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."
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.