It’s a question we see pop up time and time again among the Bump community and one that many parents clearly spend a lot of time pondering. What is the best age gap to have between your offspring? Should the fruit of your womb and seed be close in age so they can support each other’s growth? Or should they be spaced a little more widely, so they have a little more room to grow?
We often see posts from mummies asking others how they’ve found particular age gaps and what we’ve learned over the years is that there really isn’t a one ideal gap between one little squish and the next. However, its interesting to learn that the average age gap in the UK has increased over the years and now sits just over three years between the first child and the second. This suggests that the cost of childcare may impact many family’s timings when it comes to introducing the newest member.
A research poll we carried out within the Bump, Baby & You community suggests that many people have a good idea of the age gap they’d like between siblings. The majority stated that they did/do know what age gap they’d like, thought lots of comments said things didn’t quite work out as planned.
Chloe Hipkiss: I never knew what age gap I wanted but ended up getting pregnant on the pill when my eldest was 3 months and they are 12 months apart now and honestly best thing I ever did – their bond is amazing.
Kim Southgate: I didnt know what age gap I wanted but mine are 14 months apart and have the best bond ever!
No – 36.46%
What influences age gaps?
Lots of factors come into play when parents try to decide when is the right time to try for another baby. Here are a few of the common points to consider when thinking about sibling age gaps:
- Health and stress on the body from pregnancy
- Financial situation
- Care commitment to existing children
- Career plans
- Childcare costs
If you’re unsure what age gap might suit you and existing siblings best, we’ve listed some of the benefits for having little ones super close and age, along with plus points for leaving it a little longer
Pros for having kids close in age (under two year age gap)
In our group we have mummies who have two under two along with those who have siblings who are separated by just two years. We hear lots of lovely things about brothers or sisters with a short age gap. Here are a few of the advantages to having babies close in age…
- Siblings close in age often bond closely
- If they’re around the same age, they’ll often be into the same things
- You’ve done the whole parenting thing recently so you’ll be in the know and up to date
- You should have lots of the kit already, though you may need to double up or add more
- Sleep deprivation or career pauses are in one block
- As they grow older they’ll play together and entertain each other
- Your older child can potentially spend time with you during maternity leave
Alicia Humphrey We planned so our second baby came exactly 2 years 9 months after our first.
Our eldest started preschool at 2 years 9 months, so it meant for a few hours a week, we could “relax” and have time with just our newborn. Our girls have such an amazing bond too! Our eldest is old enough to help out mummy and daddy, and loves her “bestest ever friend” she would do anything for her baby sister
Pros for slightly longer age gaps (3-5 years)
- The first child can feel secure in attachment as they’ve spent lots of time for you
- Mum’s body has a chance to recover – an age gap of 2-4 years carries the lowest risk of pre-term birth and low weight for baby
- Your older child can help to care for little one and learn responsibility
- Older child is likely to be able to access some free childcare
- If older child is in school or nursery, you’re not dividing your attention as much
- The younger child’s learning is stimulated by the older child
Can you think of any pros for either list that we have missed? What are the best and worst things about having children closer in age or having a wider age gap in your experience? Of course, wider age gaps can happen too and having toddlers and teens in the same family is a growing trend.Leaving a gap of five or more years between births is associated with more risks during pregnancy and birth. There are also additional risks associated with being an older mother should a gap mean that you find yourself creeping into your late thirties. But as we all know, having a family is rarely a case of ideals. The age gaps between children can be decided by failed contraception, health issues or fertility issues. As parents we can spend time considering what is the ideal but life gets in the way and things just pan out differently. And once you’ve worked out what *might* be the ideal time to introduce a little brother or sister for your little one, you’ve still got to ponder what the best number of children per family is. Any suggestions?