What's best for your baby's health and yours is something that should be taken into consideration. Getting pregnant less than 18 months or more than 59 months after a previous birth puts you at a significantly higher risk of delivering prematurely or of having a low birth weight newborn. But, if you wait less than six months between pregnancies, it can mean a higher risk for uterine rupture if you are going for a vaginal birth after a cesarean, as well as placental problems and risk for anemia.
If your children are 2 years or less apart you will love the fact that you'll get all the hassles of infancy such as diapers, night waking, struggling with the stroller, over with at once. Your siblings will also have a close in age bond throughout their lives. It can be tough because you will be exhausted handling more than one child. Toddlers can also have difficulty coping with the huge disruption that a new baby brings. Be sure to have realistic expectations and remember to have one-on-one time with each child and you can make it all work.
For children that are 2 1/2 to 4 years apart you will love it if the older child is more independent and has the language skills to tell you how they are feeling instead of acting out. It can be tough, because getting back into infant mode can be hard. But, if you take advantage of a 3-4 year olds natural desire to be Mommy or Daddy's little helper then you can make it work for you. Let your older child be a proud big brother or sister. Also, try coordinating school hours for your older child so that they work with your schedule.
If your children 4+ years apart you'll love with an older child in school when the next arrives, you have the chance to savor babyhood again in a way parents with kids closer in age cannot. The big age difference can also minimize the competition factor because they need attention in such different ways. It can also be a financial advantage down the line - paying for one college education at a time. But, it isn't all good. The age difference might mean that your siblings won't be close until they are older and the older child might resent being a built in babysitter. To make it work try look for opportunities for your children to bond.
For more tips on planning for another child and other parenting tips, click here.
Kate Kelly & Erika Wortham