What’s the right space between siblings?

December 29, 2011 by Kara Moore
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I think someone is trying to tell me something. I have four friends due to have their second babies within one month this spring.

Erica has a daughter who will turn 3 in March and is due in early June. Tori has a daughter who will turn 2 in January and is due in June. Molly has a son who will turn 2 in May just days before her due date. And Jen has a daughter who won’t turn 2 until November and is also due in early June.

Erica lives in Tennessee, Tori lives in Nebraska, and Molly and Jen live in Charleston. So I can’t blame it on the water.

I guess it’s like the year my husband and I went to something like seven weddings. Our cohort is in the baby-having phase. Still, four in one month is a lot.

Before you ask, I’m not pregnant. Nosireebob. But I’m feeling the pressure. My daughter is three months younger than Molly’s son and three months older than Jen’s daughter. So we’ve been in this together so far.

Are we ready for a second kid? I don’t know. But I dwell at length on spacing between kids.

I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong spacing for kids. Every family is different, and there are pros and cons to every approach.

For example, my husband is one of four, and they are on average five years apart. He was 15 when his youngest sister was born. On the plus side, each child had the spotlight for a decent period before a new baby came along, and their sibling rivalry isn’t bad. On the con side, my in-laws have a both a tween at home and a granddaughter.

When my mother-in-law and I talk about this, she always cites the example of her friend Lisa’s family. Lisa had her three kids at two-year intervals, so she had three under five at one point. While it seemed crazy while the kids were little, my MIL sees the virtue of it now that they’re all three done with college and married and Lisa and her husband are free to enjoy the next phase of life.

My brother was born two months before my third birthday. We fought a lot up until I got to high school, but we get along now.

The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy says that a mother is physically best suited to conceive a second child 18-23 months after the birth of the first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recited that fact. My daughter is just shy of 17 months. I’m not there yet!

My mom says that when she read about spacing, she concluded that the easiest spacing in terms of child-rearing is seven years (for only two kids) because the first is old enough to be independent but also help out with the new baby. My dad is seven years older than his brother, and they are very close as adults.

I don’t think we’ll wait seven years, but I don’t know if we’ll be ready next month either.

I know I don’t want to own two cribs, and I’d rather not have two in diapers at the same time. But I want them to be peers, to go to high school together. That really narrows it down, I guess.

So tell me, moms, what have you learned about spacing kids? Is there an ideal interval?

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One Response to “What’s the right space between siblings?”

  1. Karan I.No Gravatar says:

    My kids are 2.5 years apart and, while they do argue quite a bit, I generally love it. They are in school together, they know the same people, they can (and do) play together, and I will be done rearing them at about the same time.

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