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How Much Time Is Best Between Babies?

How Much Time Is Best Between Babies?

When is the best time to add another child to your family? One year? Five? Or back-to-back, as soon as mom is able to get pregnant again?

Honestly, it depends on the goals you and your partner share for your family.

Do you want your children to play together and have the same interests? Do you want them to all enjoy Dora The Explorer as a group before moving on to the Pokemon phase? Then follow the advice given by Heather F. in the Military Spouses With Children community: "How well they will get along with each other is important. If they are too far apart they will not have anything in common," she writes. "If they are too close together there will be a lot of rivalry and jealousy."

But some moms who have children fairly close together caution that it's not easy to care for a young baby or toddler while pregnant. "If you have a baby who is not sleeping through the night while you're pregnant, that will be really hard on you and your body," advises Danielle B. in the Young Moms Aged 20-30 community. "Not only will you be sleep derived but you'll also be trying to nourish your unborn baby while looking after your infant."And Whitney L., a mom whose two kids are exactly 2 years and 20 days apart, says that "The hardest part about having them that close together was bieng pregnant while my daughter was potty training, and the day-to-day life with a young toddler. "It was exhausting, and my second pregnancy was a lot harder on my body then the first."


Consideration for the possible loss of sleep is an issue echoed by Rachael M., but she's more concerned by how it could impact an older child. "You finally get the first kid on a schedule and sleeping through the night and then you have a baby who wakes the older one up," she writes. "Also you can't give as much attention to the older one anymore and you miss some stuff like maybe their first words or their first steps because you are so preoccupied with the new baby."

At the other end of the spectrum, Samantha A. talks about one of the advantages of having widely-spaced children: getting focused time with each of her babies. Her children are seven years apart.

"My older child was able to be the baby longer and get the undivided attention he wanted," she posts. "I was able to enjoy both of my kids as "babies" for many years without (the) little one having to grow up quicker."

What Can You Actually Handle?

For many moms, the question of how much time to allow between babies isn't emotional, it's practical.

"I would say you want the other one out of diapers," expresses Nakeed S. in the Military Spouses With Children community.

"It will be easier if you wait until the oldest is potty trained," advises Ashley C. in the April 2009 Babies community.

"You just have to ask yourself, do you want a toddler and an infant? Do you want two in diapers? Do you want one in school and a newborn? What do you think you can handle?" asks Katherine K.

For Amanda D., having two girls exactly five years apart in age is the ticket to a well-balanced family.

"The oldest can help when needed and since she's in school now, I can devote some more personal time to the baby without jealousy problems," she shares.

Putting three years between her children helped Nakeed S. eliminate sibling rivalry.

"I feel at that age a child understands that mommy is having another baby and that (she) still loves them," she writes. "A lot of times, it (the new baby) is like a toy to them. They will love the baby, want them sometimes, but won't hurt them because it (the new baby) is special."

What Do the Experts Say?

Aside from considering the family dynamics created by age gaps between children, women wanting more children should take into account some basic biological facts.

A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that having babies too close or too far apart can both pose increased perinatal risks.

"Compared with interpregnancy intervals of 18 to 23 months, interpregnancy intervals shorter than 6 months were associated with increased risks of preterm birth (and) low birth weight," states the article Birth Spacing and Risk of Adverse Perinatal Outcomes. "Interpregnancy intervals shorter than 18 months and longer than 59 months are significantly associated with increased risk of adverse perinatal outcomes. These data suggest that spacing pregnancies could help prevent such adverse perinatal outcomes."

That may be bad news for Natasha M., who says, "Shoot, each time I had mine I was thinking about having more before I left the hospital," she writes.

Natasha's first two children are 14 months apart, and the span between her second and third is 25 months. The baby spacing between numbers 2 and 3 is exactly what Dr. Kristie Leong, a family practice physician who also writes for the online publication HealthMad, recommends:"While it may be tempting to get pregnant as soon as possible after the birth of a child, time is needed between pregnancies to rebuild nutrient stores that may have been depleted by the challenges of eating for two," she writes.

She notes that pregnancy diminishes the levels of calcium, iron and folate stored in a woman's body. Adequate levels of these nutrients are essential for the viability of the next fetus.

"It appears that the time interval which gives the greatest chance for the newborn to be born healthy is between eighteen months and two years. This gives the mother's body a chance to fully recover and successfully deal with the challenges of another pregnancy, but no so long that eggs have had a change to age and become less viable," Leong states.

Each woman is different though. Leong suggests the best planning for spacing babies is done in connection with your doctor.

"If you're confused as to how long to wait between pregnancies, talk to your gynecologist and see what he or she recommends based on your health history."

Image Source: b0r0da via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
PhoebeOzuna PhoebeOzuna 4 years
Both of my kids are 17 yrs apart and I wouldn't want it any other way.No medical problems. Son is 23 and my daughter is 6. I had the chance to love them both equally in different ways and have that one on one parent/child time without jealousies or trying to compete for attention. It works for us and for both of my kids.
emaliecobb77274 emaliecobb77274 5 years
My first two girls are 12 months apart, yes it was tough at first but they are the best of friends now and I wouldnt have it any other way. I am now pregnant with my third and they will be 3 and 4 when she arrives, I also think this is a good age difference. They are soooo excited for their sister's arrival, and I can tell they will be good little helpers when needed.
AmandaJamieson AmandaJamieson 5 years
I had my two girls 3 years and 12 days apart...almost to the exact time of birth. Sure they fight consistently, but with one 10 and one 7, that's to be expected. I think the hardest thing about having my girls so close is doing their is March 7 and the other is March 19. I do 3 b-day parties, not just two. They each have a party to invite their school friends and the third one (which is usually in between the two) is for family. The good thing is that their b-day is over and done with and then they have to wait until Christmas to get more presents....they do get things throughout the year, but not like on their b-day or at Christmas
ClarissaScott67695 ClarissaScott67695 6 years
I have a two year old and my 2nd baby is due in 4 weeks! I couldn't have got it more perfect. sure breast feeding and potty training simultaneously aint easy but hey...a moms attitude and approach to any situation makes or breaks the moment. ADVICE - be responsible, keep rested and sane, live for each day embracing motherhood. God knows some women should be sterilised but others with the common sense for mother instinct can thrive even at doomsday.
JillLelivre JillLelivre 6 years
I am currently trying to get pregnant with baby #4. My 2 oldest are 2 1/2 years (30 months) apart, and my 2nd & 3rd are 2yrs. 3 months (27 months) apart. My 2 oldest play well together and get along for the most part, and my 2 oldest both love and adore there little sister. I think the spacing between children needs to be what works for each individual family. There are so many different factors that can dictate the age spacing between children; from age of one or both parents, illness of a parent or sibling, medical reasons or simply a family's decision to have 2 babies/kids close in age or further apart in age, etc. I love the spacing between my 3 kiddies because it is what works well for our family.
YalanaTuten YalanaTuten 6 years
There is almost 6 years between my oldest and middle sons, due to infertility. I had no problem conceiving my oldest and my third sons, but had a heck of a time getting the second one :s Now, th e2 youngest boys are 15 months apart! My 2 stepdaughters are 15 months apart, and our daughter together will be 15 months younger than the soon-to-be middle girl. I like having them close, because when the older one outgrows something, I can just move it to the younger one's drawer until the last one has outgrown it, then sell it in a yard sale. No more plastic tubs for long term storage, and we get good use out of it for a shorter period of time! Plus, when an older one is learning something, the younger one(s) tend to join in and learn with them.
DianneRuthenberg DianneRuthenberg 6 years
my children are exactly 2 years apart. Daughter born Jan 3rd 2008, son born Jan 2nd 2010. They adore each other. Daughter was at a perfect age to feel to 'big' and 'helpful' by doing the little things (getting the wipes, bib, etc) and i think helping me do things like that made her become more confident in herself. I think 2 years was a perfect gap!
nicolehartgrove nicolehartgrove 6 years
I have two children thirteen months apart. Sometimes God is in charge of our lives. I was going to wait a couple of years before trying again. I had just graduated from college, purchased a new home, and had a beautiful baby boy. We took precautions but my little girl was ready before we were! lol. It took a big toll on my body. When the doctor confirmed the pregnancy I broke down. I had gained 70 pounds with my son and had a rough time. But as my belly grew with time I just made sure that every moment counted with my son. He loved her from the moment she arrived. The first couple of years are kinda fuzzy. She was born very healthy weighing 7lb10oz. And I weighed less when I had her. Now they are 4 and 3 and are best friends. My son went to preschool this year and I tried to make the most out of mother daughter time. Next year they will both go and I will finally get some me time.
MercyDsouza MercyDsouza 6 years
My first two are 17 1/2 months apart and the 2nd and 3rd are 18 1/2 months apart. It was very hard on my body caring for such a young child and being pregnant, especially when they didn't sleep through the night. On the plus side, they are all close in age (3 1/2, 2, and 6 months)and play fairly well together.
JaniceColeman55042 JaniceColeman55042 6 years
I have an 19 month old and I'm 13 weeks pregnant. My hubby and I planned to wait a little longer but surprise! :) I know it will be hard to balance a toddle and newborn but in the long run we are happy that our children will close in age. I really don't believe there is an ideal age gap, there are pros and cons to each. However, biologically waiting 9-18 mo. to get pregnant again is ideal for our bodies. most women don't get their period for the fist 6-12 mo. of breastfeeding, our reproductive system was made that way for a reason.
SaraVerrier SaraVerrier 6 years
I have 13 years between my kids. My girl is 15 and my boy is nearly 2. My daughter is very good with her brother and they have a good bond despite the gap. I wanted another one since my daughter was 2, but it turns out had to wait a while.
NaomiRobinson61565 NaomiRobinson61565 6 years
Well, we have 4 under 4 (3yo, 2yo, 1yo and a 2 month old). This works for us, although I am quick to add that it's not for everyone. Thus far I haven't seen any sibling rivalry, in fact all are happy to be involved in our day to day life. I do make sure that I heap praise on each of them for the little things they do well (tidying, putting things on the bench, using manners etc) so they don't feel like they are being overlooked now another baby is in the house. The only thing you have to be prepared to accept is that from the moment you get up until the moment you go to sleep, you are run off your feet. But the physical dependency is just a phase, soon they will all be off to kinder and school and I'll have to find something else to do with my time. As for how ready your body is to fall pregnant again so quickly, we spoke to our obgyn in length about it and he said that your body knows what it is doing and wouldn't get pregnant if it wasn't ready. Who knows, but it worked for us. Great to see how good it is having bigger age gaps too though.
MaryHoey MaryHoey 6 years
I Have 3 kids .Eldest 2 1/2 and the sec 18months and my youngest been 4months . Its hard work as they are all young and need loads of attention . Would i do it again this close no way . At least i would wait until potty training is done . my 2 boys spend there day fighting over everything and so jealous of each other its madness no matter how much me and my husband try to teach them to care ,share and love each other . Some days i am so stressed i can feel like crying . Bed time is crazy as my 18 month can be so naughty and baby can be crying.Im dreading going back to work dnt know how i will cope at all . Sleep deprived every day i believe my body is now used to it .
nixtopping nixtopping 6 years
I have a 2 year old but am getting 'broody' again and am finding myself wanting another. What has bn said in these articles is very interesting, i feel id prob prefer to wait till she is alittle older out of toddler stage so i can carry on really njoying her toddler stage not rushing it b4 a baby comes and i like the idea of her being an older sister shell understand thigs aswell. The only prob is one gets older and older and wonder if my body will be ok to handle a pregnancy,mmm.
MicheleMcInnis MicheleMcInnis 6 years
I have 2 kids, a son and then a daughter. They are 18.5 years apart (yes I said YEARS). LOL. I love it. My son was finished with college and out on his own before his little sister came along. There is no sibling rivalry of any kind.
CristaMorgan CristaMorgan 6 years
#1 and #2 are 3y 9m apart and I'm expecting #3, who will be 3y6m after #2. I am very happy with the spacing. Gives me more time with youngest child as older one becomes more independent. #2 was potty trained early. I also work part time so need the wide spacing.
wolfcat87 wolfcat87 6 years
My kids were 18 months apart (did not plan it that way) and both were born healthy. My son was even born a week late ;) My 1st was 8lbs 1oz and my 2nd was 7lbs 12oz and they were healthy as can be. But the pregnancy was the easy part. From the oldest still needing attention she couldn't get because the new baby was so demanding to them now being preschool and toddler aged and fighting CONSTANTLY. I wish they were further apart so I could talk good sense into at least one of them. Just yesterday my 4 yr old got bitten 3 times! With the hundreds of toys they have how do they always manage to want the same one at the exact same time? I need a mental health day...
MarieBarnes MarieBarnes 6 years
We have 3 girls each 5 years apart. We didn't plan it that way, but it worked out wonderfully. The jealousy issues aren't really there because they are all in such different places. They help take care of each other and the younger girls adore their big sisters. Of course, having a teenager and a toddler can be exhausting, but it's still worked out better than we planned.
TyarriaPaige TyarriaPaige 6 years
Well its too late for me.. I am five months pregnant and my son Zay is one yr and ten months. My due date is is October 8th and Zay will be 2 yrs old.. idk i am thinking about potty training soon...but i think its a good age between them because at least they be in the same school.
ElizabethEgan5739 ElizabethEgan5739 6 years
My first two are 18 months apart, a boy and a girl. They are the best of friends! My son is very protective of my daughter and my daughter looks up to and admires my son. I can't imagine having done it differently. They even crawl in each others beds at night and cuddle (son is 4 1/2 and daughter almost 3). Just found out I'm pg with #3 and this baby will be 3 1/2 years younger than my daughter. I hope this baby is as close to his/her siblings as they are to each other!
JenniferHartwig JenniferHartwig 6 years
This article is literally what is CONSTANTLY running through my head. My daughter turns 2 in 5 weeks. A year ago I said "At her 2nd birthday we'll probably start trying," but now that's here and I just don't feel ready. I don't want our children to be too far apart in age, but I just don't feel ready to have two children. My husband has basically left it up to me - he is fine with just our one daughter, but he knows I've always wanted two children. So right now, basically I feel like I should for my daughter's sake, but I don't think its the ideal time for my husband and I (also, I work full time and will continue to do so). We also don't live near any family, which makes everything more difficult as far as assistance with care. I worry about completely upending her life, I worry about trying to care for a potty-training toddler and being pregnant/having an infant, and I worry about have two at home and keeping my head in my job. I'm so confused and I know a lot of people feel this way. We feel pressured to have a second one within a year or two, but we just don't feel ready.
KarnadeVilliers KarnadeVilliers 6 years
I have 5 kids. Although we wanted our children closer together, it didn't happen. So the smallest age gap is 2 and a half years, and the biggest 3 years and 3 months, with a total age gap of 11 years and 4 months between the oldest and youngest. I actually found that the age gap is only easier or more difficult depending on the last baby's personality. The relaxed, easy going ones coped wonderfully. The more demanding one, struggled a bit. So I would suggest looking at your child's personality. And if they are too young to know for sure, go with your own gut feeling of what you are prepared to go with. Nobody else should decide for you. And for anyone scared that a huge gap will keep your children from being friends - is not necessarily true. I differ 5 years from my brother, and 10 years from my sister. As children our different developmental phases did cause some problems sometimes, but now that we are adults - we are good friends. It depends on the parents - how much they help their children and teach them to respect and love one another.
reginabellow reginabellow 6 years
OK I have 4 kids. The my first 3 boys are all 9 years apart and my daughter is 18 months younger then the baby boy. No it was not planed that way But it works for me. They all get along I have my 14-4-1/2- and 3 year old still at home. And the 14 year old loves playing with the younger ones. When he gets home from school. Thee younger ones are all over him. My two younger ones also play well together and they really look after each other if one gets a snack they make sure that the other one gets one as well. It was a little hard at first with the two little ones at first if I was holding one then the other. Wanted me to hold them as well...:) But I love it when the oldest comes to visit they all get along. And the younger ones love to see the older one(23-1/2).And he loves Andorra do mean loves to be around them.. so like I said it works for me.
JanelleBooker JanelleBooker 6 years
My 2 are 22 months apart. And to me it has been a dream. My eldest (a girl) right from the day I came home from hospital wanted to help. She would get me a pillow to put under my son while I was breast feeding; wanted to help change nappies, help bath him. They are fighting a little bit now the youngest has just turned 1, but that is to be expected. All in all I think the gap has been great. They are already becoming really good mates!!!
ShonaReicheneder ShonaReicheneder 6 years
I have 2 babies aged 16 months and 3 months (13 months appart), or oldest would put blankets on his sister, help to rock his sister in the bouncer, try to read to his sister and blow kisses to his sister but our oldest the 16 month old hit a jealousy stage a short while ago, kept stealing his sisters bottles, dummies and blankets - this started when my husband went back to work and he relised he had to share mummy-thankfully it only lasted about a week and he is back to his old self.
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