Planning number two
Getting broody for a second? Here’s some food for thought.
According to clinical psychologist Monica Spiro, the professional literature on the topic is pretty unequivocal – between 18 months and 2 and a half years old is not a great time to get a new sibling, given the fact that a young toddler is still pretty needy and can’t verbalise his or her problems effectively yet.

So why do so many still choose to go this way?

Firstly, our parents’ generation was big on the two-year gap, so for lots of us, when we think of family, that is how it’s structured. If you don’t challenge that kind of presumption consciously, you can find yourself simply assimilating the idea into your own decision-making.

Then, for the control freaks among us, if you have already decided you want more than one child, there’s something very appealing about getting the second pregnancy and birth ‘done’ as soon as possible to keep the no-sleep ‘n nappy era to one vicious blast as opposed to a lingering lifestyle malaise.

There are also biological considerations – the fact that so many mothers are having their first children later means that there aren’t that many fertile years left to play with when planning another.

Whatever the reasons are for going into a speedy second pregnancy, here are some insights from real mothers who’ve recently found themselves with nappy bills larger than the monthly car repayment.

Making the decision

There is no right and wrong with this kind of decision, and anyone who says there is, is simply transposing their own life onto yours: never a useful exercise. But it does help to ask the right questions first:

  • Consider your first child’s personality. Is she demanding or pretty well contained? Does she already have aggression issues? How are her communication skills? It may be a good idea to wait until you are happy with the answers to these and similar questions.
  • Look at your support system. Does your family help out? Can you afford help? Is your partner a hands-on parent, willing to chip in with the chores? Did he help enough the first time around?
  • Don’t lose sight of what’s right for you. Too many mothers ignore their own emotional needs in the face of popular opinion – if your heart drops at the thought of another, respect that and leave it until you either feel better or have reconciled yourself to not having more children. Ignore what everyone else is saying - listen to yourself and your partner, consider the needs of your existing child or children... and you’ll make the right decision for you.

What do you think is the ideal gap between siblings?

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