What Is The Best Age Gap For Siblings?

Everyone around you has probably already told you when they think you should get your next baby. Some will advocate you do it quickly to keep the age gap small while others will advise you to wait a while.

They have good intentions but ultimately, the best choice about how far apart to space your kids depends on your particular family dynamics.

Some people prefer them in quick succession while for other families a larger age gap is easier financially and otherwise.

So what’s the best age gap for siblings? Let’s look at different age gaps and their pros and cons.

12-18 Months

This is a good age gap if you want your kids to grow up almost as twins. Twins tend to bond better and fight less.

They’ll also be close together during most of life’s milestones, ensuring none of them feels alone.

Some parents might also find this smaller age gap to be better for their life plan. Get it over with and go back to your career, start a business or travel.

It might also be easier on your finances. One parent can stay home to look after both kids, you can buy the same set of clothes for the kids and they can even play with the same toys that they can share.

On the downside, a 1 to 1.5 year age gap can be incredibly stressful for the mum.

There’s the toll they take on your body during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. It will be a long time before you get to enjoy a good night’s sleep or take a solo trip for days.

Talking of breastfeeding, you may have to wean off the first child before they are ready to stop breastfeeding.

Then there is the mental stress on both parents of taking care of two young children. They are adorable and all but they can be mentally exhausting especially between the ages of 2 and 4.

This age gap is ideal if:

  • You want to close that chapter quickly and focus on your career or business.
  • You started having kids late in life.
  • You have someone like a nanny to help you with childcare.
  • You feel emotionally and mentally ready to have another child.
  • Your doctor says it’s okay to have a child this soon after the last pregnancy.

18 months – 2 Years

Doctors recommend waiting at least 18 months before getting pregnant again for health reasons. So most siblings tend to fall within this age gap.

The biggest advantage of a 2-year gap is that you get time to emotionally and mentally prepare for another child.

Your kids are fairly far apart but still close enough to play together and bond.

The issue with a 2-year gap is that the first child is just entering into the ‘terrible twos’ period. This exacerbates sibling rivalry.

Financially, it can also be a bit difficult. They need separate toys, clothes, books and other items.

This age gap is ideal if:

  • Your doctor recommends waiting 18 months-2 years before getting pregnant again.
  • You need more time to mentally prepare for another baby.
  • You don’t want to wait too long before getting another child because of career, business, personal preferences or age.

3 – 4 years

For parents who want more time to get ready for another child, 3-4 years is ideal.

You get plenty of time to spend with the first child during the crucial early years. By the time the second one is coming along, their sibling has become more independent.

It’ll even make parent easier because the first child doesn’t require as much attention.

There is still a risk of sibling rivalry at this age gap but it’s not as big as with a 2-year gap.

The main downside with such a large age gap is that your kids may not play well together especially during the first years.

But with time, most siblings that are 3-4 years apart become as close as any other siblings.

This age gap is ideal if:

  • You want to reduce the risk of sibling rivalry.
  • You want more time before the next child.
  • You are relatively young and so have time to get pregnant again.
  • You want to spend enough time with each child during their first two or three years.

5 or More Years

If you want to deal with only one child at a time from birth until preschool, 5 years is the best age gap.

By the time you are getting another child, the first one has become more independent and doesn’t require round the clock attention. They may even help out with some simple chores.

You have also had time to recover physically and emotionally.

The problem with such a large age gap is that you go right back to zero – preparing for delivery, changing diapers, breastfeeding, colic and dealing with a stubborn 2-year old.

You’ll also be older now. It may not be as easy to keep up with an active toddler.

There’s also the issue of sibling bonding.

Kids who are 5 years apart barely have anything in common. Throughout life, they’ll be at very different stages, which can make it difficult for them to bond.

This age gap is ideal if:

  • You want a lot of time to spend with each child.
  • You have plenty of time to get pregnant again.
  • You don’t want the stress of bringing up two closely spaced children at the same time.

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