Age Gaps Between Children: 10 Reasons Why Big Gaps Rock

Age Gaps Between Children: 10 Reasons Why Big Gaps Rock

The truth is, there is no right age gap for your family – whatever age gap you end up with, you will find ways of making it work.

When trying to decide on an age gap, you will probably find yourself weighing up the pros and cons of each possible scenario, and struggling to decide which one sounds right for you.

The thought of adding a new child to the family can sound scary, especially as you worry about how your first child will react.

You may feel concerned that you no longer have the energy to run around after a toddler, or that you couldn’t cope with (even more) sleepless nights.

A common concern for singleton parents, is whether they will be able to love a second child as much (you will). If this is you, BellyBelly’s article Loving Two is a must read!

For those of you toying with the idea of the idea of a longer age gap between your children – anything from three years and up – here are 10 reasons why this is an awesome choice.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #1: The Older Child Will Understand

Your first child is a little older, and may be mature enough to better understand the concept of the new baby.

An older child is less likely to feel left out after the arrival of a new sibling and will be better placed to understand the needs of the new baby, and to react with compassion and empathy.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #2: The Younger Child Will Get Quality Time Too

Think back to those hazy days when your first child was born. Those long lunches with mum and baby friends, and the long afternoons spent cuddling and feeding on the sofa.

A longer age gap will allow you to give the second child the same treatment, though you may have school runs to fit in. Whilst your older child is at school, you will have time for some one-to-one bonding with the newest member of your family.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #3: An Older Child Can Get Involved

An older child will be able to help out with the new baby, and this will be a great opportunity for them to build a strong bond with each other.

From running upstairs to grab a clean nappy, to soothing the baby during long car journeys, your first child will have an active role to play in caring for your new child. Older children who read can make great little story tellers, which is a great thing for both siblings!

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #4: Your Older Child Will Be More Independent

With a longer age gap, your first child will be more independent. You won’t need to worry about changing two dirty bottoms throughout the day, because your first child will be able to use the toilet. He may also be able to get himself snacks, and play independently for limited amounts of time.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #5: They Won’t Fight Over The Same Toys

With a larger age gap, your children will have different interests and will play with different toys.

This may save you the hassle of acting as mediator, desperately negotiating turns with the most popular toys.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #6: It Will Spread Out The Cost Of Childcare

Childcare isn’t cheap, and having two children close together can leave some families struggling to afford to pay their nursery bills each month. Two children attending university at the same time can also put a strain on the family purse.

By having a larger age gap, you can spread out the costs associated with raising children, especially during those early (and expensive) years.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #7: You Won’t Have To Double Up

Your first child will already have outgrown his infant car seats, pram and playmat. You won’t need to fork out on doubling up on these items, and will instead simply be able to dust off the cobwebs and use them again.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #8: You Will Have Caught Up On Sleep

Unlike the parents of two under two, you will have caught up on your sleep by the time your next baby arrives. Your first child will be sleeping better, and you should be able to get enough rest during pregnancy.

Once the baby arrives, chances are it will only be the newborn keeping you up at night, so you won’t be running between bedrooms trying to soothe everyone.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #9: Sibling Rivalry Is Less Likely

Children born closer together in age are more likely to experience sibling rivalry. With a larger age gap, your children have different interests, and different focuses at anytime and are less likely to compete over things. An older child may see themselves as a mentor for the younger sibling, rather than as a competitor.

Why Age Gaps Between Children Are Awesome #10: Your Older Child Will Be More Attached

The longer a child remains an only child, the better attached he is to his parents. So the longer you wait before having a second baby, the longer your first child will have to develop a strong attachment to you.

Each family situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all perfect age gap. You must consider the individual needs of yourself, your partner and your existing children when deciding on when to have your next child. It’s also important to remember, that these things may not always be in our control. It could take longer than expected to conceive.

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35 comments

  1. I have 3 babies, 3 1/2 years between #1 & #2, also 3 1/2 #2 & #3. Works great for me. Love the fact (as mentioned in the article) that I have time for 1 on 1 with my youngest, with kinder and school picks up, we manage. I also had a little giggle, my eldest 2 love grabbing me a nappy and helping sooth baby in the car.

    1. Hi I am having my 3Rd child same age gap as urs. I’m so scared to have number 3 wondering if I have done the right thing.. All people teller that having 3 is so hard how have u found the gap???

  2. I’m 15, and there is a 10 year gap between me and my only sibling. I was 10 when my little brother was born. Sometimes people say that I’m almost like his second mum. The majority of the time, he’s adorable and lovely, but sometimes he can bug the ever living hell out of me. Trust me, no matter how large the gap is, prepare for sibling rivalry!

  3. A large age gap is not always good. I am the youngest and there is a 20 year gap between myself and my three other siblings. This meant that when I was born, my sisters were also having their babies. So what would be a time for grandma to spoil her grandbabies and give attention to her daughter and the infant, she was giving birth to an infant of her own. One sister had always been very independent and lived afar with her family. I always felt loved by her when she would visit. My other sister is another story. I always felt resented. As a child, I never could have articulated those feelings, I only knew that she would come over with my niece and nephew and I would feel bad. I would be nervous around her and never knew why. I never thought of as a sister, in the way most people think of their siblings. I knew her as that lady that we always have to make the house perfect for. Her resentment simmered for years until our father began to show his age and she started wanting to take the reigns in caring for him. My husband and I used to freely visit him every week at the house. All was well, then boom, she began hosting all of the holiday get togethers at her house and not inviting me. She even invited non family members! She one day decided to move in with dad after her husband lost his job, and informed me she was going to be dads caretaker and power of attorney. She began setting times in which we were allowed to visit him…etc. It all has become so ugly. My other siblings do not see it. They are all close in age and do not get why I am so upset. I feel alone now. My father is dying and I feel my only family is him and my co-workers, my husband and son, his long time girlfriend, some of my oldest clients. But blood family I am not in their eyes. I am lucky I have these other surrogate family in my life. As an adult, I get it now, even if I do not like it. I was the baby that should not have been. I am the one that took my sisters old bedroom in the family home, I am the one who had mom and dads attention when they still wanted their attention on their growing familys. I never asked to be born, yet here I am and it is a lonely place. I do not like it, but I get it. I would never have children in such a huge gap after being in my shoes

    1. I totally get it. I’m ten years older than my oldest sister and 18 years older than my youngest. I do not resent them, just the timing, but they took time with my parents away from me that I will never get back. Time I needed and missed. I was the accident child, born to teenagers, and I often feel like I am just getting in the way of my parents’ new nuclear families. It’s not nice being the outsider and now I have a son I am struggling to get that grandparent vibe off them.

  4. After having 2 children 18 months apart, I am finally at a point where I’ve recovered enough to consider a 3rd! We plan to start trying to conceive next year, so if all goes accordingly there will be 7 years between the first and third, and about 5 and a half years between the second and third. We are a bit worried about bonding because of how close in age the first two are, but we are part of a very large tight knit family where my kids are constantly playing with their cousins of all various ages so we are confident they will be fabulous! The idea of having that time with number 3 while the eldest are in the school sounds a lot better than the days when my eldest two were in nappies together!

  5. There are huge age gaps between me and my siblings! I am the middle child and my older brother is 22 now and my younger brother is 2 so there’s an 11 year gap between me and my younger brother as i am 13 nearly 14 and a 9 year gap between me and my older brother which makes a 20 year gap between my two brothers,lol. I mean i get people saying u wont be able to play together as much so u wont be as close but we are all close and i think the age gap is good because it meant that when each child was young they had time concentrated on them by my mom and dad also i have someone to look up to and ask for advice because he has done his a levels and uni and stuff.

  6. I am the youngest of 3 kids. Oldest was 17, next was 7 and then me. This was cruel and stuipd to have kids that far apart. My Mom was 36 my Dad 40. By the time I was a big kid amd teeny parents were to old to take me on vacations and they could not handle me having friends over. Both siblings have past and I have to care for both parents alone. Christmas sux always. Do not be cruel. Age difference with in reason.

  7. I think age gaps between children are great. They give kids time to enjoy their central position, to adjust to being independent when new baby comes and the older they are, the more assertive they get. I am the first of 3 girls, when my younger sister was born I was 9 and when my my youngest sister was born I was 17. Yes we didn’t grow together but it gave us time to get all the attention and resources needed and still does. I am 30, having my 1st baby. My 21 and 13 year old sisters are taking such good care of me, my mom and husband barely lift a finger

  8. This article is a joke! Right? I am the youngest of three children. My sisters are 10 and 14 years older. I grew up an only child pretty much. I would never recommend this much of a gap it only leads to family problems down the road. My sisters resent me for my parents having more money and things when I grew up. They say I was spoiled and had it easy. I feel that I have always had to be a grownup all my life. I have spent my life being a part of there lives seeing there kids grow up bc I had nieces and nephews when I was in high school. They on the other hand could care less about being apart of my families life bc according to them “where they are in life” they are to busy. I feel like my family has two families and I am the family that they would rather miss out on seeing.

    1. This is interesting. I’m considering having a third. I’m 33 and my eldest is 11, youngest 8 so would be similar age gap to your family by the time I had a baby.
      Was it really that bad?
      What sort of problems did you find?
      I wouldn’t want to cause problems for my existing children.

      1. I’m the oldest of 4 girls I’m 30 they are 27 22 and 21. We are best friends we fight and we make up. They are wonderful aunts to my son. My mother raised us to be close and we are.

      2. Did you have 3rd baby? I am same age now and children same age as yours and considering baby number 3 but quite shocked at the negative response !?

  9. My two kids were born 10years apart. As much as I didnt plan it, I am enjoying it more than anything in this world. My daughter (12years) is very much involved in taking care of her brother(2years). She actually started taking care of me during pregnancy and I was even amazed at that instant level of maturity.

  10. Every experience is different. I have three siblings and there was an eight year gap between. Two youngest. Sure mom asked us to help watch my younger brother but we were very close growing up and still have a great relationship. Do what you think is right for your family. If you have a bad Fe about the age gap it may not be a good idea for you. My kids are 10 and 8 and they want another sibling. God bless and good luck to all planning to expand their families.

  11. Thank you for writing this piece! We’ve been trying to conceive a second child for nearly 2 years and I’ve started to obsess about the widening age gap, the longer it takes. Our child is 4 and a half and starts school in September. If we’re lucky enough to have another, I can now focus on the positives of a wider gap between them. Thanks again! 😉

  12. Hi, I have three babies (girls)( 3 years, 22 months, 9 months) , it wasn’t my choice to have them so close like that but I did any way , I treat them as one, same time of sleeping, eating , playing and showering , but the thing I couldn’t control is jealousy between them and crying , now they are all related , they sleep together and feel each other, when some one wakes up they all do the same
    It’s hard to do cores with them but at least I get time for myself when they sleep

  13. Im the youngest of 5 children. The gap with my siblings is 11, 9 and 6 and the big gap did not help. I felt like i was growing up alone. When i was growing up my siblings were teenagers and did not wanted to play with me at all or spend time with me, but i do have to say that they were very protective. Now, many years later we get along great, but growing up was not fun for me. I had brothers and sisters but it was like if i was an only child. My siblings always complain that i got more toys when i was a child or that my parents were less severe with me.
    Now that i am a mom, we want our children to have 2 or 3 year gaps not more.
    I think that every family is different and everyone should do what they thinkis best for their family.

  14. There is a ten year gap between me and my baby brother and we are close as could be. My middle brother and I are two and a half years apart and we weren’t great friends until we were grown ups. I just found out we are expecting baby number two for me three for hubby. There will be an eleven year gap between my child and the baby and a sixteen year gap between his youngest and the baby. We are all excited.

  15. I am the youngest of 6 kids. Everyone is about a year apart and I am 10 years younger than the youngest. Although it was a big age gap (I was a surprise, obviously) it was really fun. The oldest is 16 years older than me and he always took good care of me, even though I sometimes resented it growing up. I had friends from school to play with and I would always play video games with a few of them. The oldest couple would let me spend the night it I wanted a cool place for a sleepover and were old enough to have money so they would buy me candy and things. It was almost like having grandparents, haha. I know not all siblings are so nice or get together so well, and we had our fair share of fighting (especially the ones closest in age to me), but I always had the best advice and someone to help me out along the way.

  16. My oldest is almost 9 and I’m pregnant with twins. There is no way I could have parented anyone but my oldest until he was about 5 with all the stress and doctor’s and neediness and not-making-ends-meet. Then I thought I couldn’t because I was too old and the age gap would be too much and I still didn’t have my life back in order because I had been homeschooling him until 3rd grade and didn’t have a career…. but now that I’m pregnant I feel he his very lucky. He will have someone that might help him out when he’s older and the twins will have a broader perspective on life… they might even be able to be with the elder sibling when the just want space from their close-in-age sibling. He would have been alone otherwise, even if their relationship is complicated, that’s better than alone.

  17. I am 11 years older than my younger siblings. I was like a second mommy to them and really enjoyed caring for them. When I had my son I didn’t feel even the slightest bit worried or lack of intuition because of all the practice in my teenage years. I love my brother and sister but they are in college and I am pregnant with mu second child, 8 years after my first. We are not on the same page right now and I believe they are more like only children in their attitudes but I know when they are older and ready to settle down we will become closer again. Every family is different and I don’t resent my parents at all for their youngest children, however it was hard to get their attention during the formative teenage years and probably led me to some crazy moments because I had a lit of extra freedom compared to most girls my age.

  18. My first son is 17 years of age and his little sister is 11 months!!!! The love that they have for each other is amazing and so beautiful to witness , she looks after him for everything. I only hope that it will be even better in the future.

    1. This is so refreshing to hear. I have a twelve year old son from my first marriage. Now my new partner of six years (he’s never been married, nor any children …except my son) and I would love to have a baby together, however, both our clocks are ticking, and I’ve been battling the pros and cons of adding a baby into our lives. I’m scared that my son will think I’m too caught up in our new addition, and want to go live with his dad more. My son is my world and I’m scared. Can I really balance both children… they would be so apart in age, would they ever really know and love one another…Could I possibly love another child as much as I love my son…I’ve got so many questions… will it take a lot longer to lose the weight, will I have a healthy baby being 37 years old, will I have enough energy…

      1. Even am very confused abt having second child. My son is 11 yrs old and he doesn’t want to have any brother or sister.

    2. That is amazing! I feel like I’m crazy thinking about having a third child. I went back to school, then wanted to settle in my career. And oops I’m 44 yrs old and I keep thinking about it! My kids are 3 yrs apart and the best of friends.. now! Lol. 17 year daughter and 20 year old son and they are open to the idea. I had c-sections with both of them so I’m scared. What do you think of this craziness??!

  19. Well, I haven’t got kids…but I am the oldest of four. With every kind of age gap imaginable! here goes… Just under two years between me and oldest brother, then four years from bro 1 to bro 2 (So 6 years between me and youngest bro) Then 15, yes, 15 years between me and baby sister!!! (13 years and 9 years between her and her two older two bro’s) We, the elder 3, born 85′, 87′ and 91…Then Sis was a millennium baby 🙂 Playing together and friendship wise, definitely the 2 year gap between me my first brother was best in the early, pre school years… BUT we also had moments when we pulled each others’ hair out. Although he had/has behaviour issues with EPIC temper tantrums due to autism and that definitely added to our occasional play issues, but generally we were/ are extremely close. Second brother was ADORABLE to me and never ever wound me up due to the 6 year age gap. But we played together less exclusively and often we all played together with myself and oldest brother just bossing him around, dressing him up as various animals, and generally using him as a play thing, rather than a play mate haha! (He was very sweet natured and biddable…) As we all got to school age however, things changed and we became a proper unit. I always regretted that we’d miss being in high school all together so I could protect my youngest brother as I did my oldest one. I do remember a brief stage where my brothers would get into doing ‘boys stuff’ together without me which made me jealous and desperate for a sister. Now my Sis DID finally arrive and is a whole different story. Loved her differently to my brothers and NOT in a negative way, but she was like my child, rather than my sibling, my feelings towards her were very much maternal. Same with oldest brother. But she and our younger brother do have a closer more sibling like dynamic. The plus points are: She was/is doted on and spoiled by all of us. Gets away with stuff we older ones NEVER would have! She and I in particular never have an argument, as there’s nothing for us to argue about LOL…! which is a rare nicety for sisters, I think. But there are some serious downsides: There are moments when the 3 of us are sharing memories, anecdotes and in-jokes about times when she never existed and cannot ever be a part of, which makes me feel horrible for her, almost like there have been two separate families….and It’s worse when we all do this with our Mum involved in the reminiscence saying how she ‘misses those day’s’… (Although we try and do it when she’s not around, but then sometimes she’ll ask, then look kind of sad and left out) interestingly, she say’s she hates the age gaps for those exact reasons, plus when she was a toddler/ younger kid, there were days we had all been entertaining/playing with her…then we older ones would go off to town shopping together, for coffee, or out at night drinking and she’d be left behind with mum… 🙁 often crying that she wished she was ‘a big girl’ and pressing her baby face at the window as we walked away …which obviously broke our hearts! When she was four, I left home! and though we had some brilliant times after the fact – she would spent one weekend in every the month at my flat, with me picking her up from infant school on Friday afternoon and mum collecting her Sunday evening – I have sometimes wished she’d been born sooner. She certainly does, saying all the perks of being a doted on baby are far outweighed by missing the cool, grown up, hang-outs…BUT, happily we are now 17, 26, 30 and 32 and the gaps are slowly disappearing! We all hang out All. The. Time. No one gets left out anymore. Last year I took her on a girly holiday to Greece for two weeks, and at 16 and 31… we got to know each other as adults for the first time. Though she still found it Crazy that when I was her age, leaving school, she was 1…! And naturally we all cannot wait until she turns 18!! 🙂 Now if I was doing kids at all, I think I’d aim for at least 3 years – 6/7 year age gaps…

  20. my brother and i are seven years apart. while the perks of being the youngest is great that wears off as you get older because you realize you miss a lot of things that other siblings have. Specifically, my brother and i are not close and will never be. My brother had issues growing up (doing drugs, drinking, skipping school) and although i never understood what was going on as a kid seeing my parents struggling to keep my brother in line was painful to watch. Years down to road when something serious happened to me that involved me being violated I told my brother and he said nothing me except, “oh, well.” He never stood up for me. Most of all i feel like he resents that i got the most attention. i wanted so bad to have a sibling who i can play and talk with because i was a terribly shy kid who didn’t make friends easily. My summers as a kid involved with nothing more than watching TV all day and not being able to go outside because “i’m a girl”. I’m now in my 30s i rarely see or talk to my brother. He’s like a stranger to me. No, i would never recommend having children that far apart. It is very lonely and the relationship is very different.

  21. I was 19 and my husband 22 when we became parents. After that we went back to full time education including grad school, which was difficult with a child, but we managed to complete it. Our daughter is 14 and we are expecting a baby this year. It is going to be almost 15 yers age difference. We didn’t really have a choice, nevertheless, I can’t help but feel selfish and guilty because I know that they will never be able to grow up together.
    However, my daughter is so excited and she is preparing the baby’s room for months. She is very close with me and my husband, and I don’t want it to change. I have told her so many times that she always feel free to come to us and speak about the smallest thing in this world that bothers her, no matter how busy we are. I will do everything to make both of them feel loved. Thank you for sharing your experiences and feelings…

  22. I am the youngest of 4 siblings, with an age gap of 13, 8, and 4 years. With the oldest one I have not that much of a relationship to be fair, we get along great and do some activities together from time to time, but I don’t really know him that much. After all, he went through his teenage years when I was barely a toddler, so we didn’t share any life experiences together.

    With my brother who is 4 years older than me, I got the whole sibling rivalry experience, everything was a competition, and we didn’t really get along great. There were fights over everything, and we tested our mother’s patience a lot, we couldn´t really be in the same room without having an argument over the most stupid things. We just started being civil towards each other well into our teenage years.

    But with my sister 8 years older, that’s the best relationship. She helped my mom change my diapers, witnessed my first steps, and was really involved in my toddler years, and she really loved it.
    I think a 6-8 year gap is really ideal, more than that is probably too much, and your kids are going to have a hard time bonding, and less than that is probably going to give you a lof of headaches.

    Then again, this is just based on my own personal experience (as all of the comments above)

  23. I have mixed feelings. I am the youngest of 5. My oldest brother and I are 19 years apart, the next brother 16 years apart, the next 12, then I am 4 years apart from my sister. So the oldest two were gone when I was born but I grew up with my sister and my youngest brother moved out when I was 9. My neice also came and moved into my parents house when she was 3 (I was 9 then also). So I definitely felt like a middle child but I never got to really know my brothers because of it. None of us really talk aside from my sister and I. Whenever my brothers would visit it was a big ordeal for me because I wasn’t close to them. The oldest would stay for a month or two in between tours in the Navy, and the next oldest I would babysit for sometimes so I knew them but I never really talked to them. I was always kind of just ‘there’. My youngest brothers wife also came from a big family with huge age gaps and they agreed that their children will be close in age because they were never close to their siblings and never got that bond. My cousins were the same way for me because they were all my brothers ages so we never talked. Now that I am older and in college I am starting to actually get to know and talk to them but it is still rare and somewhat distant. But as I said, I did have a closer relationship with my sister and my niece came to live with us when I was young so I still had that experience of having siblings, but it was confusing to have to explain she was my neice and not my sister. Having to call my mom ‘grandma’ all the time and constantly re-explaining the situation to people was frustrating. Though, I did get to experience what it would be like having a little sister. I guess it never really affected me except that it caused a big distance between us and we never got that close familial bond because we never truly got to know each other. But now that I am older and not just the little kid, hopefully that can change.

  24. I find it interesting that the majority of negative comments talk about feeling lonely and growing up as an only child. I am an only child, and I would love to have a sibling, of any age.

    Consequently, I have been told to wait two years before even trying for a second child following a traumatic birth resulting in a category 1 c-section. It is longer than I would have waited before, but I planned to have 3 or 4 children, now it looks like I will need to stop at 2 or go for adoption. But I am embracing the merits of having a larger age gap between siblings.

  25. My daughter is nine going on ten and I am now pregnant with my second. She is so so excited to be getting a baby brother or sister. I truly hope the gap doesn’t cause any problems. She seems too happy about it, though, for me to imagine such silliness.

  26. Absolutely loved this article, as my daughter is 5 and alot of people are putting pressure on us to have another. People dont know your circumstances, so i find it bizzare how people can interfere. With that being said, i am the youngest nd only girl of four kids, with exactly 3years between each sibling and i must say, we are all the best of friends, the brother closest to me in age always used to tease me growing up, but we grew out of that and we laugh abt it today, but honestly, all four of us have the best relationship with one another on different levels 🙂 great article.

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