If you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering whether now is the right time to have a second baby. For some women, the wondering begins when they’ve started to notice that all of their mamma friends are either busy growing baby bumps or are already back in the swing of newborn cuddles… leaving their ovaries feeling like they just might explode. Or perhaps you’re just thinking practically, wondering whether it’s time for you to think about a second child.
Its often hard enough trying to plan out your life with your first baby, but now things are a little different – you probably have another set of feelings playing on your mind. You might be worried that it’s not just about yourself and your partner anymore. Now you have to consider your first child and how he or she will react with the arrival of a new brother or sister. It is a common dilemma: how will a new baby fit into family life without taking any time or attention from other family members? If this is you, be sure to read our article, Loving Two: How Can I Love Another Child As Much?
The truth is, there is no right time to have a second baby – or a first, for that matter. Your family situation is unique, and what is right for your mother or your best friend may not be right for you. Whatever happens, you will realise that there are pros and cons, and you will feel like you ended up with a gap that worked for you at the time.
So, as you and your partner discuss the idea of a second child and what’s best for your family, here are some helpful hints on what you might like to consider:
Second Baby Consideration #1: Your First Child
Some families take the age of their first child into consideration. If you choose to have two children close together in age, you may have two children in nappies at one time. If your first child is in the midst of tantrums and toddler frustration when the new baby comes along, he may find it difficult to express his feelings about the new baby. If your first child is older, the two children may have less in common through childhood as a result of the age gap.
Second Baby Consideration #2: Childcare Costs
Childcare isn’t cheap, and if you’re relying on a private daycare to look after your children, you could find your monthly bill doubles with a second child. Some families choose to delay having a second baby until their first child is entitled to free daycare, or until he starts school.
Second Baby Consideration #3: Family Finances
It’s not just child care that costs money, a new baby will cost you money in other areas too. If you take maternity leave, you may find that your income decreases while you are away from work. You will also be forking out for nappies, playgroups and any other baby items you may need. As your second child grows up, family days and holidays out will be more expensive, as will trips to buy school uniforms. You will also be paying for another set of hobbies, school trips and university fees.
Second Baby Consideration #4: The Reality Of Pregnancy
If your first pregnancy was littered with health concerns, consultant appointments and bedrest, you should consider this when planning for a new baby. Even a problem-free pregnancy comes with its fair share of fatigue, morning sickness and grumpiness. Consider how this may affect your first child, and how you would cope with looking after your first child whilst pregnant. Do you have the support you need? Who can you call on to help you?
Second Baby Consideration #5: Sibling Love
If you wish your children to grow up as adorable little playmates (which will come with the inevitable biffo here and there), a shorter age gap may be your best bet. Children closer in age tend to share interests, toys and friends. If you decide on a much bigger age gap, you may find children have less in common growing up, and the older child may take on more of a mentor or care-taking role.
Second Baby Consideration #6: The Newborn Haze
Remember those mornings that crept up without you catching even a wink of sleep? And those evenings spent chained to the sofa for yet another cluster feed? Another baby means going through all of that again, so you should consider how that period will impact upon your first child. Will your child understand that you can’t play trains because the baby needs a feed? Does your first child still wake up in the night, meaning there might be times where you to and fro between children all night?
Second Baby Consideration #7: Your Independence
Parenting young children is tough. There are sleepless nights, tantrums, and a seemingly constant stream of needs to be met. It’s exhausting, but then one day, your children will become a little more independent, and they’ll need you less. You’ll be able to go out with friends more often, call in babysitters, and have time to get things done while the children entertain themselves. Having children close together minimises the time you will be parenting young children, and allows you to get your independence back sooner. With a bigger age gap, you may find yourself relinquishing your independence just months after finally getting it back after the first child.
Second Baby Consideration #8: Your Full Attention
Your first child probably spent his newborn days basking in your full attention. You may have spent months caring only for him, singing songs, reading stories and generally making sure he was happy at all times. If you enjoyed those baby days, and not everyone does, then you may wish for a bigger age gap to allow you to give your second child the same start in life. When your first child leaves for school in the morning, you’ll have all day to focus on your new baby. With a smaller age gap, you may feel that rather than focusing on one child at any time, you are constantly juggling the needs of two.
Second Baby Consideration #9: Your Age
Age plays a big part in this decision-making process. Because fertility decreases with age, you may wish to have children sooner rather than later, to give yourself the best chances of conception. If you had your first child later in life, you may feel that there is little time to wait before embarking on a second pregnancy. Increased maternal age can also increase the risk of certain pregnancy complications.
If you were younger when you had your first child, you may feel that you can wait a little longer before considering a second child.
Second Baby Consideration #10: Your Partner
What does your partner want? You need to sit down and discuss your ideals of family life. Is he longing for another child soon, or is he happy to wait a few more years before cradling a newborn once again? Open and honest discussion is the best way to establish how he feels, and to gently discuss any differences in your views.
Second Baby Consideration #11: What You Want
Sometimes, no matter what the practicalities are telling you, your heart wants something else. Think carefully about how you are feeling, and what you think would be the ideal time for you to have another baby. Once you’ve worked out how you feel, you can sit down and talk it through with your partner. Remember, you may need to reach a compromise that you both feel happy with.
It’s impossible to predict or know what the ideal age gap is for your family, there are always going to be challenges that we face in the present time and in the future – just as there will be the good things. Talking through the issues above may help you to prioritise what is most important for your family balance. Whatever age gap you choose, know that when your baby is finally in your arms, you probably wouldn’t have it any other way.