When Is the Best Time to Have a Second Baby?

The question of when is the best time to have a second baby is a good one and one that does not have a “one size fits all” answer. The idea of changing from three people to a bigger family really does have a big impact on your entire life from your work and financial goals to your life with your spouse and other child. However, there are a few questions that you should consider as you debate this issue. Read on to learn all the things you need to consider to make a better decision and how to help your first child to get by.

When Is the Best Time to Have a Second Baby?

1. What the Experts Say?

image001Most experts seem to agree that waiting at least 18 months to conceive is better for both the baby and the mother. A mother’s body needs to recover all the nutrients that a baby uses both in utero and during breastfeeding. Experts also believe that short or wide spacing of siblings may increase the chance of relationships between the siblings being better.

2. What the Research Says?

Studies show that pregnancies within 18 months of the first child may increase the chance of premature birth and lower weight newborns. In addition, at least one study shows that the chance of autism may be three times more likely if the second child is conceived within a year after the first child is born. Other studies show that if you wait more than five years between children, the risk of premature birth and low birth weight increases.

3. How Old Is Your Other Child (or Children)?

Based on the research, it is probably wise to wait until your first child is at least 18 months. The evidence about this question is less conclusive but many families believe that having an older child may give you the opportunity to talk to the child about the second pregnancy. In addition, you may want to consider how much work you will have to do if you have two children in diapers. However, having children too far apart may make them less able to entertain each other.

4. How Will Another Child Change Your Lifestyle?

A huge question to think about is how a second child will affect your lifestyle. Remember that an infant will mean that you will have to stop working for some period of time and you will be back to some period of time of sleep deprivation! Try to recall the amount of work a new baby needs and determine if you are ready for that work load. Already be prepared mentally and physically before making the big decision.

5. What's Your Financial Situation?

As you already know from your first child, it costs a lot to raise a child. If your income is relatively secure, finances may not be a big consideration, but most people should do the math and make sure you will have enough to raise a second child. Of course, if you wait until you can REALLY afford children, you may never have a second child.

6. How Old Are You?

As long as you are under 30 years of age, you can probably afford to space your children out to as many years as you are comfortable with. As you near 40, your fertility will begin to decrease and your chances of being able to conceive will decrease. In addition, the risks to the fetus also increase as your age goes up.

7. What does Your Partner Say?

The decision to have a second child should be one that you and your partner discuss and agree about. Be sure to discuss all the points above so that you are both aware of all the questions.

How to Help Your First Child Adjust

When you have made the decision to have a second baby, one of the tasks in front of you is to be sure you help your first child adjust to this change.

  • Be sure to involve the first child in your pregnancy and in decisions about his new sibling. For example, buy your first child a gift and have him help choose a gift for the new baby.
  • Pick out some colors for the baby’s room and let the older sibling make the final decision.
  • There are lots of good books about adjusting to the new family, begin reading those to the older sibling as soon as you know you are pregnant.
  • After the baby’s birth, be sure to set aside time for you and the older sibling to do something special.
  • Enlist the help of the older sibling in caring for the new baby.
  • It is not unusual for an older sibling’s behavior to regress for a period. Expect that and do not worry. These behaviors will typically resolve relatively quickly after the new baby is born.
  • Say that he or she will be the "big brother/sister" of the new baby, which can reinforce your older child's role in the family. Taking responsibility can make him/ her behaving more responsibly.
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