2 or 3 Years Between? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 03:27 AM - Thread Starter
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We've been recently talking about ttc a second child, but we can't decide whether to have an age gap of 2 or 3 years. Both have advantages, but we can't really settle on which. I like the idea of them being closer in age, party to get the harder part out the way, but also because I feel it'd be easier to homeschool children closer in age. It would also be nice for them to be closer in age for each other.
But then we consider 3 years as dd will be older when I have the baby, and can therefore help out a bit more and be a little more independant. I think really, I worry about coping with a toddler and a newborn at the same time. Is it quite a challenge, or do you find it a lot easier than expected? What are your experiences with these age gaps, and which is prefered?
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#2 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 11:53 AM
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My three kids are each two years apart (right now they are 6, 4 and 2). I really like this spacing overall.

-They play together well and are very close.

-Since being close in age makes them more at the same "level", it is easier to do group activities.

-When ds was born, dd was still in diapers full time. When my second dd was born, ds was still in diapers, and dd was in diapers at night - so, lots and lots of diapers!

I'd also consider a few things - if your older child is still night-waking, you may be faced with having two night-waking children at once - would you be ok with that? If your older one is still nursing, ditto.

Whatever the spacing, there will likely be some adjustment problems. In my experience, the most difficulty I've had with sibling issues was after my third child was born - dd was 4, ds was 2, and dd had a lot more problems than ds did with the transition, even though she had been through it before when ds was born when she was 2. I think in some ways a 2yo is less likely to be jealous of a baby.

Of course since I have no experience with a three year age gap I can't really compare.
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#3 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 01:08 PM
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My oldest is older by 4 years...then my 3 1/2 year old and 2 year old.

Honestly...it really doesn't matter how much or little space you have between them, it's hard to have kids. LOL

With my oldest...the struggle is keeping her stuff "intact" from the younger ones. She's still close to them and loves them very much, plays, etc. with them...but being that she's older she has things that they just couldn't handle without breaking, etc. So, there is a constant battle over that (which we just resolved by putting a real door lock on with a combination lock box on the door knob so only she--and my hubby and I--can open). It's kept the boys out of her room very well so far.

It's a bit harder with the boys because they are 18 months apart. The first 6 months were really hard...but they do play very well together and it's getting easier as time goes on.

So, either way you do it...you're still going to have the struggles, etc.
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#4 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 03:18 PM
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I have four kids, all 2 years apart. We like the spacing, and it has worked out well. I can see some benefit to a 3 yr gap, especially if it's the difference in sleeping though the night, weaning, potty learning, etc. Obviously, most 3 yr olds are more independent than most 2 yo's... that said, with all of my kids, 3 was the most challenging year by far. So, I imagine dealing with a 3 yr old and a newborn at the same time and it seems stressful, to me. Not that having a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old is that much easier - but by a year my LO's were walking and not as clinging and such, so I had more patience for the trying 3's.

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#5 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 03:25 PM
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My kids are 2 years and 4 months apart. Currently, DD is 4 yrs 8 mos and DS is 2 yrs 4 mos now (so my son is the exact age my daughter was when I had him). They do play well together, but I have to say, if I were to do it over, I think I would have preferred 3 years apart. It's not really because of the way they are now, but how I felt when I was pregnant, etc. And, obviously, this is all so individual...

Though my 2nd child was planned, and I thought I wanted one right away, I freaked out when I got pregnant. The main thing that came up for me was that my DD was too young for me to have another child already, and she really needed all my attention then. It was really difficult for me being pregnant with an 19-28 month old. It was just exhausting. And I really, really, really felt like I was somehow cheating my daughter. And I have to say, looking at my DS now (who, as I mentioned, is the exact same age as DD was when he was born) and the amount of attention he requires, I just can't imagine throwing a newborn in the mix. Maybe that's because of the residual feelings I had when I was pregnant.

I also must say that I felt like crap for most of my 2nd pregnancy. I had morning sickness until 26 weeks. I puked whenever I changed my daughter's diaper. I just felt really bad physically and had little energy. I'm not telling you this because I think this would happen to you, but it might have everything to do with my feelings about having them that close together.

All that being said, DD was soooo excited about DS. She chose not to be in the room when he was born, but she came running in the moment she heard him crying, and was just extremely delighted and jubilant about the whole thing. She was very into me being pregnant and having a little baby, etc, etc. So, there wasn't really a problem with jealousy until later on. I do think having the baby retarded the process of getting her potty-trained, etc, but all that is not the end of the world.
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#6 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 03:35 PM
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I think it also depends on how much you enjoy the baby stage. Personally, I love having a baby. I don't want to get it out of the way, I want to savor it. I love nursing and cding and all those baby things. Mother nature is preventing me from getting pregnant right now, but even if I was fertile, I would really want to add another baby to the mix just yet (dd is 19 mos btw). I feel like I wouldn't enjoy either kid for a long time. We are looking into a 3 year spacing, maybe longer. Both dh and I are three years from our sibs and we all get along fabulously. Also I think it's sort of a mistake to plan your kids close in age so they will be playmates. You never know if your kids will like each other.

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#7 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 03:43 PM
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I've done both. My first child was 27 months when the second was born, and the second child was 5 days until turning three when the third child was born. Honestly, the harder adjustment was with the third. But I truely believe that it is because of my seconds personality. He's very independant, always has been, but that just meant he thought he could do things like climb the fridge to get something while I was stuck on the couch with a nursling. We've worked it out now (baby is 4.5 months) but it was a little rocky at first. I really don't remember the adjustement from one to two, mostly because I had such a hard recovery from the second delivery (severe pph) and I've forgotten most of it.

Mama of three.
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#8 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 03:45 PM
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DD1 is April 07 and DD 2 is July 09 those 3 extra months made a difference in DD1's development for sure. I do like the 2 year spacing. DD1 and DD2 are very different kids. DD2 was extremely easy as compared to DD1 who was so high needs I wanted to die some days. This is our first cycle trying for baby 3. If I was to get pregnant there would be less than 21 months in between DD2 and DC3. I love the baby stage, love nursing, cloth diapers. I also want to get my last pregnancy going so we can do something permanent for birth control finally and not have to worry about it. Having two in diapers never seemed like that big of a deal I suppose. DD2 just potty learned and while its great, I really dont see that as a huge weighing factor (while I was pregnant soooo many people would comment about "2 in diapers").

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#9 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 03:48 PM
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When this baby is born my kids will be 3.5 years apart and that feels just about right for us. I didn't want the gap to get too much bigger, but I agree with a pp who really enjoys "savoring" the baby stage! I wanted to wait until my baby really wasn't much of a baby anymore before jumping in again.

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#10 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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One of the main things that makes me think 3 years is best is that all our attention will be on dd for a while longer. I want to give her all the attention I can and make the most of there just being us. Also, I'm not sure how well I'd cope being pregnant while looking after a child under two.

We are very fortunate in that she has slept through the night since she was 3 weeks old. This is most likely due to the fact that I had to give her formula having failed to breastfeed. But with the next one I'm determined to successfully breastfeed, and I'm really looking forward to having the opportunity.

So I think we're just going to wait until next year to start ttc. We'll be better prepared, and we will have had more time to concentrate on our daughter. There will of course also be the bonus of only having to change one child's nappy!
Thanks everyone for all the help!
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#11 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 06:45 PM
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I'd probably prefer 3-ish years between kids, but we want 3-4 so I think we'll TTC when DD is 1.5 or so.
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#12 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 07:46 PM
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Not speaking from experience here but from talking to others it seems like closer spacing is harder in the earlier years but easier in the later ones.

Three years apart seems like the sweet spot for keeping them close enough to be companions while retaining parental sanity and not shorting the older one on 'baby time.'

That said, I feel safer aiming for more like a 2-2.5 year separation because that leaves more time to have a third if we want it. (Or, better said, if I can ever convince my DH to want it )

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#13 of 31 Old 07-12-2010, 09:59 PM
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My kids are 28mo apart, and personally I'd say this is the MINIMUM spacing, lol. I can't imagine having two kids under 2--not because of the baby (I find newborns and infants really easy), but bc of the toddler...

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#14 of 31 Old 07-13-2010, 11:48 AM
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I vote for 3+ years. My first two are 21.5 months apart and it was sooooooo hard! My oldest wasn't old enough to understand what was going on or to get himself snacks or to entertain himself for any length of time. Not to mention 2 in diapers and 2 wanting to be rocked to sleep at the same time. We waited 3yrs 2mths between our 2nd and 3rd and it was so much better! the 3 year old was potty trained, she was able to get herself a snack if I was nursing the baby, she was able to fall asleep by herself, she could walk to the car by herself and buckle her carseat. Life was so much easier with a larger gap.

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#15 of 31 Old 07-13-2010, 03:12 PM
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Our kids are a 3 year gap, it's been awesome. We could have done a 2 year, but it would have been hard. Our DD was out of diapers at age 20 months, but she is a firecracker. It would have been difficult to be pregnant with DS when she was in the early toddler years, it was hard with her being 2.5 and my being pregnant, but no matter what I think that it would be difficult because my pregnancy was.

The age gap is great, she is helpful and now that she is almost 4 it's great. 3 was pretty good for her, she was a bit less chaotic than 2. DS loves her and she is pretty good with him, I think if she was 2 almost 3 she'd be way rougher on him, she had little impulse control last year.

For us the 3 year gap is prefect.

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#16 of 31 Old 07-13-2010, 03:31 PM
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Our kids are 3 years apart and I love the spacing. Ds was old enough to have a little patience and understanding. He wasn't a toddler anymore. Not having 2 preschoolers was nice too. I did have 2 in diapers for a little bit (ds trained at 3 1/2), but it wasn't that bad.

They're close enough in age to play well together. In fact, they're upstairs right now, with ds pretending to be dd's dog. Part of this might be my kids' personalities, but since they're at different stages of development, they're not in competition so much.

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#17 of 31 Old 07-14-2010, 12:02 PM
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I don't think that spacing as as much to do with siblings playing together as the personalities of the siblings. My 3 oldest are 2.5 and 4 years apart. Erica and Angela were the ones who played together, not Joy and Erica. From the point of view of a spectator and listening to Joy (Joy's 3 are currently 5, 3, and 18 months) and Erica (20 months and due in Sept.), siblings under 3 years apart are hard in the early ages. Also what no one so far as mentioned, a 3 year gap between children is better physically for the mother. It gives her 2 years for her body to recover and replenish between pregnancies.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#18 of 31 Old 07-14-2010, 01:12 PM
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The three-year gap would mean only one year with both in college, which might be easier financially. If you're truly on the fence, you'll have to go with little tie-breakers like that.
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#19 of 31 Old 07-14-2010, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
I don't think that spacing as as much to do with siblings playing together as the personalities of the siblings.
Also what no one so far as mentioned, a 3 year gap between children is better physically for the mother. It gives her 2 years for her body to recover and replenish between pregnancies.
Good lord, yes! Mine are 3 years apart: the "perfect" spacing. (oops, not planned at all) They should have switched roles. The little one should have been born first, she'd make a great big sis. The older would make an excellent little sis. As it is, they CLASH SO BAD. Don't make your decision based on "playmates" cause you can't force people, even your kids, to like each other

I did like the fact that DD1 could entertain herself and grab a snack or a drink when I was busy with the baby. Adjusting to a new baby was hard on all of us, though. Like pp said, *Having kids is hard!*

Body-wise, I think 3-4 year spacing is better on the health of the mother.

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#20 of 31 Old 07-14-2010, 03:29 PM
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tbh, i do not see a difference between 2 or 3 years... and since ttc can take a while sometimes (even after having gotten knocked up without trying twice, it took us 7 tries to do it this time) i say start with a 2 year gap and let nature decide for you.

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#21 of 31 Old 07-14-2010, 03:35 PM
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We waited 2.5 years. We were TTC recently having decided that it's got to be either two babies, or a child and a baby, but NOT A BABY AND A TODDLER. Because that was so freaking hard.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#22 of 31 Old 07-14-2010, 05:07 PM
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DD1 and DD2 are 28 months apart and DD2 will be 28 months apart from her brother when he's born in August.

Both girls were potty trained by 2 so only 1 in diapers at a time. The girls love to play together, we'll see what happens when with the next one.
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#23 of 31 Old 07-15-2010, 10:38 AM
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The gap between my first and second and second and third is 33 months. It was a difficult first few months when each baby arrived. The gap between my third and fourth ones is 43 months and I liked that a lot better!! It has been easier all around... Of course, you need to decide what is best for your family!
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#24 of 31 Old 07-15-2010, 12:24 PM
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there is a 5 year gap between my older 2 and that seems to be to much (we thought we only wanted one at that time) my youngest 3 are all 19 months apart and that is a little hard but only the fisrt few months because both littles one still need to be carried to the car and such but that only lasted a few months. i like the 19 month spacing because they are so close in age but we are TTC number 5 when youngest is almost 2 making it a 2.5-3 year spacing only because my 2nd youngest is SUCH a handful and worry that his little brother is going to follow in his foot steps.

Betsy, Mommy to DS (10) DD (4) DS (2) and DS (1)
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#25 of 31 Old 07-15-2010, 07:46 PM
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Well, I haven't actually done it yet, but after reading a lot of MDC threads and doing some other research we're hoping to have another baby (birth, not conception) when DD's a few months shy of four.

I never intended to space my kids this far apart, but:

- DD is currently 2 1/3. I can NOT imagine having a newborn to care for as well as her! She's not a "hard" toddler, but she still breastfeeds, including at night, cosleeps and is not toilet trained (the latter is probably because I'm lazy, not because she couldn't do it, but still). She's not ready to nightwean or sleep alone, and I don't fancy the thought of sleeping with a baby AND a toddler - and a husband - in a mere queen-sized bed.

- I'll tandem-nurse if I have to, but I'd like DD to be old enough that if I feel the need to wean during pregnancy, or if my milk dries up, it won't be such a disaster. I think it's 70% of women who lose their milk supply during pregnancy? I'd like to CLW but if we start TTC when DD turns 3, I won't feel too guilty abut weaning if I have to.

- I've been reading a lot of Traditional Foodsy stuff lately, and one thing that kept cropping up was that traditional cultures tend to space children to 4ish years, to enable the mother to recover her nutrient stores. My diet is OK but not great, and I'd like to do some aggressive nutrition before I TTC again. I'm the third closely-spaced child in my family (3 kids in under 4 years) and think I can see the results of Mum's nutrient depletion in her health and mine.

- I'm only 24 - had DD when I was 21 - so I still have plenty of time, in theory, to have several children with generous spacing.

- I love the idea of DD being a help rather than a hindrance when the new baby comes, being really curious and interested in the process of pregnancy and birth, etc.

Plus there are some shallower reasons - like, it's easier to ask people to babysit a baby and preschooler rather than a baby and toddler! And, in all honesty, we might TTC a few months sooner except that we're taking an overseas trip next March. And Disneyland doesn't let pregnant women ride the coasters.

I do feel twinges of guilt that DD won't have a super-close-in-age sibling, but then, in my experience it evens out in the end. I mosly fought with my close-in-age siblings growing up; now as a 24-year-old, I'm close with all of them, from the 28-year-old to the 15-year-old and 13-year-old. If I were starting my family in my late thirties I'd definitely space them closer, but as it is - I love DD dearly, but I find the whole process of pregnancy, birth, postpartum recovery etc very taxing and I like having a bit of space to just be me between babies.

That said, I'll let you know how it turns out. Could be a disaster! And it definitely puts more pressure on us to TTC "efficiently" - I'd rather not have kids 5 or 6 years apart, so I'd start to feel pretty stressed if we didn't successfully conceive within the first few months of trying. As far as I know I have no fertility issues and I do chart, which increases our chances of conceiving early - but, you know. Something else to consider...

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#26 of 31 Old 07-16-2010, 07:18 AM
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My 2 cents worth is:
1. unless you are a rabbit, you can't really exactly plan if it is goíng to be 2 or 3 years, hence the first t in ttc

2. No matter what the age difference, it seems to me totally luck of the draw - sex of the siblings, personality of each one, personality of parents....

3. my 2 are 2 years + 1 month apart and it is FABULOUS. For us. First 6 months were H-E-double toothpicks - having a newborn and a toddler is just wafully overwhelming. But after the baby was able to interact with the toddler, then walk and talk and play.... it has only gotten better and better. They are now 5 and 3 and the best of friends, and have been for 2 years. In our case, DS was first, and his personality is reserved and mellow, and also very imaginative. DD is more intense, but because of her more daring personality, because she is a sibling and imo because she is a girl, she has sort of caught up with DS so they can play and interact together really well. They still have their own interests (DS is into nature and legos, DD into drawing) but I think if there had been more years, they would be into totally different things. I keep holding my breath, grateful they are so compatible, and hoping it doesn't end.
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#27 of 31 Old 07-16-2010, 12:14 PM
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we are planning to ttc after dd turns 2 and aiming for a spacing of approximately 3 years. we got preg really quickly the first time (like literally the first cycle) so i'm not anticipating too many problems.

our reasons:
personal experience... i have a sister 18 mos younger than me and hated it... too much competition, bad personality mix, unresolved feelings of clinginess to my mom. my dh and his brother are 3 yrs apart and are much more relaxed in their relationship.

my career... financially we can't (don't want to) afford to have a second without me going back to work full time and getting that year of maternity leave (yay canada!), and emotionally i'm not willing to go back to work before dd is a least 1 yr old.

physical and emotional health... like PP's have mentioned, it's better for maternal health to space the babies out, and pregnancy was really unpleasant for me... i want to be feeling really healthy and stable and good before doing this again.

savouring the baby stage... i don't like the idea of "getting the hard part done." i want to savour all these stages for as long as possible and really enjoy this new little family before adding another to the mix. plus, dd has an easy going personality like her dad, i'm not really anticipating any really really terrible stages.

i think it's unwise to space kids close together solely for the purpose of playmates. personality has way more to do with enjoying each other than age... if they have the personalities to really like each other, they'll be friends no matter how close they are in age... if they have mismatched personalities, i think a close age spacing is more stressful for them and the parents.
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#28 of 31 Old 07-16-2010, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by scottishmommy View Post
I think it also depends on how much you enjoy the baby stage. Personally, I love having a baby. I don't want to get it out of the way, I want to savor it. I love nursing and cding and all those baby things. M
This. Of course, my kiddos will be 16 months apart, but if I had to do it again, I'd want it closer to three. Enjoy your pregnancy, the baby stages, ect. They'll never come again.

I feel I can't celebrate DS's babyhood or this new pregnancy properly. *sniff*

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#29 of 31 Old 07-17-2010, 02:09 AM
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We're trying to make this decision, too. I have a friend who's kids are 22 months apart, and my DS is 18 months right now. When I look at my friends' kids, and how her experience is going, I think I could do that, if I had her kids. BUT, my DS is different from her DS. My DS is more spirited & active & physical, and less verbal. So, I think it'd be harder for our family to have kids that close. Also, I really don't want to have another baby near the same month as DS (or me or DH), so we plan to try to aim for a different time of year.

So, I think it depends on your child.

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#30 of 31 Old 07-17-2010, 02:34 AM
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I have both. My oldest is 3 years older than my twins who are 2 years older than my youngest. Both gaps were intentionally planned to be that way.

For my family its perfect but as PPs have said I think that it is dependent on so many factors. I think closely spaced kids are easier for parents who can roll with the chaos that comes with that. I like having very closely spaced kids because it means that we travel as a pod (important in homeschooling IME) and because my kids connect as friends as well as siblings for their entire lives, which is important to me. I have friends with more widely spaced children and I think that it presents a lot of challenges for them once they are through the baby stage. And IME it is hard to savour the baby stage once you have more than one or two kids. Things are just different and busier in ways that are hard to foresee when you only have one kid.

Good luck ttc!

Blessed partner to a great guy, and mama to 4 amazing kids. Unfortunate target of an irrationally angry IRL stalker.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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