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What's the best age gap between siblings?

September 14th, 2022
Chrissie
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What's the best age gap between siblings?
If you want to trigger a lively discussion, this is definitely a topic that everyone has a view on! There is no definite rule on what age gap is best and what works for one family may well not work for another. The World Health Organization gives the guidance that a gap of at least 24 months between your first and second child is best as it gives the mother’s body time to get fully recovered and re-nourished following the first pregnancy. At the end of the day, nature plays a role too in how quickly a second pregnancy occurs.

Each age gap between siblings has both benefits and disadvantages.

12 - 18 MONTHS:

Many people advocate this age gap because although it is hard work, the benefit is that your children are more likely to play well together, share similar interests and there is usually a stronger bond between them. The price to pay for this is that it can be exhausting to be pregnant again when you have a toddler to cope with. Toddlers can also get very jealous and resentful of their new brother or sister.

After the second baby is born, two demanding young children can take a toll on the mother’s health and double the sleepless nights can be hard work – for both parents. Many would say however, that it is good to get it all over with at once!

Medical studies have found that when there is a small gap between pregnancies, the second baby can be born prematurely with a low birth weight.

It is worth thinking about the cost of buying two of everything as it is unlikely that your elder child will have finished with many pieces of equipment such as their cot and the change to a bed should never be hurried.
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The two year gap

Many doctors recommend that this is the ideal age gap between two children. The mother will be in good health and this will be reflected in the health of her second newborn baby. Importantly, her elder child will be at a stage where he can understand many things and can express themselves effectively.

There is also the advantage that mums still feel confident of being current with their baby care knowledge. As this is the most common age gap, it is highly likely that friends you made during your first pregnancy will now be having their second baby too! On the financial side, there will be the chance to use the equipment and clothes that you bought for your first child for your second baby.

Three years or more

There are many advantages to having a larger age gap as by this stage, the first child is independent and also feels very secure in their parents’ love. It is easier for parents to give each child their own time and attention – especially if the elder child has started nursery school. Big brothers and sisters often enjoy helping with the new arrival and jealousy is unlikely. Because of the larger age gap though, your siblings are unlikely to share interests and hobbies and may not play together very often.

When you are pregnant with your second baby, you may well have to refresh your baby knowledge as there are so many new and changing ideas about baby care. Having said that, the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) runs refresher antenatal classes for parents who already had at least one baby

It is interesting to note that medical experts suggest that waiting five years or more can cause a delay in becoming pregnant again but can also trigger some complications such as hypertension and diabetes. An important reason for this is that you will be an older mother second time around.
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All children with siblings need to feel secure in their parents’ love and relish quality time on their own with each parent – it needn’t be for hours, but it does need to be regularly, as it will encourage the development of each child's personality and individual interests.

Whatever decision you make about the age gap you would like between your children, it is best to remain flexible with your ideas as Mother Nature often as a large say in the matter too!

Chrissie x

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