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child spacing

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

So...We always though we wanted to have 2 kids that were 3-3.5 years apart.  DD is 21 months now and that would mean I would have to try to get pregnant this summer.  It's always been the plan but now that we are getting closer to it I'm really having second thoughts.  Many of my friends with similar aged toddlers are having their 2nd babies or are pregnant right now and it seems to make sense in the way that I would have lots of 2nd time mama friends with similar aged kids...

 

But every time I think of getting pregnant again I start to get worried.  I guess the main thing is that DD is still so much a "baby" to me even though she's almost 2.  She needs my constant attention during the day to play with her and entertain her and at night to be able to sleep by nursing, and she still night-wakes ALOT to nurse.  We still nurse alot during the day and cosleep every night and I have no idea how being pregnant and especially actually having a second baby would fit in to our dynamic.

 

I'm 3 years apart from my sibling and so is DH.  I've always been told that 3 years is a great spacing because then the kids will be close enough to be friends (that is true for DH and myself with our siblings) and they will be in school together and can look out for each other.  DH is really into having a close spacing because mainly he wants me to go back to work sooner rather than later.  I'm committed to being a SAHM now but when my kid(s) start school I can look into starting to go back to work.  He would like me to be pregnant with #2 now so we don't have to wait years more for me to go back to work but I can't imagine having another one at the moment. 

 

But I was thinking of waiting longer.  Maybe another year?  Then they would be 4-4.5 years apart.  In my mind that means that DD will be at an age where she is less of a "baby" herself and she will understand more about what a newborn baby needs and can even help me(?) sometimes with things.  Also by age 4 I am assuming she will have weaned and be sleeping through the night most of the time and will be ready for her own sleeping space and can leave my bed for me and the new baby.  Also she will have started preschool which might help me not feel so overwhelmed with being a SAHM of 2 during the day.  But is that too much to ask of a 4 year old?  Should I wait longer?  5 year spacing?  Or is that really too long?

 

It's a really hard decision to make and I am just curious what others have done and what your experience is.

post #2 of 23

4 years is ideal in hunter-gatherer societies.  So, anthropologists tend to try to have their kids at that spacing.  It seems to work well in the literature, and that's what I'm aiming for.  She'll be potty trained, way more independent, and hopefully doing some preschool, so I can have time for the new baby.

 

We'll see!

post #3 of 23

I am 4.5 years apart from my sis to the day and we have always had a fabulous, close but not competitive relationship. I am thinking about the same issues. I still feels like DD is such a baby and needs all my attention. How would another babe who needs constant attention fit into that? And how does mama get any sleep/rest in the bargain. I'm not sure what the answers are but I do know people have kids closer and farther apart all the time and the parenting probably makes a big difference in how it all works out.  Good luck figuring it out!

post #4 of 23

I have been wondering about this too.  I thought we were being conservative in wanting to wait until DD was 2 to even think about trying to have another baby.  I have a lot of friends who have two under two.

 

It's good food for thought to read about this 4 year spacing.

post #5 of 23

I could have written your post almost word for word.

 

I can't speak to the parenting experience since we currently have a 20 month old and haven't decided when to have another one (we were also thinking 3-4 years), but my brother and I are 5 years apart and have always gotten along really well. The biggest drawback is that we were homeschooled together until high school, but when I went to school he became sort of an afterthought and my mother recalls that being hard on him. It did lead to something of a rupture in our relationship; we didn't fight, but we grew apart because we were in such different stages. In retrospect I'd like my children a bit closer together than he and I were, but my parents were happy to have us so far apart--they got more solo time with both of us that way (we have no other brothers/sisters). DH and his sister are 8.5 years apart and that's definitely farther than we'd want just two children--they didn't have a lot in common growing up, though they get along fine.

 

My problem is my heart is telling me all of a sudden (within the last month or two) that I want another baby sooner rather than later, although I am certainly concerned about DS being too little. I find myself half hoping that we had an accident this month, though I'm also nervous about it. I'm getting frustrated with nursing a toddler to sleep every night (I spent two hours with him tonight and he still didn't fall asleep after all that), and I have to be honest--I'm horrible at playing with him all day, every day. I want a sibling for him partially so that I don't have to be the only one watching him dump his toys for the 428th time onto the living room rug. I know this is precious time, and I know it would be harder at first having two, but in the long run I hope his life is as enriched by having a sibling as mine has been, and maybe having them closer in age would be better for our family.

 

We have hashed over the same considerations you and your DH have, down to your career (I'm an aspiring midwife, so in my case, I'll be ramping up my education when my children are a bit bigger), and there are no easy answers. I'm certainly worried about cutting the breastfeeding relationship short (though I would try to nurse through, even if I lost my milk, and I'd probably tandem if I could stand it), and we are planning on getting a much bigger bed so the family bed could continue (though we also want to get a toddler bed anyway for occasional use).

 

I think people deal with what they have to deal with, but your toddler would have to grow up faster, and maybe that's not what you want. There's nothing wrong with waiting longer. I know there'll be some heartache on your part for the older child either way. If your heart is telling you to wait, that's what I would do; this time is so short in the grand scheme of things. Now if I could just convince myself of the same thing...

post #6 of 23

I'm on the other end of this with an almost 2 yr old and a 3 week old.  But I have a brother 4 years younger than me.  We always got along OK, but never had much in common.  First he was too young for my games, then I was too old for his, without a lot of time in between to play together.  Some of it was our very different personalities, but I do kind of wish I'd had a closer sibling. 

post #7 of 23

nm


Edited by ElliesMomma - 5/28/11 at 11:38pm
post #8 of 23

I love close spacings. my boys are exactly 2 years apart and they get along so well. my youngest will be 2y and 5 months when this baby is born. wiith my oldest being 4 i can see why people like the bigger gaps as he can do so many things for himself. But at the same time kids grow and adapt amamzingly they really do. i have been amamzed at the changes in my children leading up to this baby. I know they spacing is great for us and yes it has it's days where it is really hard. but watching them play together makes it worth it.

 

I was 6 years older than my sister and honeslty I really didn't like her. In my mind she came in a ruined my life. Dh fights constantly ( in both friendly battles and not so friendly battles) with his younger brother 4 years difference. ( still now even though they are grown men, but it's gotten better over the last few years, it's a big personality thing between them though too!)

Yet gets along great with his older brother ( by two years)

 

Really it depends on what you are going to feel is best for you and your family

post #9 of 23

lurk.gif

 

I always thought before I had kids and while I was pregnant I'd want to start TTC our second when our first turned 2. Now my son will be 2 in May and I feel no where near ready to have another! I see so many other moms even with kids younger than mine talking about ttc and having baby fever and I just don't feel it at all. I too feel like my son is still a baby and honestly I'm enjoying him too much right now. I'm excited as he gets older and we can both start enjoying more things that I think having a newborn would stop us from doing. (Or maybe not stop entirely but at least make a little more difficult.) Now I keep thinking I want to try when he's four that way he'll be definitely potty trained, done breastfeeding, and ready to start his own adventure in school and I'll be able to have one on one time with the newborn at home just like I did with him. Then again that makes me worry that starting kindergarten AND getting a new sibling might be hard on him. It's such a big decision but I don't really think there is a right answer and there's pros/cons to every age gap. I know one day I'll get that feeling again and feel ready but now isn't right. I still haven't even gotten my first PP period so I probably couldn't get pregnant even if I wanted to ... knock on wood lol.

post #10 of 23

I have three kids: almost 6, 4, and 17 months.  The first two are ~22 months apart and the second two are ~33 months apart.  Personally, I found the closer spacing to be easier.  My son, not quite two, adapted almost immediately to having a little sister, and now, at 4 and 6, I couldn't imagine a better relationship between them.  They play together, look out for each other, teach each other things. 

 

When my third was born, my daughter was 33 months.  She had been potty-trained for more than a year, was verbal, talked a lot about the baby we were expecting, and I thought the spacing would be easier.  As it turned out, though, she had much more of a "transition" to make, and seemed to struggle more with the addition of a baby than my son did when she was born.  She was always very gentle and sweet with the baby, but she acted out a lot towards us--even when we felt that we were going out of our way to preempt that sort of behavior by giving her lots of attention, et cetera.  

 

In both cases, I nursed through the pregnancy and tandem nursed (am *still* tandem nursing the younger two), but I found that easier when the older child was younger as well (a little surprisingly). Tandem nursing my oldest two never bothered me at all and, in fact, I tandem nursed through my entire third pregnancy (my oldest weaned a few months after my third was born).  With the younger two, though, I often find myself wishing the older's nursing would taper off a little more quickly, something that rarely occurred to me with my son.  

 

For me, I think that 3 has the potential to be a really difficult age, and I personally wouldn't choose that spacing again.  Adding a new sibling when she was hitting a sort of difficult age anyway just compounded things.  I enjoyed the closer spacing, but since you're not considering that, I would personally advise waiting another year and leaving 4 years between them.  Looking at my 4-year-old now, I think she would be much better-equipped to deal with a new sibling now than she was 1.5 years ago, though I can't speak to how their short-or-long-term relationship might play out.

post #11 of 23

originally we planned to have DS potty learned before having another - I only wanted one in diapers at a time - but honestly got the baby itch around the end of his first year. Our goal was to nurse to 12 months, and then we would be open to pregnancy. DS turned 14 months yesterday and we found out I am pregnant with our second. They will be about 22 months apart. I am excited to see how they grow together. I feel like I want another have this one, but the spacing may be a little further apart.

 

My sister and I are 6 1/2 years apart. We have very little in common and don't really get a long. Some of it is personality, but also our parents were at different places in their lives when they had each of us, so that had an affect too. I wouldn't choose spacing that great. I think max is 4-5 years apart. But for everyone, this answer will be different.

post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 

I wanted to thank you all for your replies.  I sat down and read every word and am thinking about all that you all said.  I loved getting so many varied replies of what worked or didn't work for you all, and getting replies from those who had kids closer and further apart.  I am considering all you had to say and can't wait to hear more experiences!

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Courtney-Ostaff View Post

4 years is ideal in hunter-gatherer societies.  So, anthropologists tend to try to have their kids at that spacing.  It seems to work well in the literature, and that's what I'm aiming for.  She'll be potty trained, way more independent, and hopefully doing some preschool, so I can have time for the new baby.

 

We'll see!



I'm so curious about where you found the information about spacing 4 years apart was ideal for HG societies.  I've never heard this before and am so very interested to read more about it.

post #14 of 23

Well a lot can change between now and this summer, you know?  At 19 months, I was ready to jump off of a cliff with my DD (first and only).  Now she'll be 2 in a few weeks, and the idea of another baby has creeped into my mind.  In the last six months, she's started STTN, often in a toddler bed.  She's stopped screaming for hours on end.  She's demonstrated some compassion for others, especially Elmo.  As she becomes more of a little person, I see more space in our family, and more attention to give to a newborn.  So maybe 3 years is the right spacing for us.

 

As for me, I have a brother 2 yrs. 3 mos. younger.  We hated each other growing up, but got closer after high school.  DH has 2 sisters, 5 years and 13 years older than him.  He rarely speaks to either of them, and was never close.  For my family, I can see pros and cons to both, and really whatever you decide will feel right for your family. 

post #15 of 23

I don't buy into the theory that spacing makes or breaks a sibling relationship, personality of the children is huge IMO. I have a sister exactly 2 years younger then me, we hated each other growing up and today as adults, we tolerate each other. For us, having more space would of been better and then maybe we would of had a change at a more meaningful relationship. 

 

My first two are 3y10m apart, I loved that spacing and if I had only wanted two children then it would been great, only we wanted 4. Each child has gotten closer together, I still prefer the wider spacing. It is easier on me. My 2 and 3rd were 2y and 6m apart, 3 and 4 will be 2y3m, a spacing that is really too close for me. A two year is just a big baby. When DD2 was born and DD1 was almost 4, it was such a huge help. DD2 ended up with health problems and DD1 was able to basically care for herself a lot of time. 

post #16 of 23

I got pregnant when DD1 was 17 mo. and I was really worried, for all the reasons you mentioned.  I thought she was still such a baby and I really had a lot of grief at the beginning of the pregnancy.  Now that DD2 is 8 mo. old I can honestly say that's it's been great.  Not easy, but great.  I see their emerging friendship and it just makes my heart smile.  They are close enough to enjoy the same things (but also fight over them!), and I've really seen my older DD blossom into a great big sister.  I was just commenting to DH that I'm glad we had them closer together because DD1 is now almost 3 and definitely getting out of the baby stage, which means we can do so much more stuff with her.  I think if we would have waited longer it would be harder to go back to having a baby, but since we were already there it made it easier to deal with.  I'm glad we're pushing through the baby stage and look forward to be being able to do fun vacations/activites as a family.

Whatever you end up with is the right spacing for your family.  There is no "best spacing" and your kids will adapt to whatever happens.  I think it's normal to have the concerns you're having, no matter what the ages are.  FWIW, DD1 was still co-sleeping and BF and VERY dependant when I got pregnant.  We slowly weaned her into her bed and she stopped nursing when my milk dried up at 21 mo.  I've had to be creative to make sure that she gets her needs met, but I truly believe that the addition of DD2 has definitely outweighed any lack attention. 

Good luck!

post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by nukuspot View Post


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Courtney-Ostaff View Post

4 years is ideal in hunter-gatherer societies.  So, anthropologists tend to try to have their kids at that spacing.  It seems to work well in the literature, and that's what I'm aiming for.  She'll be potty trained, way more independent, and hopefully doing some preschool, so I can have time for the new baby.

 

We'll see!



I'm so curious about where you found the information about spacing 4 years apart was ideal for HG societies.  I've never heard this before and am so very interested to read more about it.


 

Mother Nature, by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.  Evolutionary biology is a pet interest of mine, but that is an awesome book. She's one of my favorite authors.

 

 

     There is good reason to suppose that those foraging mothers living the most arduous habitats, such as the !Kung San of the Kalahari Desert, gave birth only after very long, four- to five-year intervals. By the time a toddler was three years old, he would have been carried by his mother some four thousand miles. Under the conditions in which these nomadic foragers lived, infants had to suckle frequently just to keep hydrated as well as nourished. Even though a few solid foods would have been introduced by six months of age, survival depended on nursing well into the fourth year. To such an infant, it's mother was cradle, protection, mobility, breakfast, midmorning juice, lunch, and dinner.

     The !Kung are an extreme case.  Still, there is little doubt that over the last million years or so, infants have always striven to remain in continuous contact with their mothers for at least the first few years of life.  This was the infant's first choice, but living up to this "Pleistocene ideal" of mothering may have been tough for a mother to do -- even in the Pleistocene. The human mother in continuous contact with her infant for four or five years more nearly represents a primate infant's favored scenario, the scenario most compatible with its well-being. But this preferred scenario is not the only one mothers employed. Wherever reasonably safe alloparental options were available, human mothers made use of them, as many mothers in foraging societies in Central Africa and South America still do. Ethnographic evidence from foraging peoples like the Aka and the Efé, as well as new evidence form other primates, suggests that alloparents were more important alternative to continuous one-on-one contact with the mother than Bowlby had realized.

     In the human case, the extended half-decade of physical closeness between a mother and her infant so typical of other apes tells us more about the harshness of local conditions and the mother's lack of safe alternatives than the "natural state" of all Pleistocene mothers. As Emory University anthropologist and nutritionist Daniel Sellen joked recently, the only people in the world who nurse their babies for five years are the !Kung and women anthropologists.

post #18 of 23

I agree with the poster who said that spacing doesn't make or break a sibling relationship. My only sibling (my sister) and I are 9.5 years apart. As adults we are extremely close, Growing up she made an effort to cultivate a relationship with me (the younger sibling.) We have a very special relationship that transcends the age gap. I think sibling dynamics are unpredictable and it's best not to become overly concerned with a perfect order of spacing.

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by corrieoseal View Post

I agree with the poster who said that spacing doesn't make or break a sibling relationship. My only sibling (my sister) and I are 9.5 years apart. As adults we are extremely close, Growing up she made an effort to cultivate a relationship with me (the younger sibling.) We have a very special relationship that transcends the age gap. I think sibling dynamics are unpredictable and it's best not to become overly concerned with a perfect order of spacing.



I agree with this as well. I have 8 siblings two of which are less than two years apart from me. I was somewhat close to my sister growing up but not the other, a brother. Now as adults I'm closer to the brother and acutally another sister who is 10 yrs older than me. So I think it's true that most of the time sibling relationships are based on personality and have little to do with age gap.

 

My ds's are 4.5 yrs apart although now only 5.5yrs and 1 yr. But so far I've appreciated the age gap as a parent. I did go back to work between the two of them, but that was financially necessary and partly the reason they are spaced as they are. I stayed home with ds1 for the first 18 months and now have been doing the same for ds 2. I guess if I could have stayed home through all of that I might have chosen to space them closer to 3.5 yrs. I could see that if I had had ds2 when ds1 was 3.5-4 yrs that would have been a nice spacing too. Although I am appreciating the solo time I have with ds2 now that ds1 is in kindergarten this year.

 

However all that said. I was not emotionally ready to have a second child before I did. I felt overwhelmed as a parent and ds 1 was fairly high needs and a very anxious child so I think that also played into my experience. 

post #20 of 23

DS was 29 months when I found out I was pregnant.  He had been doing great sleep wise, developmentally, listening, etc and I though 3 year difference would be good for all of us.  As soon as I got pregnant, I immediately had buyers remorse, rethinking how much DS needed me, how our relationship would change, etc. Well, I went on to loose that baby at 7.5wks and as much as we were hurt by the loss, I think both DH and I were relieved in a sense, realizing no DS isn't, nor are we, really ready to juggle two.  My thing is now, screw thinking about the spacing, for our family.  Stop obsessing about ages, ease of play, grandparent age, etc.  We're good parents who can work at building strong and sweet sibling relationships no matter the age.  We'll know when it feels absolutely right because there won't be a second thought or buyers remorse, we'll all be readier.  And when that day comes for you, you'll know.  If right now it doesn't feel right, wait till it does <3

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