will turn 6 y/o shortly after the birth. This arrangement could not have turned out better!! My daughter is excited, practicing her Big Sister skills on every single child and baby she sees, knows she will be expected to help Mommy with many things, and since I've been a Nanny in the past for 3 years, I know she'll be a great help.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Personally, I think the age gap is what you make of it. Either they will all be happy with each other or they won't, if they are not close as kids they likely will be as adults. The oldest may take on more of a caretaker role vs a sibling role simply because they will be more able to help. I would not stress about it, all families are different and happen for a reason. If you want to expand your family go for it and good luck.

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