Ask Design Mom: Spacing Kids

Hi Gabrielle! Could you please give me some advice? My baby is turning 3 this year and I’m thinking about getting pregnant again. How did you decide to space your kids? How do you know it’s time to have another one or if you’re done? I appreciate your thoughts. — Thanks, Jeannie.


Wow. That’s a big question, Jeannie! But I’m game. As far as spacing goes, in my head, I always thought I’d have babies about two years apart until I was done. But that never happened. Here’s what did happen:

Ralph and Maude are 18 months apart.
Maude and Olive are 2 1/2 years apart.
Olive and Oscar are 3 1/2 years apart.
Oscar and Betty are 16 months apart.
Betty and June are 4 years apart.

It turns out, not everyone has control of when and if they’ll conceive (or adopt). Me included. So first off, even if you make a plan, know that you may or may not be able to stick with it. And that it will all work out either way.


Here are my thoughts on what I experienced. Sixteen months apart was definitely the trickiest. It’s not twins, but it’s still two babies. I won’t lie, it can be rough. But the nice thing is, if you have a hard time enjoying a certain stage — say the diaper years, or the preschool phase —  you move on to the next part of life really fast. Having kids close in age is efficient! Another nice thing is a built in playmate. Oscar and Betty have been inseparable for years. I’m sure that will change at some point, but it’s been wonderful as we’ve moved from New York to Colorado to France.


In contrast, 4 years apart was by far the easiest on me as a mother. By the time June was born, Betty could get herself dressed, get herself a snack and entertain herself pretty well. She was old enough to be comfortable at preschool and was good company when I was hanging out nursing Baby June — Betty was even old enough to be able to get me a drink of water. : ) But four years is a lot. Two years in and Betty and June definitely don’t have a buddy relationship. It’s much more of a big sister/baby sister thing. Who knows if they’ll ever be close friends. I hope so. But who knows?

And really, some of this is just luck of the draw. I’m sure we all know plenty of siblings who are close in age, but not close emotionally. Or the opposite. In our family, Ralph and Olive are 4 years apart but they’ve turned out to be great friends. They really enjoy hanging out together! So it seems like sibling spacing is really one of those no one-can-predict sort of things.


My advice: listen to those instincts of yours. If you feel like you would be completely overwhelmed to find yourself morning sick or caring for a newborn, perhaps it’s still time to wait. On the other hand, if you’re obsessed with babies and find yourself staring dreamily at maternity clothes, maybe it’s time for the next baby. And for those of you who pray (I’m one of you), this is the perfect sort of thing to pray about.


I’ll end with the “how do you know when you’re done” part. I’ve probably had this exact conversation with at least 100 women — and some men too! People approach the decision so differently. We knew we were done at 6. Earlier in our marriage, I might have guessed that we’d have 7 or 8 or even 9. But by the time we actually got to 6 we knew it was enough. Six just felt like our max.

But again, everyone approaches it differently. In Nie Nie’s book, she mentioned that she purchased a kitchen table that would seat 8 people — and she intended to fill it. Others assume they’ll have a certain number of children but then find they can’t conceive again after the first baby. Or they can’t conceive at all. Some people have a plan from the beginning, others kind of wing it and see what happens. And still others find themselves on the adoption trail and are bound by budgets and other people’s decisions. It’s tricky stuff!


Dear Readers, I know you have lots of great experience in this area. Please share! How did you decide to space your kids? When/how did you know you were done growing your family? How close in age are you to your own brothers and sisters?

P.S. — Want more? Here’s an earlier related post called Having Another Child.


133 thoughts on “Ask Design Mom: Spacing Kids”

  1. I wonder if it’s a sign that this post is up? I thought we were done with our 2 – a boy 6 (almost 7) and a girl 4. We even just sold our minivan! But we keep tossing the idea around about having another, and I am surprised to find myself actually thinking about having another!
    I was hesitant, because my daughter will be 5 if we go ahead, and that will be a big gap between the first 2 and the last one. But maybe it won’t be so overwhelming, this time, since I won’t be chasing around a toddler.
    Thanks for this post!!

  2. I’ve found that the best thing we, as parents, can do for our kids (both current and *future*) is find peace with what we have and make peace with whatever comes our way.

  3. There are three girls in my family: the oldest (who has a different mother but same father as myself and other sister) is 15 years older than I am, and I am the youngest. The middle sister is 21 months older than me. Growing up, I really did not have a relationship with my eldest sister as she was off to university by the time I was 5. My middle sister and I played together when we were younger, but into our teenage years we grew apart; she really did not enjoy have her little sister so close in age, and did not appreciate me tagging along.

    1. (I hit submit to soon)

      I wanted to add than now, my eldest sister and I are really good friends. We talk all the time, and I have a close relationship with her son (my first nephew). While my middle sister and I have regained our friendship, some. Though she admits that her children will NOT be less than 3 years apart – her first child is now 18 months old.

  4. we’re expecting our first in a couple months and we both agree that two is definitely not enough for us. three or four would be ideal. we have also had a conversation about what if we ever have trouble conceiving and agreed to sign up for adoption if that happens, rather than undergo years of fertility treatment. after talking about adoption a bit, we now want to adopt regardless of how many biological children we have.

    as for age difference, that issue has been on my mind a lot lately. my brother and i are 4,5 years apart, and while it was great in terms of me getting used to the new baby, growing up we were always developmentally out of synch. when i started school he was a baby, when i was in puberty he was a kid, when he was in puberty i was all grown up… we had very few shared friends and interests, but once he left puberty we suddenly just clicked. now we’re both in our twenties and we’re super close. just like that everything worked itself out. i hope my kids will be closer in age, but seeing how well it worked out for me and my brother i’m not too worried. i think the spacing shouldn’t only depend on us as parents but also on the older kid/kids. they need to be ready too (or too young to really notice :)

  5. I love this topic! I’m pregnant with our second right now, due in October. Little Man will be four in December. When we first had him, we thought we wanted our kids two, two and a half years apart. Then the time came to start trying to achieve that spacing, and I was terrified! We started trying last spring, got pregnant in September, and were thrilled with a June due date. That would have been exactly three and a half years apart. Then I miscarried, spent two months with complications, and became unexpectedly pregnant in January. We were supposed to wait a month before trying again, but no one apparently told my uterus that!

    As for being done, we’re just not sure. We think we don’t want a herd (yours is precious, but I don’t think I have the patience for it!), but I’m waiting for after Pookie’s born to decide. I was so overwhelmed when my son was born, as I was 22 and he was very very unplanned, but I also felt very strongly that we weren’t complete. Someone was missing from our family. I’m feeling so excited about this pregnancy, but I just don’t know yet. We figure we’ll play it by ear. I thiiink maybe that if we have a third, I’d like the third to be closer in age than Jamey and Pookie will be. I’m not sure how close, but I want to take the time to savor Pookie’s babyhood.

    My sister and I are four and a half years apart, and that feels too far. We hated each other as kids, especially because I was super used to being an only child when she was born. Now that we’re older, we’re friends, but I’m not sure we would have ever been super close; we’re just incredibly different people. My husband has two older sisters. They’re 15 months apart and still hate each other. He’s ten and a half years younger than his oldest sister, and both of his sisters adored him from the start.

  6. I’m always in awe of the wonderful comments and positive vibes which radiate from your blog and it’s readers.

    We started out with a blank canvas and were blessed with a beautiful boy who turns ten next month, a big hearted girl who is eight, a cheeky four year old chap and an adorable bundle of love who is nine months old. We would have loved to have had our kids closer together in age but the first two came along easy and when we found we could not get pregnant again we had to become more scientific about the whole process. This time was extremely challenging and my heart goes out to anyone going through this today. Sometimes our plans are taken, put on a spin cycle and handed back to us all jumbled up, but they are still our plans and our dreams. Four years later we were blessed with a third child and a following three and a half years later our wee fourth child came into our lives.

    I am thrilled each day just watching how my kids all interact and grow together. Obviously some days are rough and they have their differences but my heart is fit to burst when I look at the gifts we are blessed with. Neither my husband or I could have been prepared for the adventure we started thirteen years ago and who knows where it will take us. Parenthood is a wonderful journey and Motherhood totally rocks!!

  7. This is fascinating – both your thoughts and the comments. I’m thinking about this quite a lot at the moment. We have one 6 month old and definitely want more if we are lucky enough to have them — and that’s something that plays on my mind; a lot of people I know have / are struggling with infertility or taking years to conceive. I know that just because we were lucky enough to conceive basically the first time we “weren’t not trying”, it might not be the same another time…

    Plus, my big sis is just 15 months older than me and – after a fairly rough birth with my son – my Mum has strongly urged me to leave more of a gap than she did. Hmm.

    In relationship terms though, throughout later childhood I actually had a closer and easier relationship with my 3yrs younger sister than the 15mth older one. Temperament may be more of a factor than age? But as adults we are, happily, all 3 very close!

  8. My first two are almost 3 years apart and we loved that spacing–my older one was sleeping through the night, off to preschool, potty trained, and in a big-boy bed by the time his little brother arrived. Fast forward several years though, and they are still close enough in age where they are the best of friends. For many years, we thought we were probably done, but could never completely close the door on it. A year ago we gave ourselves the summer to get pregnant and it happened the first time! So the difference between him and big brother is 4.5 years and 7 years between oldest and youngest but I also love that spacing. My two older boys play while I’m tending to the baby, but each older boy is also just totally smitten with the baby brother and very helpful too. But now, I definitely think I’m done.

  9. so hard! before we had kids we felt 5 was our number but didnt want to focus on it because you never know what will happen… now i have 4 and we are done but boy do I sometimes wonder about that 5th one! I just tell my husband he is my 5th child ;)

    alot of my friends have had the four kids close in age by the time they are 30. A bunch of them have had a 4-5 year gap and gone back for that fifth child!! gah! sometimes I think should I just do it now at 33 instead of waiting till 35 like they all have ;)

    my spacings are 22 months, 3 years and 3 years between four girls. I found two close were enough (and those two arent close! they are so different and like to fight and be impatient with eachother!) before I had kids I saw my sister in law have 3 under 3 and i just did not want that.. her life seemed so crazy, yet it did seem that they all grew up suddenly bam! all together

    As my older girls are heading towards tweens I have really felt that it is time to stop having babies and time to focus on the older ones. I sometimes feel sad that I should have more kids cause 4 doesnt seem that big, I wanna be a good example of a big family, we are pretty happy relax, why not have more etc, I seem to have alright pregnancies (have had one emergency caesar though) but then I wonder if that is just LDS guilt and that perhaps it will never go away no matter how many kids I have (not in a bad way, but big families are kinda a thing for us) because I have also really felt its time to put the baby stuff away and time to focus on being a great family that can just get up and leave, camp, ride bikes, focus on teenage persuits etc.

    needless to say very tough subject!

  10. My two kids are exactly 6 years and 6 days apart. We were married 11 years before we decided to have kids. In that time, I was able to figure out what I wanted to do as a profession and get my masters degree. After my daughter was born, I always said I wanted her to be old enough to help me out with any subsequent kids. I didn’t want the stress of two babies in diapers at the same time. I had planned for them to be closer in age but we had trouble getting pregnant after her. Hence the 6 year separation. Now that she is 8 and he is 2, I don’t think I would change their spacing. She is so sweet with him, plays with him and they are very close. We decided ahead of time that we only wanted two kids. We lucked out in having one of each though if we hadn’t, we would have probably had a third. We have talked on and off about having a third, but my son is very challenging (in a good way) and I think we are done. :)

  11. In my 20s I wanted a dozen babies! I had my first at 24, but then found myself single. In my 30s I was still single and thought that half a dozen would be good. Then I met and fell in love at 38, after years of trying we had our first baby in December 2011. I feel so lucky to have two amazing children, do I dream of more? Every day even though bub is only 5months old.

    So my two are 19 years apart. Are they close? More than I thought, my eldest moved back home to be with her brother. Will they ever be playmates? No. But bub lights up around his big sister and she with him. It is true love between them.

    My dream would have been to have lots of babies about two years apart, instead I have two babies 19 years apart…. But I truly feel lucky with my amazing children.

    For anyone else… I say go with what your heart…and sometimes your womb tells you

  12. Like Design Mom’s, our children were spaced willy nilly by nature. We are expecting our 4th. Un-expectantly, our oldest and youngest often play wonderfully together (7 years apart), so planning the differences in age is not a predictor of of choosing to space best for play reasons. The two spaced 3/12 years apart were ideal for me. I had a time of catching up on rest, a little time of independence while the children played well on their own, and all were able to shoulder much of their own primary care (brushing teeth, dressing) themselves. Also know that the second is easier than the first. It just is. That first time around, there was EVERYTHING to learn. This next time around you only have to do differently what you got wrong the first time. -heather

  13. We have five kiddos, one lone boy and 4 girls. The longest stretch between is 3 years and the shortest is 14 months (for numbers 3 and 4). 14 months would have been really hard if not for the personality of 3. She was a calm, sweet blessing and crazily old beyond her years.
    We were done. We were so done– four years done. And then apparently we are not. This has been a matter of faith– faith that my broken down old body can do this one more time; faith that everything will be alright; and the faith that my husband has in my ramblings about this little blond boy who keeps following me around in my head.

  14. Totally off topic… Just loved all the darling photographs in this post!!!
    On topic… For me it wasn’t so much the spacing that mattered our closest are 13 months apart and furthest are about 23 months… Closest was the easiest and the hardest – like twins but one is mobile… What counted for me was that I never wanted to get back into sleeping through the night and out of diapers and then have to get back into it… We wanted a heap of kids all at once… Blessed we were!!!

  15. My siblings are all two years apart, except for me. My closest brother is years older than I am, and the rest are even older. I felt like an only child most of the time. Most of my siblings were out of the house before I even left elementary school. I’ve been really cautious to not let too much time go by in between my kids. I think two years apart is a good length. It makes for a slightly crazier mama, but the kids have fun playing with each other.

  16. My kids were a little less than 16 months apart. We lived overseas at the time and my husband traveled a lot. Baby Bunching was a challenge and it wasn’t until my youngest was 3 that I felt I could think about another one. For almost 3 years we’ve talked about having another and after a few failed attempts have decided this might be what we were meant to have. We have two amazing kids and a very full life and I feel like we have just the right number . . . for us.

  17. Great advice about the best laid plans…we thought we’d have three, maybe four, but definitely three but things didn’t work out that way…many miscarriages and many attempts (with the help of science and some good luck) and five years later we are proud parents of two….and I can’t imagine our family being anything different.

  18. I love this post! I have two boys who are exactly 2.5 years apart (5 and 2.5). We are expecting a third child (apparently a girl) in late August, which will make her almost 3 years younger than my younger son and almost 5.5 years younger than my older son. Our first was a complete surprise conceived while I was on the pill during some international travel. Because of that we had no idea how long it might take to conceive a second, so we started at the 2.5 spacing thinking that they would end up 3 years apart. I believe that my husband was slightly disappointed that conception happened so quickly. For the third I had to convince my husband that we could handle it. I knew that I wanted a third almost immediately after our second was born, which is Not the feeling that I had after our first was born and felt completely overwhelmed. But I still had a long way to go on my dissertation &c&c. By the time we were both on board, the timing was what it is. I just finished my dissertation last week and I am now relieved that we waited. I am not sure that I could have finished with a small baby in the house as well as a toddler and a bigger kid.

    Someone raised the issue of how to finance more children in the comments. Gabby is that something that you feel comfortable addressing? Because we did not have a master plan (I am not sure that we ever actually discussed how many kids we’d like to have before we were already parents) we definitely did not plan the finance side of parenting. I am trying to be more conscious about those kinds of choices now that we will have three kids because I want to be fair to each of them in terms of opportunities and experiences. I would appreciate your thoughts!

    Great post!

    All best,


  19. My husband and I have four kids spaced: 15 mos; 2 years (exactly!); and 23 months. I love this spacing and the kids are so close already. I kind of knew what to hope for; in my own family there are four of us in five years. Throughout different stages of life our relationships have changed (at 15 I couldn’t be bothered with my 10 year old sister!), but by the time we were all out of/in college we have gotten and remained close.

  20. I am the eldest of 6 children. The sibling that I am closest to is 16 years younger then I am. Next to my husband, she is my best friend(she is 14, I am 30) and growing up she was my little buddy.

  21. For me, spacing is all about practicality. I can’t drive, so a minivan with permanently installed carseats is out, and I have to consider how to take all kids on a city bus, how to get to bus stops, and how to get off them and to wherever we’re going. This is for doctor’s appointments, outings that my husband’s not going on, errands, shopping trips that don’t involve groceries…

    How does this fact have to do with the spacing of my kids? Well, consider my second, which doesn’t exist here yet, as a newborn in a sling. With both, Toby, my first, has to be able to walk for a block or so without begging me to carry him and climb on buses without me carrying him. Similarly, I have to be able to fold up and carry my stroller onto and off the bus, so a double-seater is out of the question if I have to wrangle kids, too.

    He’s two now, and if we conceived right now, he’d be a few months over three by the time the second is born. Right now, he can walk a block slowly but unassisted, he needs a little help on and off buses but is confident to walk in them by just holding my hand, and he can be prompted to keep going or hurry up while walking around the block.

    I agree with Gabby on instinct; we as women can feel whether the next one is anxious to come or not. Sometimes these sorts of feelings can be very spiritual and very specific; my mom had a deep spiritual experience that gave her two more kids when she thought she was finished. It’s very intensely personal.

  22. Our two are five years apart. We wanted them to be at least four years apart b/c we did not want two in day care or college at the same time. They fight, but mostly get along well. I loved having my son all to myself for five years and I feel my daughter got the short end of the stick, being the younger one. For example, I took mom/baby swim classes with my son starting at 6 months, but my daughter still hasn’t had swim lessons and she just turned 6 years! One thing to watch out for with a longer gap…all your equipment from the first will be hopelessly outdated. We didn’t reuse the infant seat b/c it wasn’t LATCH compatible, for example. But all in all, I am very happy to have the larger gap…I’m the “young” mom when around those with kids of my son’s age and the “wise” mom when I’m with those with kids of my daughter’s age. Best of both worlds!

  23. We have 5: 7 y/o b/g twins, 5, 4, 9 mos. 5 kids with the oldest two being 7 is busy. I remember thinking quite a few times since we’ve had our fifth: I have never been this busy. The closest in age, besides the twins who were 8 minutes apart:), would be my third and fourth: 19 months. They are best friends and best enemies. They fight the most but also love the most.
    I come from a family of 7 kids, all roughly 2 years apart, give or take a year. We are all very close now and spend a lot of time together. My sisters, who are unmarried as of yet, all live together and my brothers and I are very close. I love big family fun. And in terms of how many? I always think about my youngest sibling and know that she’s probably glad my parents didn’t stop at 6:-)

  24. mom in mendon

    Can we AFFORD another baby? Will we cheat our existing child? A difficult question.

    I teach in a country that permits and even encourages abortion as a form of birth control. One of my students, a lovely young woman, recently learned her mother had an abortion. It happened when the student was a toddler. Although her mother explained that they wanted to be sure they could give her everything, the girl’s reaction was a tender sorrow. “Oh, I wouldn’t have been all alone!”

  25. When we married, my husband and I joked we’d have 24 kids! We both are second oldest children in families of 8 kids each. I knew what life in a “big” family could be like (I changed a LOT of diapers as the oldest daughter). Truth be told, I was not too sure I wanted to invite that chaos and mess and loudness by having lots of kids myself!

    BUT…after our first son was born, and I fell so completely in love with him and found that I actually found a lot of fulfillment and purpose in being a Mom….well, we decided to have another. And another. And another. And another! I’m incredibly happy being a Mom to 5 kids…it’s so wonderful, and unexpected!

    Our way of explaining how we plan our family is “One at a Time.” We’ve never had a serious plan, and our decision is to be open to expanding our family, one child at a time. Because anything can change at any time, right? Prayer plays a big role in our decision making, as well. I would love to have another child, another little person, join our family. Time will tell :-)

    As far as child-spacing goes, for us, I am one of those women for whom breastfeeding does naturally time my ability to conceive. I do not ovulate prior to 18 months after my babies are born. Our kids are all about 2.5 years apart, and it feels like just the right timing for us.

    Not many people understand how breastfeeding can work effectively to suppress ovulation. The LAM method requires more than just breastfeeding exclusively, and when followed, a woman has about 2% chance of becoming pregnant. It works for me, and I enjoy feeling like a part of the cycle of life rather than limiting it or worrying over it. It’s freeing.

  26. Oh, man. Reading about all this makes me want to have a sibling! I’m 22, and I’ve always missed the “built-in best friend” that most of my friends had.

    1. Gandhali, I agree that it’s wonderful how many people enjoy close relationships with their siblings (when they were kids, now that they’re adults, or at both times). However, having siblings doesn’t equal “built-in best friends.” My brother is 3 years older and my sister a year younger than I am.

      While I got along fine with both of them when we were kids, we were never “best friends” and aren’t especially close now. There’s no rift, anger, bitterness, or animosity … we’re just not much like each other and that, combined with geographic distance, create a current relationship that, while cordial, isn’t particularly close.

  27. I am the baby of 10. All my siblings were a year – 18 months apart (I don’t know how my mom/parents managed).
    I always wanted a big family of five. But I married late. Luckily, I had no issues getting pregnant. My two children (boy and girl) are 18 months apart. I am now blessed withanother pregnancy. It will be our last, bc I am 41 years old. And, my husband is worried about finances & putting our children through college!
    I love this topic, Gabrielle. And I adore your beautiful family…you all are such an inspiration!

  28. The timing is right for me on this one. The pregnancy test this morning had an extra line. I am absolutely terrified with this reality even though I have been wanting to add to our family for a long time. Here is the thing. I will be the big 4-0 in July. My last child was born 5 1/2 years ago. My first child has Down syndrome and still has a lot of needs. I have weight that I should have lost a long time ago. A lot to be nervous about. Here’s the thing: it’s kind of funny at the same time because this is also the day we get the key to our bigger house. In fact, I should be packing, not reading blogs, but I really love yours…thanks for your insight.

  29. When we first married, we decided to wait one year until getting pregnant. Then after four months, we were curious as to what our combined genes would create! Through the years, we didn’t really plan when to get pregnant. We just let it happen. We ended up having 3 sets of siblings (each set has a child 18 months to 3 years older than the earlier born child). It turned out that we had a 6 year gap between the first two and a 4 year gap (due to two miscarriages) between the third “pair.” Those gaps were a big help because the older set(s) could help with the younger ones. As adults, each pair is close, but each adult child is also close to another because of similar interests, or careers, or life circumstances, etc. Parenting is a combination of great challenges and great blessings.

  30. Our journey through building our family has been incredible. I always knew I wanted a large family. We had 5 boys, all grown now; the first two were 2 years apart, the middle son was 3 years later, and then a 5 year span, with a wind up of 2 years between the last two again. The first two always had a best friend, and the last two likewise. The middle son has commented that I should have had another closer to his age for that kind of relationship. The boys are all grown now, and following their own paths, but the younger 2 are bonded forever. We lost our oldest son at 17 in a car accident and it devastated his younger brother, who felt the loss deeply. That son is now a father and plans to have his kids close together, remembering that special bond he and his brother had.

  31. I grew up with a brother one year older and a brother seven years younger. My mom needed seven years to get over that first only-12 month age gap!
    Now that I have my own children, I see why she waited so long. My kids are three years apart, which for my family is perfect. My older daughter is potty trained and she loves to help out with the baby. She loves being a big sister and actually understands that she has a big role, and that is helping Mommy! She brings me bottles out of the fridge, bibs out of the closet. It’s just a nice gap.

    As far as knowing if you are done having kids or not…I thought I was done at 2, and I still could be, who knows, it’s not really up to me. But I would be open to having one more. I just love little babies! The sleep exhaustion and hard times really do fall away, when you are thinking bigger picture. I just always think about being an older woman, and having my “brood” come back to visit me, with their kids and spouses, etc. How lonely it would be to have no one do that. I can’t imagine having no children! I have some friends who are remaning childless, and that is their choice, but I personally can’t imagine it.

  32. What a beautiful, beautiful post about the growth of your family! We have one daughter who will be two at the end of July, and we hope to have another sometime soon(ish). The thing that I have been surprised by with the birth of my daughter is that I never expected to want a big family — two, maybe three tops — but I have been so blown away with how amazing she is and how much I love her and love being a mother … I could see myself going for three or four now in a heartbeat! It’s not going to happen (barring multiples!) because we married and started our family a little later (I’m 39), but it’s just been such a revelation to me! And if we are only able to have our one amazing daughter in the end, that is OK too. I feel so blessed with her!

  33. We have four children, and they’ve gotten successively closer: 28 months between the first two, then 23, then 22. My baby is a year old now, and normally I would be saying, “hmm, it’s almost time for another one!” but while I want to have (ideally 2) more children, I feel like I need a bit more of a break this time. I’d like to be done before I’m 35, so that gives me 6 years. :-)

    For me, it really comes down to praying about it. After my third baby was born I felt very distinctly that there was another baby waiting and ready to join our family on a quicker timetable than we’d had previously, and sure enough, there was! And right now, I feel like there are other things that are pressing in our lives (my husband is just finishing his Ph.D.) and that I need to allocate my attention there, since I have quite difficult pregnancies. Again, this is something where I really feel personally guided by prayer.

  34. Before baby #1 was born, we knew we’d have more than one, and that we wanted them close in age so they’d grow up pretty much side-by-side. I nursed, so our plan was as soon as my body gave the cue I could conceive again, we’d try for baby #2. That ended up being when our first was 13 months old (so our first and second are 23 months apart). We were on the fence about having a third, but 13 months after baby #2, Mother Nature stepped in and decided for us; babies #2 and #3 are 23 months apart as well.

    Our kids are 1, 3, and 5 now. The oldest two are really close, and I look forward to watching the baby develop a similar bond as she becomes more “kid” and less “baby,” but having this many small children is HARD right now. We have two in diapers, two in daycare, two who are totally dependent on us for dressing, bathing, food, etc. I know it will get easier as they grow more independent. I’m doing my very best to slow down and enjoy the baby and toddler stages, but there are many days where we are in survival mode. I want to know the secret for caring for everyone, giving them quality attention, and still running a household and working a 9-to-5 job!

  35. Thank you so much for this beautiful post! I read it yesterday after getting a positive pregnancy test the night before. I was feeling so nervous and overwhelmed about how life with two under two would work (My daughter is nearly 15 months; if all works out they’d be able 23 months apart). Your post felt like a sign that all would be well. I immediately felt more peaceful and excited, and emailed it to my husband. Thanks for helping me see beyond the here and now and giving me a glimpse into the great fun and love that awaits us!

  36. I have been thinking about this a lot. I always thought I’d have 3-4 kids 2 years apart. I still want 3 kids, but my daughter is 2 now. My husband is quitting his job for an unpaid internship for the fall (necessary for his graduation), and I am under-employed as a freelance writer…so, if I get pregnant now, the baby will be born right after a move to a different state, with unemployed parents, without medical insurance. But if I wait until a “financially feasible” time, the age gap between siblings will be more like 6 years, and I am uncomfortable with that. Also, I dread pregnancy and recovery from pregnancy. I laughed when you wrote, “If you feel like you would be completely overwhelmed to find yourself morning sick or caring for a newborn, perhaps it’s still time to wait.” [YES] “On the other hand, if you’re obsessed with babies and find yourself staring dreamily at maternity clothes, maybe it’s time for the next baby.” [YES] Both. That’s why I don’t trust my instincts: I’m getting a signal to stop and to go at the same time! I am reading articles (and comments) like this, seeking spiritual guidance, discussing it with my husband, venting to my mom and friends…perhaps I just need to be still and see which Yes is louder in my own head. Thanks for letting me unload in your comments. ;)

  37. Oh, baby spacing – what a challenging series of thoughts! I wanted to have a pile of kids – close together in age – so they could be buddies and so that I would be done while I was till young!

    My first two boys are 27 months apart. The next boy came along 21 months later. They are all good friends who fight at times. Boy #4 waited for a three-year gap due to health issues his dad was having (wanted him to be healthy before we tried again). Boy #5 was 23 months later, and is best buddies with #4.

    I thought we were done, but a surprise came along 5 years later – a girl! 20 months later we had twin boys. I love seeing how the close-in-age children play together, and I love to see how tender the older children are as they learn to care for the little ones. I love having a big family, but I’m done now. I might start killing children if I have to go through pregnancy and newborn-sleep-deprivation again. :-)

  38. I love how you included adoptive families and couples dealing with infertility in your post. Thank you. I have a 19 month old son through the miracle of adoption and we are hoping to adopt again. We have no idea as to when another child will come to our family but hope that it will be before our son is 3. And them when that baby is around a year old we will start the process all over again.

  39. i have four boys, all about 17 months apart. people are always asking if we’ll have another, i say maybe, although i’ve had a tubal ligation. you never know what God has in store for you! and we might be blessed again- which would be rough to have yet another c-section, but i’d do it in a heartbeat! i love my sweet, sweet kids. it IS hard, but i’m so surprised that my oldest will be starting kindergarten next year. seriously- it has gone by so fast.

    i love the parents who have come up to me with the ‘it’s hard, but so wonderful’ instead of the ‘whoa… four boys, hunh?’ … seriously- why would anyone say that? each of my children have been a gift to me, and can’t imagine life without em! (i seriously can’t believe i have FOUR kids. 10 years ago i wanted none. i married my hubs 8 years ago, and thought… i could see two. and bam! we have a sweet family of 6. love it)

  40. We always hoped to adopt and thought maybe we would have biological children as well. Turns out that we were meant to adopt all our kids. 3 summers ago we spent the summer in Ukraine adopting our 4 kids, biological siblings, all almost exactly a year apart in age (including the middle two – who share a birthdate – one year apart)! Now I did not birth 4 kids a year apart from eachother, but their biological mom did! Wow. We adopted them at ages 5, 6, 7, and 8. They are all the best of friends. Get along beautifully most all of the time. I would recommend having kids close together because of this, but mine all came potty trained (so what do I know)? ;) Also, I can not say I recommend going from 0 to 4 all at once. That took some getting used to, but in the best possible way!

    On the other hand, my sister is 8 years older than I am and my brother is 5 years older than I am and we are all very close and have been. So there is no magic formula. Opinions, blessings, luck, and patience.

  41. I had my first as a single parent, but desperately wanted to have more. Only, I didn’t feel ready for a relationship, so that wasn’t possible for some time. Then I met my now husband when my daughter was 3. We had our second daughter almost a year ago, when her big sister was 6. Six years is quite a gap and I found it hard to start all over again, but now that we’re more settled, I LOVE the bond between the sisters. I don’t know if they’ll ever be close friends but they sure adore each other.

    In my family, there’s 2 boys (4 years gap between them), then after 8 years I arrived and after another 4 my sister did. My brothers aren’t close at all but my sister and I are very close. She’s one of my best friends. Our older brothers also look out for us a lot. I think it all depends on the children’s personality too.

  42. I got pregnant with my third when my twins were only 15 months, so I was terrified. But at 23 months apart they don’t know life without each other. Things are crazy now that they are 4 and 2, but they really are 3 peas on a pod. We always said we would likely want a third, but if it hadn’t happened unexpectedly, I’m not sure we would’ve had the guts to go through with it.

  43. Unfortunately my husband and I didn’t seem to have a clear plan for having children. It felt like the right thing to do when we had the first. And I planned for a two year gap – so now I have two boys 26 months apart. The youngest is now 3.5 Problem is I feel strongly that I am done, being a mother is a huge challenge for me.
    But my husband can’t except this – he is desperate for a third. I don’t know how we will overcome this.

  44. Wow! This is so interesting. I have never thought about having more than 2. The idea never occurred to be about not knowing when to stop. I was thinking no children or one would be alright, two max. My brother and I are 6 years apart and we have always been extremely close. My husband and his sister are 10 years apart. I am not really worried about when to stop or how far apart (originally hoping for 5-6 years). I am nearing 32, married for 3 years, and (my big dilemma) still I am not sure when to start. But I read this blog just to hear about you “big” family adventures. I think it is all so wonderful no matter the size of your family as long as you have love!

  45. Geez! You get a lot of comments on these posts, don’t you?

    We have two children, 2.5 years apart. I am turning 30 this year and I would like to be finished having children when our oldest is around 12, which gives us about 8-9 more years.

    When people ask how many kids we will have, I always say, “I would like to be able to all ride in the same vehicle.” Assuming (or perhaps presuming) that conceiving is not an issue (as it has not been), we will probably have 2-3 more kids. But, we’d be open to having more.

    I like having babies a lot more than I thought I would. (Though I could pass on the whole pregnancy and child birth stage.)

    We live in an urban area where there are not many playmates around during the day. And, we are going to homeschool. So, I will be happy to have a whole mess of kids around the house.

    I like the whole “tribe” mentality of a large family.

    2.5 years seemed to be a nice space between our kids, but I might consider less time this next time around. I can see that my son (the older of the two) would really love his sister to be able to play with him more than she can now.

    The best thing about a 2.5 year difference? My son was potty-trained when his sister was born.

    That was awesome.

    And, on the subject of breastfeeding,
    I am an on-demand, 2-yr breastfeeding, co-sleeping mom who got her period less than 6m after each baby. So, that would have put my kids at 15m apart if I used it as birth control.
    A better way to use breastfeeding as an indication of the natural cycle of fertility, is to time your second pregnancy during the weaning stage of your first child. Then, continue that cycle for all children after that. It will give your body a few months’ break from breastfeeding, give you a few months’ emotional break from the neediness of breastfeeding child, and give your child a few months to adapt to not being the baby of the house.

  46. This is a great post with lots of thought and maturity and I wish I could have read it before having children…not that I would do things differently but you make some really good points.

  47. I have five kids age 9 to 3 weeks, spaced 19 months apart for the first three, then two years, then almost 4. The hardest was 2 years apart (a lot of jealousy) and the easiest so far has been the spacing of my last two at 3 years 8 months.

    I have a question for design mom. Could you PLEASE give us sources for the adorable clothes your children are wearing in these photos?


  48. I never thought I would get married or get pregnant: my plan was to be single and adopt a teenage girl when I turned 40 so we could do all the fun years together (hey, some people love babies – I love teenagers! What can I say?)

    Instead, I got married at 38, had my first baby at 40 and am now 6 months pregnant at 42. We didn’t plan for kids (we expected not to have any) but feel so overwhelmed with the blessing of two. I’ve had two miscarriages before each pregnancy, which makes us so much more appreciative than we may have been otherwise, I think.

    So our kids will be 23 months apart. Ideal? Not ideal? Too late now! :) Seriously, we think 2 years is perfect. Close enough, but not too close.

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