Q: We have a toddler and are thinking about getting pregnant again. Is there an ideal age difference between siblings?

A: 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

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