Ideal Child Spacing

I’m thrilled with the discussion generated by last week’s Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me? reader question:  When’s the best time to start a family? The consensus:  yes, there are valid reasons to postpone or try to “schedule” the arrival of children, but

1) don’t count on it happening or not happening as you plan it, and

2) children are a blessing whenever they come!

This week’s question is a continuation of those thoughts:  Is there an ideal child spacing?

Again, this is a highly personal question, and there are certainly no “right” answers!

My own story:  When our first-born was nine months old, we got pregnant with our second.  I was a little nervous about having children just 18 months apart, but we were so excited that it happened quickly this time after dealing with infertility for three years before our first was conceived.

Eleven weeks into that pregnancy, we miscarried the baby.

At that moment, it didn’t matter if the children were 18 months or 10 months or 2 days apart.  We were mourning the loss of our baby.  That experience sold me on the thought that there is no right spacing of children.

Our four children are 27 months apart, 23 months apart, and 3+ years apart.  I will say that for me, I prefer the 2 year distance over the 3 year distance.  Although it was kind of nice to have that extra year of routine and sleep and freedom before adding a new baby, it was also an extra year to be out of the baby routine.

We’ve adjusted just fine and certainly wouldn’t have it any other way, but most definitely felt the “jolt” of a new baby more with #4 than we did with any of the others.

On the flip side, I’m sure we would have adapted to closer spacing if that’s what God gave us, but my hat tips to my friends with 4 children 6 and under.  My own mother had all four of us in less than 5 years.  Whew!  I’m not sure if I have the energy for that.  ;)  And physically, I think it would take quite a toll on Mama’s body!

Speaking of Mama’s body, I don’t have the stats handy, but there is research about frequency of miscarriage and premature birth linked to super-close child spacing.  A little rest between children is likely not a bad thing.

What about you?  Do you wish you would have tried to space your children differently?  What would you tell a newly-married couple about child spacing?  What do you wish someone would have told you?

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Comments

  1. Pre-children I thought it would be ideal to have #1 potty trained before #2 arrived and so on. Post children I realized what a relief it was that #1 was NOT shrieking for help with his pants to go potty while I was chained to the couch breast feeding #2. I quite enjoyed having him still in diapers not interested in the potty at all during that period when I was no longer available at the bat of an eye. BUT I still think if #1 has too long alone as the center of everyone’s world it’s a much ruder intrusion when #2 comes along. I have been happy with 28 months apart. We are working hard on #3, we missed the opportunity to be 28 months again. I’m more worried the longer it takes, but i’d rather have #3 further apart than not at all. :)

    • I got lucky with my first because she was such an early potty trainer. She was completely independent by the time her brother arrived. I do know what you’re saying, though. It’s a struggle to hop up during a nursing session to tend to the bigger kids.

  2. When our 4th is born in August our oldest will be 4 years and 3 months old. I know we are a huge exception to the “rules” about child spacing, but we’re really enjoying our children being close in age. Of course, I haven’t spent through the night in 4 years and my husband has very few times. However, since we were not extremely young when we began having children (25 & 29) and desired a large(r than average) family we would rather deal with the lack of sleep all at one time and still be young enough to play with our youngest children than to space them out farther.

    We are still desiring one or two more children if God chooses to bless us with them and would choose to have them within the next three years. however, we know that ultimately that choice is not up to us :)

    I will admit that nursing for four years straight has not always been easy, but at least I have some forced down time through the day! Also, while I’ve noticed a little more soreness and discomfort with each pregnancy I still have very easy pregnancies and I’m not sure if the difference is due to the closeness of occurring or the fact that I’m simply getting older.

    Above all, I agree with Amy. Children are definitely always a blessing, no matter when they are born!!!!

  3. My oldest is almost 4 years older than my second child. The other 3 are barely 2 years apart. I think I prefer not getting out of “baby mode” before having the other ones. I liked still being in the diaper changing routine and not storing all the baby “junk” for too long. There is something to be said about the older kids being able to be excited and understand what a new baby means though. What I really care about is that once #4 is out of diapers, I am going to jump for joy!!

  4. I recently gave birth to my second and now have a 2-year-old and a 7-week-old. As soon as we started announcing our second pregnancy, all anyone ever wanted to tell us was how hard it would be and how busy we would become and, honestly, I was a bit discouraged and fearful of what it would be like. But for us I think the spacing seems to be working out just fine. Sure, it’s a lot of work — but I think it would be that way no matter what — and I personally am enjoying watching my toddler turn into more of an independent kid (though she does sometimes seem to grow up a little faster than I’d like) and interact with her new baby brother. And to be totally honest, I’m already looking forward to adding #3 to the mix (…though my husband isn’t convinced…yet…).

    Interestingly, I have been told by my OB after both my babies that it is best for my own body to wait at least 1 year between pregnancies. I was told it gives your uterus more time to recover.

    • Oh, I’m sad that people were so discouraging. That’s the last thing mom needs to hear! And you’re right, it’s a lot of work no matter when baby arrives.

      I’ve read and heard the same thing about giving your body time to recover. I think that’s why, with ecological breastfeeding, most women can delay their cycle for about a year. Interesting!

  5. My four boys are 7,4,2, and 1. We totally planned the first three and then number four was our surprise blessing. The last two are barely a year apart. It seems like the last year has been a blur b/c I was always changing, feeding, etc. My 2 year old was 2 months early so they seemed even closer together as he was still catching up with his milestones when #4 was born. I wouldn’t change anything now, but admittedly, it was hard and I found it harder to heal my body after being pregnant for two years. For that reason and just the idea of having more time to actually enjoy their “babyhood” I would try to space them out a bit more in the future. I still get a lot of people asking if they are twins and commenting on how badly I must want a girl to have them so close together. Actually, I totally love having all boys and wouldn’t change a thing. :)

    • Ahhhh, you have first hand experience a couple different spacings. Thanks for sharing! (And yes… pregnancy is so hard on the body!)

  6. I had hoped my children would be less than three years apart. My sister and were about 2.5 years apart and it seemed to work. My husband and his sister were four years apart and as a result they almost never had anything in common or did anything but fight. But since I miscarried last month, it’s likely our children will be closer to three years apart in age. I’m still hoping it won’t be more than that. For me the key was making sure my daughter was sleeping through the night before we even considered another baby. We also had to wait for my husband to recover from a severe recurrence of his clinical depression.

  7. My sister had 4 pregnancies in 5 years, but she lost one of them. All three of her kids were via C-Section. Her first was early and then each one came earlier than the next. After her youngest was born, her doctor told that she better not get pregnant for the next five years because her lining was so thin and that she wasn’t allowing her body to fully recover between pregnancies. So for that reason, I do think that it’s good to have a few years in between kids.

  8. (As you know), my first two children are ten months apart… and the second of those arrived way too early. I have heard “close spacing” can contribute to prematurity and, as a result, have beaten myself up about it over and over and over. (Along with my less than significant weight gain and refusal to adhere to a lifting restriction that would have prohibited picking up my infant.) So… while I don’t doubt the validity of the studies, I must admit that every time I read about it, I get sad. :( In the end, though, I don’t believe in ideal spacing. That “golden gap” of 2-3 years comes with its own challenges, just like anything else. My SILs have LARGE gaps between their babies (7 and 9 years, respectively) and, while it’s not what I ever hoped for for my own family, I can see many true advantages there too. No doubt… babies are blessings! It’s that simple to me. :)

    • Stop it! No beating yourself up. No getting sad. Just look at her ornery grin (I know she has one… I’ve seen it ;) ) and know that she’s here, and she’s perfect, and she’s YOURS. It’s all good!

  9. My kiddos are 2 and 3 years old-only 12.5 months apart. Our second child was a huge surprise blessing!! At first I was really afraid and nervous as to how I would manage with a one year old and a newborn but things worked out perfectly. My one year old daughter napped 2x a day and thus I could pretty much guarantee at least one nap for me!! My son was also a great sleeper from the beginning so maybe that is what helped to keep me sane that first six months!

    • Um, should I admit that I would panic, too? ;) But yes, if the 1 year old is in a good napping routine, that would be even easier than having a 2 or 3 year old. A positive in every situation!

    • We have a similar situation- my son came along just 15 months after my daughter. But my daughter is a stinker and gave up her second nap before she was even a year old. She still napped well in the afternoon, but it seemed like I rarely had a break for the first few months. Even now, my son is almost a year old, and they still tag team some days. He is unsure about whether he wants to go to one nap or stick with two, so every day is something different. I’m looking forward to having them both nap at the same time each day. I also felt a little afraid and nervous. I really was not happy about being pregnant pretty much the whole time. It was hard for me to tell people because I often heard discouraging remarks aimed at my apparent inability to control my reproductive self. I often felt that people looked down on me, as if I was some unwed teenager (which is totally not true. Son was born when I was 25 and we have been happily married for 6 years). Even now when I go out with my two year old and one year old, I often hear people say “well don’t you have your hands full?” I also tend a 4 month old during the day, and one time on an outing with all three children, 1 dirty old man asked what my husband and I did in our free time. Despite all of that, we are considering having another soon. We aren’t sure if we want three or four kids total, so we want to have the third in case we decide we are done, than we won’t have one that feels left out because the sibs are so much older. If we knew for sure we wanted 4, we would wait a bit longer and do another set close together.

  10. My husband & I started ttc as soon as we got married (he was 37 & I was 28) and it thankfully only took us 3 months. We had our second son three weeks before our first son’s second birthday, and my husband left a month later for a one year deployment to Iraq. I had complications with my pregnancies & my OB told us he was surprised I had even been able to get pregnant & that it would be a miracle if I had any more. Our third son was born when the second was 26 months, obviously God knew more than the OB! I had a miscarriage when the third was 18 months and another miscarriage when he was 3. The second miscarriage was harder than the first, because we had resigned ourselves to the fact that God was finished building our family. Shortly after the second miscarriage, I got pregnant again, this time with a baby girl! She was born 6 weeks early, a month before our third son’s 4th birthday. As hard as it was to be pregnant and/or nursing for 6+ years, getting back into it after a 2 year break was harder! I do not have easy pregnancies, but I am extremely grateful for our four precious children. Our daughter is 6 months old, so only God knows if He has more in store for us!

  11. I read somewhere that it takes your body a whole 18 months to recover between pregnancies. My daughter is 21 months old and my hubby is finally thinking about adding another addition to our family. In our town the average family size is probably 6 and they often have them very close together. I need a mental break just as much as a physical break. For me, I’d like our kids to be about 3 years apart but of course I would love it to be a bit sooner and definitely later rather than never. I had a pretty easy time getting pregnant the first time and I know that it might not always work out that way. Loving this series, Amy :)!

  12. Our four children are presently 11,8,5 and 2…somewhere between 2.11 years and 3.4 years between each. Most interesting is the fact that we haven’t used birth control for 12 years, and that our children have arrived at this interval simply using extended nursing as our “spacing method.” I always get pregnant again when the “baby” is a bit over 2 and nursing far less. One blessing is that the older child always weans during the pregnancy, has always been fully potty trained by the time the baby arrives, and is always old enough to enjoy the baby’s arrival rather than feeling upstaged. The only difficulty, in my mind, of having more distance between children is that the interests of an 11 year old are so much different than the interests of a two year old. :) And…it does feel a bit like perpetual baby mode in the household…but, I really LIKE baby mode, so that suits me. :)

    • There are definitely challenges as the older children get involved in more outside activities. I’m already planning my baseball/softball “stash” to keep the baby entertained during games this summer.

  13. If we are talking ideals, I like two years apart. But we live in a world where ideals don’t always happen. Children are a blessing no matter what, as you said. And even when we want them we don’t always get them. I have seven children, and have had seven miscarriages, leaving 4 year gaps between some of the children. Believe me, it is amazing what you can forget in four years. I used to be very strong that the Lord should be the one to determine size and timing, and still feel that way for my family, but have so much more grace for differences. I only have two challenges for those not wanting children. The first would be to really check into what type of birth control is being used. Some cause early abortion and some are very bad for your health. The second challenge would be to examine motives. We live in a materialistic world that says we have to have everything to be happy. This is simply not true. But motives are between an individual and God. Thanks for your thoughtful post, especially concerning what could be a controversial subject.

    • Yes, yes, and yes. We are talking ideals just for fun and for those readers who don’t have children yet, but I really appreciate how the “children are a blessing” theme keeps coming back to the surface of the discussion!

  14. My two are 26 months apart. Right now, that feels a little too close together; I wish my daughter had been potty trained before the baby came along. She’s also really going through the terrible 2s + having a new sibling and not getting all the attention. But I am really thinking that in the long run it will be wonderful and they will be great playmates. I hope!

    • I will also add, when thinking about a #3 I am way more hesitant about being pregnant again than about having more kids. I love my babies … I am just not a good pregnant woman.

      • Vanderbilt Wife, I totally understand the pregnancy part as I feel VERY sick the first 3 months. I will say as far as terrible 2′s and struggling with siblings getting attention, I have found that they actually do better when they are younger and have a sibling. At least that is how it has been in our family. Doesn’t help the diapering situation though!

      • Sarah B says:

        I was very sick with my first and second, but my husband says with each pregnancy I seem to become immune as I have become less sick with each pregnancy!

      • I feel the same way! In my experience, having a newborn is about 1000 times easier than being pregnant…even with the sleeplessness, non-stop nursing sessions, etc.

    • It will be wonderful! And even though she’s going through some terrible twos, how precious are they together?! ;)

  15. I have two boys, 4 and 2 and I love the spacing between them. I definitely plan to have more and feel a little left out because I have friends with kids the same ages who are having #3, but I just don’t feel the time is right. I am loving having my body to myself for now and trying to get in the best shape possible before we have another baby.

    It really has to be up to the couple…

    • It most definitely needs to be up to the couple for when to try, and I enjoy reading all these comments from people who are blessed in every circumstance.

  16. What an interesting discussion! I don’t think there is an ideal–it’s a combination of individual preference and how you’re blessed with them! Some things you can’t control. :)

    We have 4 girls and 1 boy–distance apart is 19 mos, 22mos, 22 mos, 28 mos. (age 7, 6, 4, 2, and 4 weeks.) I think going from 1 kid to 2 is quite an adjustment, no matter the age difference! For me, the extra time between #4 and #5 has been harder, like someone else mentioned, #4 is finally interested in potty training, and I don’t have time to focus on that right now! If I had myself better organized, the distance between #3 and #4 (both girls) would be great, because clothes can pretty much go from #3′s drawer into #4′s without having to be stored. We wanted a large family, with kids fairly close in age so they could grow up together, and they mostly do very well playing with each other. We are very blessed!

    I have a good friend who has 2 kiddos–6 years apart. She and her siblings were all 7 or more years apart, and they LOVE it that way, and I can definitely see some benefits to that spacing, as well. :)

  17. I agree wholeheartedly that, whatever the spacing or timing, children are a blessing–God’s word promises that! I don’t think that means everyone is supposed to have a large family, but it does mean that they can count on God to equip them for whatever happens.
    I think it’s worth pointing out, as you do, that many pregnancies spaced close together do dramatically increase the risk of miscarriage, complications, premature birth, and even maternal/fetal/infant mortality. Wider spacing of pregnancies is one reason that today’s Western woman can actually assume that she and the child she’s carrying will survive pregnancy and childbirth.
    I have a friend who’s a La Leche League leader, and she recently mentioned that LLL says that it actually takes 3 years minimum for a woman’s body to completely recover from pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding–and that time increases with more pregnancies, complications, extended breastfeeding, etc.

  18. We miscarried our first a year into our marriage. Just 6 weeks after that we were blessed with another pregnancy. Chloe was just 9 months old when we found out we were expecting again. There is 18 months between the two of them and I love how close they are!
    We’re expecting baby #3 this month. There will be 2 1/2 years in between our new arrival and John. Chloe just turned 4. I’m excited and nervous but happy that they’re close in age :)

  19. Right now we have four kids under the age of five. We have one boy (the oldest) and three girls. They are 13 months, 24 months, and 17 months apart (4.5, 3.5, 21 months and 4 months old). It has been an absolute blessing to have all of them and have them all this close together. I constantly get the “oh you must have your hands full” comment – which just drives me up the wall by the way! – but it really isn’t crazy or anything.

  20. Oh my goodness, YES. I would have done things differently. My oldest two are two years apart, which is wonderful. They are 19 and 17 and are truly best friends. Our third came four years after our second, and she feels left out all the time. She’s like an only child, and I really feel badly for her. I wish we either would have not waited so long (although I was suffering from post partum depression and wasn’t sure I’d even HAVE a third child) or I wish we had had another. But I love the family we have. Can’t change that!

    • Sounds like things worked out just the way they were supposed to, even though it’s hard for her right now. Every situation is so different!

  21. To a newly-married couple I would say to really seek God about when to start a family and when to add to it. And then listen to Him even if it doesn’t suit your plans.

    My husband and I had it all planned–we’d start a family sometime in our second year of marriage. Beyond that, my husband said we’d wait and see how it felt with one before rashly having more.

    We’ve been married almost 4 1/2 years now, with possibly as many as 9 miscarriages, sometimes spaced outrageously close together. We still don’t know when that first live baby will show up. And I see the weary young mothers around me, sometimes hear them complaining about another oops baby, see them trudging through another pregnancy. And I wish they would accept the grace to be grateful that they have children, oops and all.

    From my side of the question, I like to think that I would just REJOICE whatever the timing, whatever the spacing, because babies can be awfully hard to come by.

    • It took us almost 7 years into marriage before we were blessed with our first child. Hang in there. Have you looked into herbs at all? Vitex and red raspberry leaves are amazing. Always talk to your Doctor though before taking anything new. Good luck, a little one is worth the wait and trials getting there!

    • I hope we’re still friends in 20 years and can analyze God’s plan together. ;)

  22. We have 3 children our 3rd was just born in Jan. Our oldest is 4 and our middle is 2. I like that they are two years apart in between. I think that is an even space.

  23. Jennifer says:

    Before I got married I had the idea that we would have our children 2 -4 years apart. HAHA!!!!!!! Got had other plans for me! We decided to try for a baby as soon as we got married. 4 months later I was pregnant with our first child, a wonderful little girl. When she was 9 months old I realized that I was pregnant again and got a rambunctious boy. My son was just over 2 when our 3 child was born, another wonderful girl. :) When she was 6 months I discovered I was pregnant again and was having complications. We discovered that it was a tubal pregnancy and my fallopian tube ruptured before it was discovered so it took me months to recover. I’ve been doing better for about 2 months and just found out I am pregnant again! My oldest will be 5 just before the new one arrives. I have had many complications and problems with all the pregnancies. My husband and I had agreed that we would like 5 kids, but we are thinking that we will be happy will 4.

  24. My boys are 2 1/2 and 4 months, so they are about 2 years and 3 months apart. I’ve only had two for 4 months, but so far, I LOVE their spacing. I have 2 in diapers, but it’s not really that much more work changing diapers for 2. My older son adores his brother, and can “help” by getting me diapers or things I need.

  25. my older 2 are 27 months apart(now aged 14 and 11.5)..the third well, she’s 10 years younger than the oldest, and 8 years from the second(she’s 4)

    the bigger 2 were stuck together(and still are, really). i call them Peanut Butter and Jelly.

    don’t get me wrong, the older 2 love their baby sister, it’s just hard because of the age gap. hubby wants another but at this point, we will be in the same boat with a wide age gap with her and a new sibling(no plans yet on a 4th)

  26. Sarah B says:

    When my husband and I got married we tried for a baby right away and were expecting less than 2 months later! We talked again about getting pregnant when our oldest was 8 months old and decided we wanted to and again got pregnant right away! Number 2 was born 4 wks early so our two oldest (boys) were only 16 months apart. Again we wanted to get pregnant when our second was 8 months apart and was pregnant with a girl! Between the 2nd and 3rd there is 17 months apart. This time we decided to wait awhile. My twin brother had passed away at 23 with heart failure right before I had become pregnant with our 3rd and they found my heart pumped slower. They talked about terminating our 3rd baby and about never getting pregnant again. We of course would not terminate our baby and decided that after number 3 was born to wait and see how my heart did. Heart doctor said it was back to normal, but to never have kids again. We decided it would be up to God on whether we would have kids again. When our 3rd was 11 months we decided to try again. I ended up miscarrying on the anniversary of my brother’s passing at 3 months along. Since we miscarried it made us want a baby even more and shortly after, we were pregnant with our 5th!! There are 25 months between our 3rd and 5th. With the 5th pregnancy, the heart doctor said my heart was very healthy and to never come back again!! We were so glad we hadn’t listened to the doctors before and never have anymore as our 5th has been such a blessing! Then unexpectedly we are expecting our 6th when our 5th was only 6 months old!! I love having the kids so close! It is fun to say I have a 5, 4, 2 1/2, 9 month old and 3 months pregnant! Our kids are so close already and whe have figured out when the oldest graduates we will have a child in 12th, 11th, 10th, 8th and 6th grade!! We are so excited to see them grow up so close together and are very thankful the Lord has blessed us this way! We don’t know if we will have more, but we will just have to wait and see!

    • Sarah B says:

      My husband has also made the comment that he wants all the kids close together so that when they are older we are still younger and he can do things with the kids still. He says do it all at once and get it over with. I think he feels this way as his parents are in their 60s and still have a child in 9th grade. He has seen how their age has affected the activites they do with their younger ones compared to what they did with my husband when he was that age. My husband’s family has 11 kids and they are all 2 yrs apart except for after my husband and his twin, then there was 4 yrs- guess they were a little wild! It is interesting though, my mother-in-law never tried to prevent a pregnancy or use birth control 2yrs apart is just how they came!

    • What a touching story. I just love families with lots of kids close in age. But wow, I don’t know if I have the energy for that! ;)

  27. Cynthia says:

    I have four children, ages 18, 10, 7, and almost 2. I absolutely love the wide age gap! It’s exciting to research colleges with one and then go nurse another. The three oldest are wonderful with the youngest, and I loved not having a toddler when I had the last baby. I thought the most difficult spacing was between the second and third (two years and eight months). I also loved getting back in the baby mode when I had been out of it for quite some time.

    • Ooo, thanks for sharing your experience! I was on site council with a lady once who had 5 children all spaced 4-5 years apart. She thought that was perfect; lots of 1 on 1 time with each child.

  28. We got pregnant with our daughter just over a year after being married and it seemed like perfect timing all around. Then around October of last year, we got pregnant again (Surprise!!) And I immediately started worrying about if it was the “right time” for us (we had just moved to a new state, new job for the hubs, and I still felt a little “fluffy” from pregnancy number 1–) and before I had a chance to calm down and just be thankful, we lost the baby.. so I agree with you Amy, I will rejoice in any future children regardless of when and how they come. We hope to be able to try again soon… “Big Sister” is almost Two. :) AND, I have been very diligent with exercise in preparation to be better about it this time around! Your blog is ALWAYS such an encouragement and I recommend it to people all the time!

  29. Jason and I started talking babies when we were engaged. I already had Jeremy (my first boy from my first marriage) and we didn’t want there to be too much space between he and his future siblings. Jeremy was already going to have a different dad than his siblings, so we didn’t want him to feel like a black sheep for being a lot older than his siblings as well. Jason is 8 years younger than his big sister and with their huge age gap they had very different childhoods, actually felt like only children. I am almost 5 years older than my sister and even that felt like too much space. I felt like more of a sister to my cousins who were closer in age to me than I did to her because we had very little in common.

    Thinking about all of that, Jason and I decided to start trying for a baby as soon as we were married (which worked like a charm, Jesse was conceived on our wedding night, or thereabouts). Our two boys are 3.5 years apart and it’s working out really well for us. Jeremy is now closing in on 5 years old and Jesse just had his first birthday last month. Jeremy adores his little brother and there was never been any jealousy when we brought the baby home. We really spent a lot of time keeping him engaged in the pregnancy and seeing the ultrasounds so that he could look forward to the baby as much as we were. He’s a fantastic big brother and can hardly wait to help Jesse learn to walk and talk and teach him all kinds of things like big brothers are supposed to.

    I would like for there to be a bit less space between Jesse and the next one, maybe 2 or 2.5 years this time. I’d like to have at least one more baby but I feel like I have two more coming. The only hangup we have with child spacing is trying not to have them during the summer months. The military transfer season is from June to August, and being heavily pregnant or with a tiny newborn would make a cross-country move very difficult. I know people who have done it though, and they did just fine. Should God bless us with more babies I will be happy to have them whenever He sees fit. :)

    • As a teacher, I always wanted my babies to come in March so I could take the rest of the year off and have my hubby’s help in the summer. When did they come? May, July, August, September. Ha!

  30. I just want to give some encouragement to the families where one child is much younger than his/her more closely spaced siblings. My husband grew up as the youngest in a similar situation–his siblings were 7, 6, and almost 5 years older than him–and it worked out fine. His older sisters had a ball playing with and looking after him, and everyone has great stories about the experience.

  31. I’m a month away from my due date with baby number 4, and my oldest is 3(he’ll turn four at the end of July.) We definitely did not plan on having children so close together, but we trust that God has a purpose:) Our house is pretty crazy most days(and about to get crazier), but there are some advantages to having them closely spaced(everyone’s on a similar schedule, they tend to enjoy the same books and videos.)

  32. Our children are 27 months apart, and I think that’s a great space. Some people thought they were too close, which I think is odd. For me, two years is perfect! However, I know friends who prefer a closer spacing, and also I know those who either by circumstance or choice have more of a 3yr spacing and they like it that way. Our next one will probably be more like 3 than 2 because we don’t have the space and I really don’t want to be pregnant again!

  33. Because you cannot predict your children’s personalities or how they will interact with each other, there isn’t an ideal child spacing. Different kids interact and relate to each other differently. Why stress about it? Children are blessings whenever they arrive. They will squabble and fight and drive you nuts, yet they will bring you smiles and joy too.

    And for goodness sake, if you know an infertile woman, do not discuss this sort of thing around her! It can be very discouraging!

  34. My children are ages 7, 4 and 6 months. We always “planned” on having them 3 years apart, but honestly now having number 3 a little longer then 3 years from our 2nd we wished we had them closer. We will not be waiting so long for #4 God willing that is. I think about 2 yrs apart is nice. I really think that spacing is an individual couple choice, as long as you are prayerful about it. I do think that a couple ought not wait too long into their marriage to have children though. I’m currently reading Be Fruitful & Multiply -What the Bible says About Having Children by Nancy Campbell and I have been enlightened by what God has to say about children. Love your blog, thanks for the interesting read..makes for a nice little break in my day;)

    • “I really think that spacing is an individual couple choice, as long as you are prayerful about it.” Most definitely. And what works for one family won’t work for another. Family dynamics and personality have to play a role.

  35. Our children are 5 1/2, 3 1/2, and 16 months (22 months, 24 months apart, respectively). We thought we were “done” with our two boys, and then our baby girl arrived! We’re still contemplating another (I’d really like to have more, and my husband is significantly less excited! ;-) ), and I have to say, I agree with the “staying in baby-mode”! Makes it so much easier, not to mention I’ve known people who have waited 3+ years to add another baby to their family, and have had significant problems with sibling jealousy… Thankfully, we have never had that problem – no one’s been the baby for long! ;-)

    • I think this week (or next) I’m going to throw the “when to say when” question out there. That should be fun!

  36. My two boys are 3 years and 5 days apart. We wanted them to be about 3 years apart, and it turns out it was a pretty exact science. Ha
    I think 3-4 years is a good gap for several reasons.
    1. The older child has time to be the “baby” before the next one comes along, avoiding feelings of jealousy.
    2. Gives the mother’s body time to rest between pregnancies.
    3. The children are still close enough in age to play together, and usually they get along well if the are 3-5 years apart. I have read that more than 5 years or less than 3 years apart can cause a problem between siblings….

    • Your reasoning is very solid. ;) I found myself “itching” for another baby right when my current baby (whoever was “current” at the time) was 18 months or so old.

  37. Our girls are 2 and 4.5 – exactly 2 1/2 years apart! I think that’s been a good “spacing.” Our oldest was potty trained when her baby sister came along…and she loved helping to take care of the baby!

    P.S. We’re hoping to conceive #3 soon-ish. I wonder when it will happen.

  38. Looks like I’m joining the conversation a little late but had to add…. we had our first 4 in three years (now 11, 9 and 8 year old twins). We had our “caboose” 5 years later and she is now 3. Would I recommend that? Well, the first 4 were basically all babies together and they are now very close. We’re kind of a loud/high drama family, so it’s definitely never quiet around here…. But, I’ll miss the noise when it’s gone- worth every minute…. and grey hair… and tummy that will never be quite the same… :)

    • I think you pretty much described my own family when I was growing up. Close in age and loud. But fun! I know my parents enjoyed the chaos. ;)

  39. My two daughters are almost 5 years apart. It wasn’t what we planned by any means since we had a miscarriage followed by a struggle with infertility when my oldest was 3. With the help of a fertility specialist, I was finally able to have another child in late 2009. My two girls are now 6 years old and 16 months old and the 5 year age difference has been fine. The oldest daughter didn’t go through a lot of jealousy when her sister was born, even though she’d been an only child until she was almost 5, and she is thrilled to help out with her little sister and they even play together. Since the oldest is already in a car booster seat and able to do so many things on her own, that also makes things a lot easier. So though it wasn’t what we planned and I do sometimes wonder what our lives would be like now had we not lost a baby to miscarriage in between, I am thankful for the two blessings I DO have today.

  40. This blog post is bad for my baby brain. The more I read (and I’ve been reading a lot. I keep coming back & reading the comments.) the more I think I need to be pregnant RIGHT THIS SECOND! I really do NOT feel mentally ready to have a second child, but the timing seems good.

    One thing that I think about a lot is what SEASON I want my baby to be born in. If I have another girl then it would be nice to have my babies in the same season so the hand-me-downs can be used to their fullest. I also think about the maternity clothes.

    Geez… how cheap am I that I don’t want to go shopping for new clothes for me or a new baby? I think I need to get my head checked.

  41. Rebekah says:

    My son was born in January of last year and my daughter was born on March of this year. They are 14 months apart. The first six weeks were a challenge I must admit, but we are getting into a routine and I’m loving it. I think I need a couple of years before we think about #3 though. My body needs some rest. I love that they are so close together and wouldn’t change it if I could. Me and my sisters were 18 months apart and we were best friends and still are.

    • I’m guessing that having two so close in age is one of those things that you’ll look back on and think “HOW did we do that?!” but never knowing any different, it’s *your* perfect. :)

  42. I’m just now finding your blog and reading the archives. Wanted to share my thoughts on this topic but haven’t read the prior 88 comments – the kids will only wait so long!

    I think the best spacing is the one God gives you, but using birth control means you’re not letting Him send them in His timing. We did not always let God control our fertility, but here’s our story in short form:

    Married at age 19. Pregnant within a few months and had baby #1 (a girl)two days after our first anniversary.
    Unexplained infertility for 2 years.
    Pregnant with #2, miscarriage.
    Pregnant a few months later and healthy baby boy. Oldest was 3.5 yrs old.
    Pregnant again when baby was 4 months old!! Healthy girl born(pregnancy 4, baby 3).
    Pregnant when baby was 7 mos, baby died in utero. Body did not recognize it. D&C.
    Pregnant again. healthy baby boy (pregnancy 6, baby 4)
    Pregnant again, healthy baby boy. (pregnancy 7, baby 5)
    Pregnancy 8, Miscarriage at 9 weeks.
    Pregnant again, healthy baby boy (pregnancy 9, baby 6).
    That brings us to TODAY. I’m PREGNANT again (just finished 1st trimester). My other 6 children are currently: 10, 6, 5, 3, 2, and 7 months. That is 10 pregnancies in 11 years.

    The hardest spacing was between my oldest two because oldest was potty trained and it felt like starting over when baby came. Since my 6yo was born I’ve had 2 or 3 children in cloth diapers. While that is a lot of work, it’s never been the hard adjustment of “going back to the baby stage” that I had between the first and second.

    God’s amazing, He equips parents. We can’t do it without Him!

    • Oh, in short form that puts our spacing between living children at:
      39 mos
      13 mos
      22 mos
      16 mos
      21 mos
      and when I finish this pregnancy we’ll add:
      13 mos.

    • Our hardest spacing was the 3 years before our 3rd and 4th (not by our design, by God’s) Amazing the difference that year makes!

  43. Kimberlee M says:

    Well my first son is almost 10 years old and my second is 7 months. I am now 10 weeks pregnant. It was a hard adjustment going back to baby mode after almost 10 years but I felt more prepared. I am nervous about having another so close. If this pregnancy goes full term they will be 14 months apart. I was fearful there would be jealousy with #2 and the new one but after what I have been reading I am not so worried about that. I just hope and pray my body is healthy enough for a healthy full term pregnancy! 2 in diapers…….wheeew, I am tired already….

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