Berkeley Parents Network >
Family Relations >
The birthmother of our 11 month-old son is again pregnant, and
there is a very good chance that we will adopt her new baby due
in two months. We are trying to prepare ourselves, to the degree
that is possible, and would love to hear from others who have
had children this close together re: how you have dealt with
sleep, general logistics, maintaining your sanity - anything!
Thanks very much.
Congratulations, that's very exciting! Our children are 16
months apart and their relationship is very close. They play
together nicely most of the time, and the eldest looks out for
her little brother (even though she's only 1 inch taller).
On how we've dealt with sleep? Well, I've taken 3 naps in 22
months. That's quite a difference than the daily 3 p.m. snooze
I used to have with my first child. Our children are and have
been on 2 separate sleep schedules (an up-in-the-morning son,
and a stay-up-late-daughter). I don't know how other parents
get their children on the same schedule, but if you were able to
do this you might get more sleep than we do!
Two is twice the fun.
Sometimes, fortune falls on us! It wasn't my intention to have
my children so close together, but so many positive things came
of this happy accident, that I came to think of 13 months as the
ideal spacing. By the time they were 1 & 2, they played together
for long periods of time. Sibling rivalry wasn't a problem, as
it is when the oldest has had years of exclusive parental
attention prior to the invader's arrival. The second one walked
early, talked early, and was potty-trained at 1 1/2 with no
problems, all due to observing his brother and trying to keep
up. So instead of having diapers for 4 or 5 years, we were
finished in 2 1/2. In many ways they were like twins,
complementing each other's strengths/weaknesses, and were always
best friends. They are married now, and don't live in the same
community, but never had big fights or break-ups, and still get
together every month or so. So have fun, and enjoy your good
My husband and I are planning for baby #2 and wanted some
feedback on sibling spacing. Baby #1(boy) just turned two.
Various factors leave us deciding between a 3 or 4 year age
gap. We would love to hear from the experts (that's you!) out
there what these age gaps are like for parents and siblings. Of
course, we know that child personalities will play a huge role
in how well the two play together, but any sage advice would be
I highly recommend 4 1/2 years as just about an ideal spacing.
Many of our friends spaced their children 2-3 years apart and I
saw a lot of sibling hatred, sometimes surprisingly vicious. By
4 1/2, our older child was secure and welcomed the new addition
to the family. The two children play together constantly,
almost always with delight. Sometimes they squabble, but they
always say they love each other, and they frequently give each
other hugs and help each other. I think they're far enough
apart to eliminate much of the competition factor... at least so
Hoping it continues!
We have three kids now aged 15 1/2, 12, and 8. I was happy
with the spacing--and I don't think it makes much difference
really if they are three or four years apart, especially since
you can't really plan these things down to the month
anyway...The older two are three grade levels apart, the
youngest is four grade levels behind his sister, though he
could have been three--he has a November birthday so we started
him in kindergarten at age 5 rather than 4. My only caveat is
that if you're only planning on two, this spacing is great.
However, there are almost seven years between the oldest and
the youngest, and this poses challenges when it comes to doing
things together as a family. The oldest is ready for multi-day
overnight bike trips when the youngest is just learning to
ride; teenagers' language is a charming addition to an eight-
year-old's vocabulary (not), etc. If you're planning more than
two--have them closer together or a lot farther apart!
Torn between three PTAs
My boys are three years apart. I have found this to be a great
spread. My oldest was old enough and independent enough that I
had time for the baby, but was at that selfish stage yet so we
didn't get any jealousy poping up until the baby was one (and
the older was 4) and tough enough to handle the occaisional
pushes/shoves/pokes/hit his brother attempted.
The other reason I really like this age gap is that at three I
still felt pretty ''strapped down'' by my oldest. I had more
freedom, and got more sleep, than when he was 1, but he still
needed me a lot. Now that he is four, he is really independent.
When we go out alone together it is not a big deal... we don't
need to haul around stuff, we can go more places, etc. Giving up
the freedom of a three year old and going back to a baby wasn't
nearly as painful as I imagine giving up my recent four year old
Mom to 4.5 and 1.5 boys
If you have the opportunity to plan the spacing, 4 years apart
seems the worst to me. The 2nd child always gets the short end of
the stick. When the 1st is graduating from highschool the 2nd is
graduating from 8th grade, who's graduation will be minimized (or
missed totally)? And again when the first is graduating from college.
About 9-12 months ago there was a very looooong discussion on this
exact topic. (Did you check the archives?) I was fascinated b/c I
was expecting my 2nd child at the time (my kids are 2 yrs 3 months
apart) and had strong feelings that closer is better as it was the
case with my own sister. (We are 13 months apart.) What I gleaned
from all of the discussion is that the spacing is right that is
right for the parents, and the children will be close or not close
in their relationship or compatability in unpredictable ways.
There were siblings 2 years apart that fought all the time and
there were siblings 9 years apart that were very close. Some
reported that their relationships changed over the decades. When
my 2nd child came and it was a boy, I realized I had been wanting
a girl, perhaps to recreate the sister relationship that I had
grown up with. I felt released from that subconscious desire and
am looking forward to seeing how my children develop their own
interdependence and independence. Good luck!
My partner and I have a 16 month old, and we are trying to
decide if we should start trying to have another baby now, or
if it is better to wait a few years. We both have siblings
close in age, and while this made for some rivalry, it was also
great to have a playmate growing up, and I think there is
something to be said for being so close in age that you can't
remember life without a sibling, when you had both parents all
to yourself. At the same time, I know it is incredibly hard to
raise two young kids, and I also think it might be nice for our
little one to get to be the baby for several years, without
having to grow up in ways due to a smaller sibling. I am
curious to hear people's thoughts on the ideal age spread, with
respect to what is best for the kids, how it is for the
parents, and the financial side of it as well (we both work, so
if we have another one soon we'll be paying for childcare for
two.) I am fairly young (29) so we can afford to wait a few
years if that is what seems best for our family. I am
particularly interested to hear from people that have more than
two kids, with two close together and one farther apart, since
you have experience with both sibling age differences. But all
comments and input are welcome. Thanks!
Considering number 2
I have three children, ages 10, 7 and 2 years. The three year
age gap between the first two worked well since they weren't
spaced too closely to be near twins yet they are close enough in
age to be able to play well now. We didn't plan on the third to
be nearly five years younger than the middle child but that was a
blessing, too, for the older two were self sufficient enough with
new baby in tow. I can feel that natural break in ages when we
do activities as a family. The older two would end up doing
things with one parent and the toddler would do something else
with the other parent. The toddler currently just goes along
with the flow but over time, she's coming into her own
activities. There have been times when it would be easier if the
kids were in more or less the same age range so that we can do
Ideal spacing is a very individual decision. As you state, there
are advantages and disadvantages to close or farther apart
spacing. Those around me state that closer spacing is harder
when the kids are very young, but easier when they grow older and
can play and relate to one another. And the differences in
farther spacing are more pronounced when they get older. Also,
there are differences in dynamics with genders (i.e. two
brothers, two sisters, boy-girl, girl-boy) that come into play.
Mom of three
I think at least three years difference is a good idea. My two
children were born exactly two years apart and I do regret
that my oldest was not babied for another year. And the first
six months (a newborn and a toddler) were SO hard!
my two cents
Although I only have one child right now, let me tell you about
having an older brother and sister myself. I hear all the time
about how great it is to have siblings close and how distant
siblings feel if they are spaced further apart. My brother is
10 years older than me and my sister is 6 years older than me
and I couldn't have been a happier kid or closer to both of
them, both as a young child and as an adult. I think closeness
depends on the siblings (and parents) themselves and not on
spacing. Therefore, I tend to discount spacing issues based on
how close people were or were not to their own siblings.
You might be interested in some extensive research by Burton
White (which he writes about in the book Raising a Happy,
Unspoiled Child -- a very interesting and enlightening book
based on research and not just opinion although somewhat
repetitive and not so practical). His research/observations
suggests that an ideal spacing is for the baby to be 36 months
of age or older when the next one is born. The research in his
book convinced me that I would wait to try to conceive again
until my son would be 3 years old when the younger was born
(even though I am too old to wait much longer!). It might be
worth your reading it for that input and to see for yourself
what research he bases his conclusions on. You might want to
contrast this information with equally compelling stories you're
likely to hear from people who are quite delighted to have their
babies close together; it is somewhat practical if you have to
take a break in your career -- then you only have one break, for
I have 3 children. My first two are 4 years 3 months apart and
my youngest is 2 years 3 months younger than my middle son.
From what I have experienced there are pros and cons to both
senarios. My daughter didn't suffer from too much jealousy when
my son was born b/c she was old enough to understand that babies
are helpless, need a lot of care, etc. but I have found that as
they grow older their abilities and interests are so different
that many outings are boring for one or too difficult. Just a
trip to the park can be more difficult since my daughter will
want to be in the ''big'' kid area while I need to be in the
toddler area with my son. Since I can't be both places one
child is always a little disappointed.
The closer spaced siblings will probably have more playtime
together but at this point they are much more physically
taxing. I keep reminding myself that this phase will pass
though. Once my son can do more for himself I think I will be
able to enjoy this spacing more.
So, all that said. Having them close together is more work in
the short run but I think in the long run it's easier and more
fun for the kids and parents.
Bottom line....I think it doesn't matter what the age spread is.
My brothers and I are are 7 and 13 years apart....I never had
siblings for playmates. I had one brother who teased me and one
who was my wonderful big brother/daddy type. When my middle
brother went away to college we became close friends..as I grew
up I also became friends with his friends. Today he and his wife
and daughter are of the most important people in my life.
My 2 boys are 4 1/2 years apart....they fight, they play, they
fight, they play. As they get older they have more in common.
I think it was easier for me having an infant with one child at
least a little bit self sufficient.
I have friends with kids 18 months apart (+/-)...it's really
hard the first few years taking care of two babies, but usually
they kids play with each other....OR NOT!!
There's also no saying that you will get pregnant when you hope
to/or if you're adopting that you'll get the adoptive baby when
you hope to.
So, again, I don't think there is an ideal age spread. Each has
its plusses and minus's. Good luck,
Well, my kids are 14, almost 11yrs and almost 11 months.
But, I won't be very helpful, because I think both scenarios
were ''perfect'' at the time the younger child was born.
Remember that if you work you'll be paying childcare for two
children either way...so you can decide to spend it NOW, or
LATER. Maybe with two under 3 you'd decide to take time off
and eliminate childcare costs (when my daughter was in
day care that was a popular choice, because the care was
so expensive it was not cost-effective with two --- and many
families had at least one parent who wanted to be home).
Like many decisions we want to be logical -- the spacing
between kids is not. My sisters were 16 months apart and
hated each other. My nieces were 16 months apart and are
best friends. You may have to make the decision on other
grounds...and determine to make the best of what you get.
As you noted, what's good at one age may not be at another,
so there isn't a perfect answer. Good luck with what
My 2 cents: my kids are 4 years apart and that worked very well
for us in several ways, including allowing us to recover
financially so that we could afford extended work leave with the
However, this is the best advice I have ever heard on this topic:
the best time to have the next child is when the parents are ready
this page was last updated: Feb 10, 2007
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network