So you’ve finally managed to settle into a rhythm with your first child and maybe even gotten around to introducing a second baby into your family.
Now that things are a bit easier and you’re on that parental high where things are a lot calmer you start asking yourself, “Should I have another baby?”
The question is not as easy to answer as you might think and it varies from person to person, but there are many factors to consider: how old/independent your current kids are, how long ago you had your last baby, how much free time you really have, whether you can go through another pregnancy, if it’s too late for you, etc.
Another rather important notion to consider is that a second child, or third child (or maybe even fourth or fifth) is a full-time responsibility.
Maybe you’ve forgotten about that fact now that you’ve been out of that period for a while, but it is a fact.
Your first time was arguably the hardest time you’ll ever have delivering a baby.
This isn’t to say that it won’t be just as hard the second time around or every other consecutive time thereafter, but you’ll have the experience and resolve to deal with it.
Something you may not have had when you first did this and didn’t know how strong motivator motherhood really was.
Us mamas can put up with quite a lot, but our kids might not be able to, and if you start family planning too fast without any real thought or consideration, all it’ll do is create a burden rather than a blossoming family love.
Trust me, I had the exact same thought process.
About a year after my daughter was born and all the fuss around motherhood and taking care of a new baby had calmed down, I wanted another so my firstborn wouldn’t be an only child.
Thankfully I had the common sense to ask my doctor before taking any drastic measures myself, and she advised me to wait at least until 18-20 months after my first pregnancy to start initiating a second pregnancy.
Well, your body (and your mommy brain) needs time to recover. It was a tumultuous time for it after all, riddled with a lot of pain, pills, and very unpleasant times.
All of that stress puts your body through a heck of a beating and, even though you might be feeling well at the time, you should still rest to make sure.
After all, there might be something inside of you that still hasn’t recovered.
Not only that, but consecutive pregnancies in a short amount of time can cause a whole host of problems.
Things like increasing the risk of infant and mother death, a lower birth weight than normal due to a lack of necessary nutrients, and an overall chance of the baby being delivered before the designated term which, again, can lead to a whole load of medical complications for your little one.
It’s better to be a little patient than take the chance and risk the health of a new family member just because you couldn’t wait a few more months.
But don’t think that wanting another baby is something bad.
You didn’t come to read this article just to be scolded.
It’s healthy to want a new baby and shake the family dynamic up a bit, but there are certain factors to consider besides your health and I’m here to make sure you’re aware of them.
The Age Gap And Its Effects
Seeing as I began this with age being the main factor, I figured I might as well start the advice section off in the same way.
You see, there are a variety of different periods you can wait between your last born child (so far) and your next one, though they all boil down to three categories: the sub 2-year period which I explained already, the 2-4 year period and the 5+ year period.
Each of them has its pros and cons.
The Sub 2-year period
This one was mostly covered in the introduction above, but there is still a bit more to say about it.
Apart from the health warnings, you may feel like you’re unable to provide enough care and attention to both kids at the same time.
Plus, you might feel overwhelmed by the duties of managing two kids so close to one another in age when neither of them have even gone through potty training.
Not to mention the fact that you won’t have time to be yourself again.
Both you and your partner will be so busy with two precious handfuls that you’ll be stuck inside the house more often than not.
Consider your mental health first and talk it over with your partner a few times so the idea of a new baby can simmer inside your head long enough to be certain this is what you want and that you think the two of you can handle it.
Speaking of which, if you do end up feeling overwhelmed, remember that your partner is there for you and they have the role of parent as well.
Remind them that despite you being a mom, they still have equal responsibility in raising your kids and that they love them just as much as they do you.
Now, it’s not all cons as siblings who are this close in age tend to respond to one another a lot better than those with bigger age gaps.
Plus you won’t have to bother getting a second set of baby gear as their sizes will comparably be the same (not to mention that buying in bulk is cheaper in the long run and you’ll almost never regret buying that much).
Despite being the option that poses the biggest health risk for both baby and mommy, it is also the option that is arguably the ‘cheapest’ of the bunch, simply because a lot of discounts tend to be offered when multiple kids are enrolled into daycare, camp, and even college later down the line.
It’s not just the baby items where you’ll save a buck or two (or a hundred).
That said, I’d still advise against this age gap due to the very real health risks and I’d opt for one of the alternatives.
The 2-4 Year Period
A lot of people call this The Golden Period for the next child in line if you’re planning on expanding your family.
Mostly because your previous child will be old enough to not need constant care and attention from your end and will be able to explore the house or the playground without your constant supervision.
They’ve picked up a few motor skills, they can convey basic needs when they need to now, and they don’t tend to fall over and hurt themselves (most of the time).
This mostly relates to the earlier period, but if we’re talking closer to 4, then they’re already capable of fully functioning without you regardless, playing ball in the backyard, climbing trees and whatnot.
It’s also a reasonable enough period to give you some time to relax and be yourself.
If you’re a working mom, you can finally get back to work and catch up on what you missed while you were away on maternity leave while the kids are at daycare or kindergarten.
You can get your head back in the game, enjoy some time with your partner, and be able to devote enough time to your previous child to make sure they won’t feel left out when their baby sister or brother arrives.
And, most jobs will be lenient enough to give you that maternity leave now that you’ve actually waited a bit, so you’ll be able to devote your time to your newest arrival and not worry whether you’re going to keep your place at work or not.
While yes, your older child might still get the odd pang of jealousy when they see you taking more care of their younger sibling than them, there are still plenty of ways around that.
Make sure to tell the baby how great their big brother/sister is and all the things that they can do, that way if the older child hears you, they’ll feel accomplished and loved when they see that you still notice all the things they do.
Even if that doesn’t work, don’t let them do anything too bad or something that they’ll regret.
Set aside some time to talk to them if they have a problem with you taking care of the younger child and explain to them that they too can play a role in that.
That they can be a mentor to their baby sibling and show them how to play with all the toys they previously played with.
Help them see that it’s not a curse, but a bond that should be cherished as there are no stronger ones out there.
Even a mother’s love cannot trump the love that siblings share for one another when they start finding common ground.
I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times my two little rascals covered up for the others’ mess despite them fighting most of the time, although I expected no less since they act much like me and my brother did back when we were kids.
We were born a bit further apart though.
As someone with personal experience with this age gap, I can say that it has definitely given me more time to think and go back to enjoying myself, living for me again instead of living for others.
The welcome rest allowed me to get back into my own skin and feel a lot better about adding the fourth family member, making it a less bothersome time for me later.
It gets even better if you’ve managed to save some of your older child’s baby clothes, but only if they’re of the same gender.
I mean, it doesn’t matter to the baby too much, but you can at least opt for some more gender neutral colors, although that’s a personal preference.
As long as it’s snug and comfy, your baby won’t be bothered too much about it.
This way, you still get to save some money without losing out on comfort through shifty “budget” gear or if you’re struggling with your finances after finalizing your previous child’s needs.
The 5+ year period
You know, how the 2-4 year period was the golden one?
Well this one comes in at a close second for a few reasons.
If you’re thinking “Should I have another baby even though so much time has passed”, trust me, it’s never too late.
This big of a gap has’ great benefits too, mind you. You and your partner get a lot more time to yourself and your child gets to enjoy your undivided attention for a good amount of time.
This way they might feel less robbed of their time in the spotlight than if you had waited less and they might even be willing to pitch in and assist with their baby sibling without the need for any buttering up.
Sure, they might still get a bit pouty because they are no longer the main star and they have to learn how to share their time in the sun with their baby brother or sister, but now that they’re a bit more mature, they’ll understand.
That said, you should still reward them with something if they help you out (even if they don’t, you should still show them that you care) by letting them get something they’ve always wanted or simply letting them have a longer curfew.
Yes, it might sound like you’re spoiling them, but they were used to having you around 24/7 most of the time, so they need some sort of bandage to help them transition into not being the only child anymore.
Personally, I’d suggest talking to them about it before the second baby is even born, so you can set the foundation for them and help them understand what’s about to happen.
Treat them with the respect they deserve – not like they’re young kids, even though they are.
This means no cabbage patches, no storks, no excessive sugar coating.
You don’t have to tell them where babies come from, but you’ll have to explain that they will soon have some responsibility and that you won’t be able to devote all of your free time to them.
Tell them the family is expanding and that means that you’ll be busy taking care of the baby’s needs more often than not, but that you’ll still be there for them even if it may seem otherwise.
Your partner can also provide them with the attention they need and take them to camp, ballet practice, baseball or whatever activity your first child decided to take up.
Try to work it out with your partner to take shifts between the two kids, so they can get an equal-ish amount of love still.
But again, you probably won’t need to go through too much trouble.
Your older child will more than likely be willing to help you around the house if you conveyed the point above well, help ease your burdens, and they’ll be there for both you and the baby in their own special way.
Again, I can’t really speak from personal experience, but according to my own parents, my brother was that way.
He was 6 years older than me and when I came to this world, he never stopped doting on me and helping mom get all the stuff she needed to take care of me, even going so far as to put me to bed.
Sure he was a prankster, and that continued throughout my childhood, but it was just him being playful.
He’d always be there for me, making sure I was happy.
He didn’t care that he wasn’t the one getting all of the attention anymore, he wanted to make sure his baby sister was okay.
Still does too, even if sometimes he’s the cause of something that may have gone overboard.
The other problem you might find if you’ve waited too long to try for your second baby, is that you may have already given away all of the clothes that had started clogging your wardrobes and drawers up as well as the toys, the strollers, and the baby gear – so you might need to re-buy or borrow everything.
Plus, you may have forgotten what it was like with a new baby, so you might have to relearn some things all over again.
Though, let’s be honest, it’s just like riding a bike.
Waiting Too Long
An aspect that plays a rather important role in this dilemma is your very own biological clock.
What if you’ve waited too long? What if you’re too old to have a baby now (nobody knows about your actual age, don’t worry)?
Your menstrual cycles do have an end, as sad as it may seem.
While yes, it does take a while to reach that age, don’t dwell on the question of “Should I have another baby?” for too long, otherwise it might be too late.
If you’re still having problems with your decision, try weighing the number of children that you want to have against the amount of sleepless nights you’re willing to put up with yet again.
It’s not a sin either way, it’s your body and your choice.
Others can advise you, but ultimately, it’s up to you – I just hope you make the decision that is right for you.
The final aspect to consider, but certainly not an unimportant one, is whether or not you have the budget to even raise another baby.
Many households make the mistake of ignoring this aspect and they decide to have a big family only for that decision to bite them on the butt later when they experience bad times and poverty strikes.
That’s why you see many poor families that have a lot of kids. It’s an error in judgment.
As sad as it may seem, love alone cannot solve all of our problems. The world is like it is and money is a factor when determining if your child will have a decent upbringing.
So please don’t rush into things.
Normally I’d say listen to your heart, but let your brain in on the discussion a little bit when it comes to important matters like these.
All in all, the idea of having a second kid or more is always a matter of discussion between you and your partner.
There are a lot of factors to consider, whether they concern your mental and physical health, the health of your child, your financial status, and if you can even sustain another child, all are equally relevant.
It’s up to you to decide which route is the best one for you and I’m here to hopefully help guide you to the right decisions on your path to becoming an even greater mom than you already are.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. “2015 expenditures on children by families.” Updated January 9, 2017.
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