Mind the (Sibling Age) Gap



My husband and I planned to have two children, and hoped they’d be between 2 and 3 years apart. But, let’s be honest, after my older daughter’s first birthday, bringing another baby into this world was the last thing on our minds. As her second birthday approached, adding a second child to our family seemed more exciting than overwhelming, and now our daughters are 2 years and 7 ½ months apart. At the beginning of August, my younger daughter turned one, and my older daughter will turn four in December. It seems the 2-3 year age gap is a common plan, and moms of one child often ask me how it’s going as they begin to plan for their second child.

For us, the biggest transition was that even though our 2 ½ year old suddenly seemed like such a big girl, she was still a baby. Within the first six months of bringing her little sister home, our “big girl” moved to a toddler bed, dropped her nap, gave up her pacifier, and potty trained. She also entered her first preschool program, but only 1-2 days a week, for 2 hours each day. I was overwhelmed as I tried to balance the attention my toddler wanted and needed with the baby’s around-the-clock needs and complete lack of schedule.

BUT, what a difference a year makes! The girls now eat a lot of the same foods at mealtimes, can take just one bath together, and go to sleep in the same room. When it’s time to play, baby girl is often entertained by her big sister, and vice versa. I’m not going to lie, I’m still overwhelmed, and we definitely still have our challenges: sharing, competing for my attention, and a whole lot of crying and whining. But, every now and then, the girls will happily play together, or share a sweet snuggle, and we remember why it was so important to us to raise siblings.

I also asked my FCMB co-contributors with two or more kids for the pros and cons of their age gaps. Of course, every family is different, but I received a lot of similar replies.

Under 3 years
These moms mostly agree that the early days were crazy! The smaller the age gap (under 2 years), the crazier it seems. Babies and toddlers are both needy, but with different needs, most times you just can’t make everyone happy. On the plus side, when your children are close in age, they make great playmates, and are likely to share similar interests, activities, and even friends.

3+ years
The biggest pro for these moms was the independence of their older children, including attending school. Siblings with larger age gaps do play together, but some times it’s hard to find activities that are of interest to both ages. Another con is keeping your baby on a schedule when you’re trying to keep up with your older child’s busy schedule. (Although, that last con is a problem in my house, too).

No matter the age gap, and whether it was planned or not, I think most moms (of two or more) will agree with me on how special it is to raise siblings and to watch their relationship grow!

What’s the age gap between your children? Comment below with your pros and cons!


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