When is the right time to have a second child?
Read on to know what to consider before planning for a second child
“So when are you having the second child?” my mum had asked me as she fondly looked at my 18-month-old playing with his toy dinosaur. “Let me breathe, maa,” I replied, with a hint of annoyance. But she wouldn’t give up. “Look at him, playing all alone. Doesn’t he need a playmate? This is the right time.” I changed the topic, but my mum had successfully dug up the question my mind had been trying to ignore for a long time. Was I really ready for a another baby?
Wondering when to have the second child can sometimes be harder than deciding when to have the first one. Though you may definitely be confident about your baby handling abilities second time around, there are many more things to be taken into account before adding another member to your family. Your age, financial situation, your body and help available at home are some important factors that need to influence your decision.
While every ‘well-meaning’ person may have their own advice about when to have another little one, having baby no. 2 is finally entirely your decision as a couple.
When to have a second child?
There are both pros and cons of having children close together or years apart. Some couples have two babies, one after another to ‘finish’ having babies at one go, while some others wait till the first child is big enough to be independent. Here’s what real mums had to say about spacing between children.
“We had decided we want two kids, but I had my first one only at the age of 34. We knew the risks of pregnancy after 35 so when my son was six months old, we got pregnant with my daughter. We’re glad we did it as they are growing together and will outgrow their diapers together, I hope.” – Jiah Shah (name changed), Hyderabad.
“My husband wanted one child, but I wanted two as I know how much fun it is to share with a sibling who’s close to your age. Ananya was just 11-months-old when I conceived due to contraception failure. We were at shock first, but I couldn’t be happier as I don’t want to go through sleepless nights again.” – Jyoti Kadam (name changed), Mumbai.
Here are the highs and lows of having babies back-to-back:
- Having your children close together means they will most likely be best buddies and playmates as they will literally be on the same page of development (when the younger one is old enough to play that is).
- The basics of looking after a newborn (breastfeeding, swaddling, bathing, changing a diaper etc.) will still be fresh in your mind.
- Your older child’s toys, books, clothes etc. will still probably be appropriate for and usable by the little one.
- Since both the siblings are young, they may both want your attention at the same time. This also means crying, fighting or tantrums at the same time.
- Since both will be dependent on an adult for everything, you may find that you are feeding, changing, bathing all day.
- You may feel exhausted after attending to both of them and may have less ‘me-time.’
The spaced out siblings
“I am an only child and have grown up all alone watching other kids grow up with siblings. I really wanted someone who could stand up for me, so somewhere in my mind I had always wanted two kids. I wanted to get pregnant when my elder one was 2.5, but my doctors felt I wasn’t physically fit. I feel 3-3.5 years is an ideal age gap as you are not overwhelmed with baby duties.” – Juie Kale, Navi Mumbai.
“It was the hormones. The elder one was in such a cute phase at 3 years that I thought, ‘wow, let’s make another one of those.’ I’m also a sucker for babies.” – Shweta Sankhla, Mumbai.
What are the pros and cons of having children with 3-4 years gap? Read on
- Your elder one will be independent to some extent, so you are not bogged down with doing all his tasks.
- You were dealing with a baby not so long ago so caring for the newborn will be easier.
- Since the gap is not much, the children will not have completely different interests.
- Your elder one will suddenly realise the loss of his exclusive status and may become jealous and withdrawn.
- If your elder one is boisterous, you may not be able to successfully explain the fuss around the baby as he may not have the reasoning ability to do so.
Siblings after a long hiatus
“I always wanted to develop a caring and sharing attitude in my kids and hence wanted two kids. But I wanted to enjoy my first-born properly before having the second. So I waited till my daughter was 6 before trying for another baby. Handling two small kids is also tough.” – Sonia Sabherawal, Navi Mumbai.
“My elder daughter Pari had her own schedule and set of friends after she turned 7. She would rarely come up and cuddle, something I really missed. I also missed nursing a newborn. So when she was 9, I thought, why not have another? Pari was also thrilled and takes care of Pihu like a doll.” – Gunjan Sharma (name changed), Delhi.
- Your first-born will be old enough to do many more things independently, giving you more time to focus on the little one.
- Your first child may be old and responsible enough to help you out with simple tasks related to looking after the baby.
- While your older child is at school, you’ll get plenty of time to bond with your little one.
- You’ll probably be more confident in handling your youngest child as you would have matured considerably as a parent.
- Though there is the possibility that your first-born will be jealous of the little one, he may have his own avenues for distraction and may also have a higher understanding ability. So he may depend a little less on you for attention.
- You may have to give yourself a refresher course in the art of looking after a newborn.
- Since the elder and younger child may not have similar interests due to the age gap, you cannot do family activities together.
- If the children are spaced considerably, your own age may tire you out when you chase after your little one.
Continue reading to know what else you need to consider before having a second child.
Is your age optimal?
Unfortunately, your reproductive health depends on your biological clock. If you’re above the age of 35 and want more than one child, then perhaps you might not have the luxury of spacing your kids out with a 3 or 4 year gap.
However, if you are under 35 and don’t have any health issues, that may make conceiving a 2nd child difficult, then you probably could be a bit more flexible about when you want to have another baby.
Do you and your partner agree?
You may want your child to have a sibling, but is your partner ready too? Having another child will take a toll on your relationship as a couple as well. While it may be difficult in certain situations to settle your differences, it’s best to talk about them and come to a mutual agreement.
How is your financial situation?
Children are expensive, there’s no doubt about it. And having a second child means double the cost of everything—from food, toys and clothes to childcare and education.
Before you decide that you are ready for another baby, do also consider your financial situation. If you are a working mum, you may find it harder to keep up with full-time or part-time work once child no. 2 is in picture. Ask yourself, can you afford to stop work if you decide that is best for your family?
Do you have enough help at hand?
If another family member is taking care of the first born, their opinion will matter too. Also, If you plan to continue working after the second child as well, who will take care of both the kids? Are you planning to hire a nanny or put your child in daycare? It’s advisable to get plausible solutions to these issues, before you start planning for your second one.
Is your body back?
You may feel like having a second child close to the heels of the first one, but your body needs to be healthy enough to take on the strain of another pregnancy and childbirth. Externally, your body may appear fine but do consult your doctor before planning a second pregnancy, specially if you had complications with your first one.
Adding another member to the family may be just be the thing you were dreaming of to paint that complete, happy family picture. So if your heart wishes for the pitter-patter of another pair of feet in the house, you may already be ready for baby number two. As for me, I conceived by the time my first-born cut his second birthday cake.
References: Babycenter, theAsianparent
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