Small age gap between children: good idea or not?

After a study reveals the optimum time to get pregnant again after giving birth, mums share the positives and negatives of having 2 or more children who are very close in age

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A Canadian study of 150,000 births recently revealed that its ideal to wait 12 to 18 months before getting pregnant again, after giving birth, to avoid complications.

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The research, by the University of Columbia and Harvard’s Public Health School, and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, says waiting reduces the risk of premature births, smaller babies, and even infant/mum mortality.

This lines up nicely with the World Health Organisation’s advice, that says you should wait 18 months before getting pregnant again.

That’s the official guidance, HOWEVER we know that sometimes, some parents want children really close in age, and decide to get pregnant sooner.

There are plenty of us who don’t exactly plan the age gap between our children, mind – Mother Nature can be a bit uncooperative at times!

Of course, there are more ways than pregnancy to have a sibling: you could adopt. And with a twin or triplet pregnancy, you don’t get any say at all in age gap between your little ones ?

What’s it really like to have a small age gap between your children?

Is it exhausting (2 or more tinies making double – or triple – the work)? Or easier (because the nearer they are in age, the more likely it is they’ll enjoy playing with/doing the same things)?

But, forewarned being forearmed and all, what are the actual realities of having, say, 2 kids under 2? We asked those of you who’d been there to to share the pros and cons on our Facebook page.

“There’s just under 2 years between all 4 of mine: they’re 6, 4, 3 and 4 months,” says Jess M.

“The positives are that they will go through school together, they play nicely together. It’s always busy here. They have a great bedtime routine: we are probably more organised now there are 4 than when there were 3!

“Negatives? It can be exhausting when they argue, don’t want to be nice or all have an off day all on the same day – and compromising [with things like] birthday parties of friends when they’re on the same day.”

That’s something Corinna Q can certainly identify with.

“There are 2 minutes between my first 2 (twins) and 3 years 4 months between them and their younger brother,” she says. “I find the competition is rife between my twin girls. Best friends one minute and killing each other the next!”

And Lara L, whose older boys are barely a year apart, says the same – although the sibling clashes didn’t come along till a bit later for her.

“The first few years were great,” she says. “They adored each other and entertained one another. However, the eldest went to school and the younger one never forgave him!

“Some days they get on great; other days, they’re monstrous together (8 and 9 now).”

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For Leanne B, whose children are 20 months apart, it was hard having to focus on a new baby when her oldest was still so small.

 “A negative was having to adjust to the needs of 2 young children and it made me feel like I was pushing my eldest to one side,”  she says.

“Also, having to explain to him that he has to be gentle because he didn’t know.

“Positives? There are many. Especially now the youngest is 10 months old and my eldest is starting to play more with him (as well as taking his toys off him

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?). I wouldn’t do it any differently even if I could.”

For Karen G, it was tough at the start but worth it later on. “I have twins,” she says. “It has been logistically very hard at times.

“There are certain things I just couldn’t do with 2 babies on my own, and places where I always needed help.

“But they are nearly 2 and a half now, and life is so much easier. They have always played lovely together and entertained each other.

“And they are at the same stage and interested in the same things all the time. They are just amazing to watch. I’d do it all again: it has been perfect.”

Jos C agrees. “There’s 2 years and 15 days between mine,” she says. “It was very hard in the first 2 years, until the youngest really started talking. But surprisingly not as hard as I expected now that they are teenagers. They really support each other and get on amazingly well now.”

And finally, this from Vicky C: “There’s 13 months exactly between my 2 girls. They’re now 7 and 5. They’re very close, and play together nicely now but yes, as siblings do, they do fight/fall out.

“It was hard work when my 2nd came along but, as they grow up, it is becoming easier.

“I’m happy with the gap as I wanted them to be close together and they have a instant playmate, too.”

Image: Getty Images

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