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Is there an ideal age difference between siblings?

We have a toddler and are thinking about getting pregnant again. Is there an ideal age difference between siblings?
Submitted by Parents.com Team

So many parents worry about this, and the truth is there really is no perfect amount of time to wait between siblings. No matter when you bring a new baby into the house, there will be a period of adjustment for other children regardless of their ages. Although it's natural to want your children to have a close and loving relationship, it's likely that things like personality, gender, and individual interests -- rather than age alone -- will have more to do with how well they play together. That said, there are upsides to having your children closer together and upsides to spacing them farther apart. Here are a few things to consider as you decide what's best for your brood:

The advantages of children close in age are:

• You're already in a baby frame of mind and are used to dealing with diapers, babyproofing, and running on zero sleep.
• Children who are close in age are more likely to be natural playmates.
• Your first child may experience less sadness at no longer being the only child.

The advantages of siblings that are spaced further apart are:

• Older children can better understand big concepts like patience, sharing, compassion, and cooperation.
• Children under 3 need a lot of care and having two in this age range -- especially both in diapers! -- can be very taxing.
• You'll have more time to get to know each of your children as individuals.

So go with your gut on this. Ultimately, the best time to bring a new baby into the house is when you and your husband feel ready to parent another kid and manage a larger family, both emotionally and financially. And remember, if you create a home where there's enough time, energy, and affection for everyone, your kids' age difference won't matter.

Copyright 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

Community Answers9

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Before I had kids, I thought I'd like them about 2 years apart. My first two were about 3 years apart and the next two will be about 4 1/2 years. I'm actually glad it turned out this way because I tend to be really exhausted and nauseous during my first trimester so I like having the youngest be able to eat, get dressed and use the potty without a lot of help by the time I get pregnant again. I didn't plan the spacing so far, but if I have another one, I think 3 years sounds good.
Submitted by soulandangels
3+ years. I found the first year to be horrid. No sleep at all. I wouldn't want to deal with two small children at the same time. I'd end up in a mental institute. I grew up in a big family with a variety of age differences. My sisters were the closest in age and fought the most, so much for the 'natural playmate' theory. The ones 2 or more years apart got on much better. I think 5 years would be ideal because then we could have one in school allowing for more 1 on 1 time with a new baby.
Submitted by Seity
My brother and I are 18 months apart and we were very close growing up. We even had the same circle of friends. My first child is 8 months and my husband and I are trying again for a second. I have another reason for trying to have them close together - I will be 34 soon and I would like to have all of my children before I turn 35 and it gets more difficult and dangerous to get pregnant!
Submitted by armdillyo
my bf was an only child for 9 years til his mother married and had two more girls they are 2 years apart but he is 9 yrs older than the oldest girl they are still extremely close he txts them on a regular basis and embarrasses them in front of boy friends and still preforms the big brother role even being in his 20s while they are still in high school also he was old enough to help out and have more patience with the girls or so his mom has said so it doesnt have to be 2 yrs for them to be close
Submitted by Fran2009
My parents put 4 years in between us 3 kids. We weren't close growing up (always in different schools) and not all that close as adults. I wish we were. I think between 2 and 3 years is the best.
Submitted by manoble
We have a 5 and 3 year old. We spaced them this far on purpose that way they can grown up together and share some of the same experiences. it was a bit hard at first but it is all good now.
Submitted by nightshade1980
I have only 15 months between my daughter and son and they are very close. It does cause rows over toys etc but I think this would happen at any age!
Submitted by williamscm6
My wife and I have three children. We intentionally tried to space them about three years apart. I have an older sister who is 1 week shy of being three years older than me. Due to our upbringing and closeness, I put it out there that three years seemed logical. And it has worked just fine so far! The older children help out, and the transitions seem to be relatively painless...
Submitted by zendiablo1
My sister and I are 2 years apart and I wouldn't have it any other way. She's my best friend and I honestly don't think we'd be as close as we are if we were more than 3 years apart.
Submitted by UrjaDave