Once you’ve had a baby, there’s always the inevitable question: “When are you having another?” I got asked this question while pregnant with both my first two babies. (The answer clearly being, at that time, ‘not yet!’)
There are many different factors to consider when choosing when (if) to have another baby. So are you ready? How do you know when you are?
Among some of the traditional foodies I know, the “right” answer is “3 to 5 years.” Apparently, babies are healthiest when they are born with this spacing. It’s one consideration, one that we thought about. However, we didn’t think it was the only consideration. In case you’re curious, the reason for this spacing is that it allows for extended breastfeeding (at least two years per baby) as well as for the mother to rebuild her vitamin and mineral “reserves” for the next pregnancy. There’s a whole, complicated bunch of research surrounding this, and I know some moms who would never deviate from this spacing. That’s okay.
Sibling relationships are another big consideration. I love that my first two are under 18 months apart. Now that they’re a bit older — almost 3.5 and 2 — they play together so well most of the time. I worry about this new baby in the first few years because my older two are so close…I just keep thinking about them being 4.5, 3, and 1…or 5.5, 4, and 2. I’m sure the older two will want to play together and have more in common with each other than “the baby” at least for the first couple years. (Good thing I don’t plan to stop with #3, right? These are all things I think about when deciding when to have another though.)
It’s certainly possible to have close, wonderful sibling relationships no matter how close your kids are (from just 10 months apart to 10 years apart) but of course, the further they are, the longer it will take for them to develop that relationship. A 9-year-old and a baby don’t have that much in common. I know I’m going to get stories from people with all kinds of different siblings distances who tell me how amazing their relationship was.
How do you feel about another baby? When my kids start to hit 9 or 10 months and are crawling, standing, looking less like babies, I start to want another one. I’m very glad, this time, that I didn’t get pregnant until my son was 15 months, because he was a very difficult infant (never sleeping, always wanting to be held — until 13 months or so). That longing though, is sometimes what sparks families to choose to have another baby.
Can you take care of another? Do you have the time, energy, and finances? That last one is tricky, because there isn’t ever a ‘perfect’ financial time and there is usually a way to make it work, but if you absolutely don’t think you can afford another baby, maybe you don’t want to have another. I have several friends who have said “We need to stop after baby #x because we just don’t have the money for another.”
Do you have any health concerns? One thing my husband said was that we would keep going until we felt we were done…or, until we ran into serious health concerns. If I had a very difficult pregnancy, or we suffered infertility in the future…we would call it done, and possibly look into fostering or adoption. That may not be your answer, but it’s a scenario to consider.
Do you have any “life situations” that would change things? For example, if one person is changing jobs, if you’re moving, if someone’s going back to school, etc. In some cases it’s better to wait until things are settled before having another baby (and sometimes it doesn’t work out that way!).
Would you regret not having more? Most of our parents have said, a bit wistfully, “I wonder what it would have been like if I’d had one more…” They’re all past their childbearing years though (most are in their 60s). We do not want to have this regret. We have heard “you only regret the children you don’t have, not the children you do.” If we have no health or financial concerns and we feel we want another baby, then we will have one.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your partner to decide when and if to have another baby.
How did you choose when to have another?