Sibling Age Differences Pros and Cons – should you have your children 1-2 years apart or wait longer to have a second child? The age difference in siblings is in fact a well-pondered decision when couples try to determine when to have their next child. There are pros and cons to every situation. I have two children that are just under two years apart. It was not planned, but we happily accepted it. It was a bit of a shock to find out we were having another when our first was not yet 14 months old, but it really has worked out the best for us.
Here’s my recap on some pros and cons after talking with moms in different scenarios. They are worded as older and younger child, whether this falls within a group of two children, or more than two.
Sibling Age Differences – Pros and Cons
Sibling Age Differences Pros and Cons – Less Than 2 Years Apart
Sibling Age Differences Pros – Less Than 2 Years Apart – Having kids close in age allows the chaos you experience with infancy and toddler years, to pretty much melt into one slightly longer stretch of chaos. For example, if you’re already changing diapers, you just continue to do so for a while longer. Also, you can keep all the same toys (don’t bother storing them). You can have an easy transition with the crib and other large baby items. Things will not be outdated either. All those items you spent so much money on are getting good use. Another plus is that your house is already baby-proofed! Finally, when you go to sell all those big baby items, they will still be current and appealing.
As the kids reach their toddler years, they may enjoy a lot of the same things and have similar interests. You can enroll them into programs if the age brackets overlap and save time (and money – second child is usually enrolled at a discounted rate) by not driving all over the place to get them to separate activities. They may also be very close and great play buddies. If you can tolerate the initial chaos of the infancy phase, it could be well worth it when they can play nicely together and occupy themselves with toys and activities that they both enjoy.
Sibling Age – Less Than 2 Years Apart Differences Cons – It’s not like having multiples, but it’s the next closest thing. Having more than one small child is tiring. It’s a lot of hard work and sometimes you don’t see the payoff until after the infancy period. Even then, you are faced with two small children and you have to deal with the overlapping tantrums, messes, illnesses, etc. There are very few, if any, chances for a break and it could take its toll on a marriage. Be sure to ask for help from family and friends, and never feel bad about accepting others’ offers to help. There may also be additional money involved as you need to invest in a double stroller, a second crib etc.
Sibling Age Differences Pros and Cons – 2 to 4 Years Apart
Sibling Age Differences – 2 to 4 Years Apart – Pros – At this point, it’s not as overwhelming for the parents, yet the kids are still close enough to get along. Having the older child be more independent makes it much easier to deal with the younger one since the older child requires a lot less attention. Additionally, as the older child is more independent and reliable, he/she can help out with the younger one in small ways, which can be a very rewarding experience. Also, having the older child in school allows you to enjoy the new baby. You will enjoy spending time with each child individually, focusing on each one’s interests and different levels.
With two further apart, you are not double dosing on any baby duties. Taking on the sleepless nights becomes easier because you have had time to recover from the first born. hanging diapers again? You’re a pro, and feel ready to take it on. You’ve had a nice break and can relish in all of the baby phases. You’re a bit more relaxed as well since you’ve done this before and it’s not as much of a “shock.”
Sibling Age Differences – 2 to 4 Years Apart – Cons – At a 4 year spread, they will eventually play together as friends, but it takes longer for them to get there. 5 year old will most likely not be interested in her one-year old sister’s toys. It’s more of an older sibling thing than it is a fun play buddy. Additionally, sometimes there is a greater resentment when the gap between two children is bigger. The first child is used to being the only one and it is difficult for him to accept a new one entering his world.
Sibling Age Differences Pros and Cons – 5 Years Apart or More
Sibling Age Differences – 5 Years Apart or More – Pros – It will be a quicker road for the smaller child to have a built in baby-sitter. And, the little one might listen better to the older one (vs. if they were closer in age). The older sibling may be more respected as a sitter, and not thought so much of as a “friend.”
The older one can help the younger one with homework, look out for her and set great examples. The older child may be a great mentor for the younger child. He will unknowingly provide language enhancement and goals for the younger sibling, and as the younger sibling gets older, the older child can help pave the way into the difficult teen years. As they grow older, they will be close to one another, and share great memories of the older sibling taking care of the younger one.
Sibling Age Differences – 5 Years Apart or More – Cons – You may have really felt out of the baby mode, and it is difficult to give up your new-found freedoms you have finally reached with your older child. You are now starting all over again. Your baby items are either outdated or too old and non-functional so you need to re-purchase all new big (i.e. expensive) items. Finally, you will feel like your children are in two separate worlds when it comes to schools, outside activities, and friends.
To learn more about sibling age differences, visit visit aap.org.