If you are thinking about adding to your family within the next few years, there are some things to consider. Deciding to have a second baby is a huge decision for most families, and will literally change your life. Here are some things to consider when making this big decision.
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“When will you try for the next one?”
If you are a parent, you have undoubtedly heard this question before. I’m not sure why people are always trying to rush you into the next thing!
You start dating someone: “When are you getting married?”
The day you get married: “When are you getting pregnant?”
A week after you have your first kid: “Oh, when are trying for #2?”
And it just continues on from there.
Try not to let this question influence your decision. It doesn’t matter if other people are ready for you to have a second baby – they are not the ones who have to be up 5+ times per night feeding the little one.
After talking with other moms, the age of their second children seemed to be split into two groups. The first group of women had their children spaced out by less than 2.5 years, while the second group had their children spaced out by 2.5 years or more. Here are a list of pros and cons from each group.
Shorter Gap (0-2.5 years)
- Babies are close in age, can bond and relate growing up
- You still remember what it’s like to have a newborn – constant state of “Baby Mode”
- You’ll have more energy for both kids
- You can go back to work sooner (if you plan to). Some moms plan on staying home until their kids are in kindergarten so having them closer together will shorten this time.
- Will grow up going to the same schools and even playing on the same team.
- Less likely to be jealous of the second baby.
- Having to take care of a newborn while dealing with a toddler can be a struggle
- Have to pack 2x as many diapers, making sure there are plenty of each size
- It requires more planning everytime you leave the house
- May decrease the length of time you breastfeed the first child
- Can be hard keeping up with a toddler while you are pregnant.
Longer gap (2.5+ years)
- #1 is in school – leaving you with more bonding time during the day with #2
- #1 is out of diapers, less out-of-pocket cost
- Can help take care of the baby
- Better able to entertain or take care of themselves while you are busy
- Can better understand the concept of a little brother or sister
- Out of the swing of things
- Have to re-learn how to live on little to no sleep
- You have to transition from baby to toddler, and then back to baby.
- You have to tote the newborn around to all of #1’s activities.
- Baby gear might expire, costing you extra money.
“How can I love another baby as much as I love my First?”
This is THE question, almost every parent experiences this when thinking about having another baby. I know this thought crosses my mind almost every day! I cannot imagine loving another human with such intensity. But the good thing is that the verdict is unanimous. Every single mom says the same thing – you aren’t taking anything away from the first, it’s more like your heart doubles once baby number 2 is born.
You may not ever feel ready.
Whether this is your 1st, 2nd, or 8th baby, some parents will never feel that sense of “readiness” when it comes to trying for a baby. There is always that feeling of not enough money, not enough time, you haven’t travelled enough, you haven’t spent enough time with your other kids, etc. If you wait for the stars to align, you may miss your chance altogether.
The greatest thing about pregnancy, is that it takes 9 months. This gives you 9 months to prepare, plan, spend quality time, and just take it all in before adding another person to your family. Pregnancy is unpredictable, even with careful planning, you can’t always control when it will happen. Just because it was easy the first time around, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easier the second time.
How long should you wait?
The American College of Gynecology (ACOG) recommends waiting at least 6 months after birth before getting pregnant again and even suggests waiting until 18 months to reduce the risk of complications. These complications include low birth weight, premature birth, or even placenta abruption (where the placenta peels away from the uterine wall).
Pregnancy and breastfeeding deplete your natural stores of so many important nutrients. Waiting for a longer period of time can help your body restore some of those vital nutrients before it’s time to give them up again. The two most critical items are your folate and iron stores. Folate is extremely important, because it helps aide in spinal cord and brain development. If you plan on getting pregnant before the recommended 18 months, make sure you have been taking prenatal vitamins throughout pregnancy, postpartum, and continue to take them during your second pregnancy to help restore these important nutrients.
However, waiting too long between pregnancies has also been shown to have a negative effect on mothers. Waiting 5 or more years can cause issues like high blood pressure and can even increase your chances of preeclampsia.
So, what’s the verdict?
There seems to be a grace period from between 18 months – 5 years in which your body is in the best shape to have another baby. However, this is just an estimate and does not take into account each individual. Even with these guidelines, 1 in 3 women become pregnant before the recommended 18-month interpregnancy interval.
The best way to determine when to have another baby, is to talk to your doctor about family planning. They will be able to take into account your individual medical history and can help you and your family come to a safe decision for everyone.
Advice from veteran Moms!
I asked, and these Mommas delivered!
I tweeted asking for advice on having a second child and I got so many responses! You can check out the full conversation on Twitter (@growingrfamily) but these are some of the highlights.
Shoutout to all the moms that gave advice. I learned so much from all of you, and I know you helped so many other moms on twitter as well.
I made sure to include their twitter handles so you can go and follow them for more great parenting advice!
There is never going to be the “right time” to have another baby. You will never save up enough or travel enough or have enough time, or your current child/ren be old enough or independent enough. Just go for it, ovaries don’t work on demand either, don’t wait for the “right time” because you may be waiting forever. If I managed to swing 3 under 3, I’m sure anyone can. Have that baby folks, it’ll be the best thing you ever do.
We’re a family of six but deciding to have that second was the toughest decision. We loved our son so much and didn’t want to take anything away from him but then we of course wanted another little one of him…We obviously got over it. I could not imagine any of them not being here. They all have unique qualities that makes me love each of them for who they are so there really is no favorite.
I have 2 kids and they are about 1 1/2 years apart . I love them both the same except for different reasons because they are such complete opposites. There are easy times and difficult times that come with each stage ( from my experience) but I am completely happy about having two. I have to say that so far, middle school has been the hardest parenting time I have had.
We NEVER planned our kids they just arrived 2.5 yrs apart 5 yrs between number 2 and 3, and 2.5 between 3 and 4. It was ok with 2&3 but 4 I almost lost my mind! There is ALWAYS a favorite it’s usually the kid that’s doing what they were told, so it changes daily!
Definitely not twice as hard! In fact some things got easier (they entertain each other). I
100% love them equally but uniquely, no favorites here (unless one is being naughty; then my fav is the other one, lol). We were shooting for about 1.5 years apart. They are slightly closer but it’s been fine. I think much closer could be overwhelming but too far apart also gets tricky because they would be at such different stages.
So I have two boys…I didn’t really intend to have kids period, but it happened! We tried for almost a year before I got pregnant with my second son! He is now 3.5 with a 9.5 year old brother! I love them both very much! They are so different from each other and fight constantly…but the love they show each other makes me melt into a puddle! [#1] helped me so much when 3.5 was a little baby…even now he’s very caring and loving towards his brother!
Wait for 2nd kid until your first one reaches the milestone of 2 years. After having a kid, the first year is always a roller coaster ride, so take a break before planning a second pregnancy. And make sure you are ready to dive into the world of a toddler and infant together.
We have 3; the first two are 17 months apart and the younger two are 13 months apart. It’s a different love for all of them. Days are hard, but watching them all interact makes me so glad we had them so close in age. And seeing their different personalities is the sweetest.
One thing I suggest for moms who are growing their families is to meal prep! I froze casseroles and lasagnas in freezer and it made cooking a whole lot easier. Having pre cut veggies and fruit is great and easy to access for snacks.
My oldest and middle son are 10 years apart I always knew I wanted more than just 1 child and my son started to get lonely around 1st grade even asked me if he was the only kid with no brothers or sisters in the world lol. Having one child compared to 2 or more is a world of a difference, at least for me it was.
My 2nd son was so different than my first in every way, pregnancy, delivery and he was a very fussy newborn. My 2 youngest are 21 months apart and oh man idk how people have kids back to back like this over and over lol they are almost 3 and 14 months and are already fighting over toys and my affection it’s so much harder with babies close in age but at the same time it’s super cute lol they’ll never be lonely and grow up super close but having just 1 for so long is WAY easier on parents for sure.
First off, everything depends on your specific kids, which you can’t predict ahead of time. We have a 4 year gap between the eldest and the second kid, which was really nice. Older kid was able to Understand a lot of what was going on, and viewed the baby as “his” baby rather than competition. He was also old enough to go into preschool, which gave me a break with just the baby to mind.
I don’t think it’s necessarily harder, bc you already KNOW that the sh***y parts end and you know some tricks to try. I stole a page from a friend’s book and made a point of sometimes telling the baby in front of the older one, “Sorry, baby, I know you need (thing) but I need to help Eldest first right now!” t helped Eldest to see that his needs were still seen, still mattered, and the baby wasn’t always going to be the one who gets helped first. This helped cut down on the ‘pay attention to me!’ tantrums, too.
So for the opposite though, my mom had 5 kids. When I expressed to her that I only want my one, she supported this because she thinks if she would have only had one she would have more youth left in her, more life to live outside of having children, and overall less stress.
I love kids so I definitely wanted to have another. I did have 3.5 years between the first two, which for me was great, because my first was out of diapers & could put on her own shoes.
It’s a truckload more work. And totally worth it. ❤
Mine are exactly 18 months apart. It’s not as hard as we thought it would be. My oldest likes to play by herself a lot so I usually have a break during the day when she does that.
My kids are 7 years apart and honestly it made everything so much easier. My oldest is 9 years old now and is such a big help. The only issue I had was forgetting the diaper bag literally every time we’d leave when she was born. I wasn’t used to it. I also learned to not be so overbearing or overprotective because I’ve experienced everything with my oldest already (like when my youngest gets sick).
We have 2; a 2yo & a 9mo, & I’m pregnant with number 3. I love my second as much as my first, & no favourites, but there are certainly days where one is easier than the other(less fussy, less tantrums, just peacefully existing). I don’t know that there’s & ideal time span. We wanted our kids to be close together in age, but not everyone does/can. 1 & 2 are 17 months apart, they’ll be 2½ & 13mo respectively, when number 3 arrives. I like the 17 month age gap between 1 & 2. By the time the baby came a long the toddler was walking & playing on his own, I could give him snacks & meals, or distract him with the tablet while I fed, bathed, or otherwise needed to focus on his brother.
Having 2 is definitely hard but not as bad as we usually think. The first few weeks of adjusting your time are so crucial and the most difficult in my opinion. The age gap between my kids is 3 years and I love it but I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer for that. My first was potty trained before our second arrived but we didn’t do it on purpose. He was showing signs and pretty much trained himself.
It’s twice as busy, more like. And I definitely do love my second as much as my first, I was afraid I wasn’t gonna. My favorite is whoever isn’t annoying me at the moment! [For age gap, I’d say] ideally 2-3 years apart and it’s only more expensive if they’re both in diapers.
My 3.5yo just made a bottle (of reg milk) for my 1yo….so there’s that #Lifechanger #MaybeWeShouldHave3Now?
Honestly, for me it would depend on the temperament of the first child, the neediness of the newborn, the age gap and your patience level. It is hard, I’m not going to lie. I love them both the same. I was so worried about not having a bond with my second but it was instant.
It’s not twice as hard. In the beginning you have to get reacclimated to not sleeping. I think it’s easier to remember that it’s a short time because you’ve done it before and the best part of having two is that you can savor the things you didn’t know you were doing to miss the first time around.
I have four, 1&2 are 21 months apart, 2&3 are 14 months apart and 3&4 are 10 months apart. The idea of that many kids that close together is much worse than the reality of it. Grocery shopping was the trickiest when the youngest was a newborn. It was hard during pregnancy, and when the youngest was an infant, but the kids that are 10 months apart are SO close. They are the very best friends. And that helps in so many ways.
I have 2 under 2 – first was planned, second was whoops. I wouldn’t say it’s harder with a second, but definitely a whole different set of challenges especially with different ages needing different routines. Takes acclimation but once you hit a groove it’s almost like autopilot.
I have 2 girls (4 and soon to be 2 in November). What was tough was potty training. Have the second when your oldest is halfway or almost potty trained. There will be difficulties but you will work through them. My oldest rebelled for a bit but it’s because she wanted attention.
I love both of them, both are favorite and they both mingle with each other well. Make a difference of 2-3 years, so that they can understand each other when they grow old instead of fall into the generation gap.
It is exponentially harder at the beginning. Now that mine are old enough to play together, it’s much easier. Obviously child care doubles. Food doubles. And sometimes you love one a lot more lol.
Yes it’s difficult because you are twice as tired.
Mine are 20m and 6 weeks, it’s definitely hard. I love them both the same but my toddler tests my patience. Favorite is whichever isn’t crying at the time.
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Interpregnancy Care: this document was developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal–Fetal Medicine for more information, please visit the website at https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Obstetric-Care-Consensus-Series/Interpregnancy-Care
“Family planning: Get the facts about pregnancy spacing” – Mayo Clinic
“How long should you wait before getting pregnant again?” – March of Dimes