No such thing as an ideal age gap between children

There are pros and cons to having them closer in age. Consider both.

  • By Armin Brott Tribune News Service
  • Monday, December 31, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

Q: My wife and I have a 4-month old baby and my wife already wants to start trying for another one. Is that really a good idea?

A: Unfortunately, there’s no right answer — at least not one that’s “right” for everyone. Many people say that having two children close together makes life easier, while others say it makes an already-stressful situation even more stressful. It’s impossible to predict the age gap that will be best for your family.

But before we get to that, here’s an important question for you: Although your wife is clearly psychologically ready to have another baby, is she physically ready? If your first was born by Cesarean section, there’s a slightly higher risk of uterine rupture (1-2 percent) during the second pregnancy. But C-section or not, her body may not have fully recovered from the first birth. Her OB is the only one who can give you a solid answer.

Assuming that the OB gives you thumbs up, here’s an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of having two babies relatively close together. On the plus side…

They literally grow up together.

Your diaper changing, burping, soothing, rocking, and feeding skills won’t get rusty.

Anecdotally, children who are 18 or fewer months apart may have less sibling rivalry — and be closer emotionally — than those separated by a bigger gap.

They’ll always have a companion. A lot of parents with close-together kids say that this is one of the biggest plusses, because when the kids are entertaining each other, there’s less pressure on you to do so.

As they grow older, they can be each other’s greatest ally.

It could be cheaper. You’ll be able to get double duty out of clothes and toys.

You won’t have to babyproof the house twice.

It might be a little better for your career. If you or your wife were planning to take some extended time off work to be with your children, having two close together reduces the time you’ll be out of the workforce.

On the downside…

The first few years are going to be grueling for both you and your wife. Those sleepless nights and lack of time to yourself (not to mention the back pain) will be extended for another couple of years. If the kids were spaced further apart, you’d (possibly) get a break in between.

You’ll be changing a ton of diapers.

It’ll be hard to carve out undivided, quality time to spend separately with each child.

The kids may resent being treated as a single unit (which frequently happens) and the lack of individual identify.

Having an infant can be tough on a marriage. Having two at the same time isn’t going to help.

One thing I strongly recommend is that you and your wife spend some serious time discussing these issues and how the spacing decision will affect you as a couple and as individuals. It’s not a decision to take lightly, so set aside some time to go over your options.

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