Redditor Bemoans Having a Toddler and a Newborn—Is There an Ideal Age Gap?

Parenting is hard. Could age spacing make it easier? Reddit chimed in.

The transition from one to two kids (or more) can be difficult. Suddenly, you need to divide yourself into more parts, and no amount of books or social media advice can prepare you for what's to come.

But does age spacing play a role? We often hear about parents with two kids under two years old having it especially hard—so many diaper changes and big feelings. But one parent recently welcomed another child to the family and is struggling with a three-year age gap between siblings. The person took to Reddit to commiserate.

An image of two siblings together.
Getty Images.

"No one ever talks about how you'll be raising a toddler in the terrible twos/threenager stage and a crying infant at the same time," wrote u/Betzy_b33, who has a 3-year-old and 9-week-old, in the Mommit subreddit.

The original poster (OP) believes the age gap will be nice in the long run, but the transition has been rough.

"Holy f*** is it hard," the OP continued. "We both know this time is temporary, and we wouldn't trade our girls for the world. I just wish we would've thought about the clash of the milestones between both ages more."

The Redditor ended the post by advising others to think long and hard about age gaps before going for another baby.

"If any of you are considering having a second child two to three years apart, I hope this post encourages you to do what we did not, and really consider what life will be like with a 2 or 3-year-old and an infant," they wrote.

Reddit appreciated the advice, but many of the nearly 300 commenters pointed out that there are highs and lows with any age gap.

"I have three girls, and there's a four-year gap between each. People said how smart we were, but now that they're 16, 12, and 8, it's hard to pick a movie or plan a fun activity. Maybe you're experiencing the cons now, and the pros will come down the road," replied the top commenter.

"I had three under four for a hot minute, and man, 3 is a rough age," wrote another seasoned parent.

"Mine are 8 months and 3.5 years, and I think it's been a good spread. The 3-year-old is good at independent play, though, so that helps a ton. Tantrum days are bad, though. The first few months were the worst," said someone else.

"We're five weeks into an eight-year age gap due to secondary infertility, and it's been great so far. The big kid understands what's going on, and it was pretty easy to set expectations for the changes that were coming," one person commented. This was a great reminder that a lot is out of our control when trying to build our families.

And one Redditor put it all into perspective by highlighting the ultimate light at the end of the tunnel.

"No matter how many kids you have, and no matter how they are spaced, one day you will realize that you no longer have to wipe anyone's butt," the person said.

So true. But is there an ideal age gap?

Research from 2018 found that it's best to wait at least 12 months between pregnancy to reduce risks such as pre-term delivery and death. A study from 2011 indicated that older siblings tended to perform better on math and reading achievement tests when there was a larger age gap (at least two years). But researchers conceded more data was needed to draw definitive conclusions.

Really, there are pros and cons to every age gap, and so much of it will depend on each child and parent. Experts suggest prospective parents consider the following when thinking about age gaps:

  • Mindset. Do you want to have both kids in diapers at once? Be responsible for multiple children who are dependent on you for everything from diaper changes to meal prep, as most kids under three years old are?
  • Playmates. Kids with smaller age gaps may be more likely to play together and run in the same friend circles as they grow up. Are these things important to you?
  • The older kids' feelings. Younger children are less likely to remember being an only child. At the same time, older kids may be more likely to embrace being a parent's helper and assisting with feedings, diaper changes, and snuggling. They understand concepts like patience, compassion, and empathy, which can go a long way in coping with the transition to life with a younger sibling.

Again, it's really what you, as the parent, think you and your family can best handle. There will be joys and challenges with every age gap. But whatever you do, don't shame others for their age spacing and understand that it's not a competition over who "has it harder."

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