Adding another chubby-cheeked human to your family can be very exciting, but when is the right time? Many factors will influence this decision, including finances, age, and lifestyle.
For me, another baby was always a matter of when not if. I’ve realized that you’ll never be 100 percent ready, and that’s okay. No one can ever be completely prepared for any life-altering decision.
Here, we’re going to discuss the things that might help you determine whether you are ready for another baby.
Things to Consider Before Having Another Baby
Sure, they come with a lot of responsibility, but they’re definitely all worth it! So how will you know when you’re ready to have another baby?
One of the most significant factors that holds a lot of parents back from having another baby is their current financial status. Money isn’t everything, but it pays for school and braces.
The way we determined whether we’d be able to afford another baby is by having a current income sufficient enough to live comfortably. A savings account will also come in handy for things like vacations, a bigger car, or emergencies.
However, you want to be able to give your little one the best life from the start. If you’re barely holding your head above water, right now might not be the best time to expand your family.
If you’ve had your firstborn in your twenties—and you don’t have any health problems that could halt conception—you have a pretty big window. A woman’s fertility starts declining around her late thirties, so conception won’t happen as quickly at that age, if at all.
Depending on your life circumstances, being a young parent of two might not be ideal either. You might still be trying to prove yourself at work, moving house more often, and dealing with being a parent of one.
Ultimately, it’s entirely up to your body and your current situation.
A night out with friends will now be staying in to treat an ear infection, and you’ll have to cancel that yoga class after work to go to their first soccer game.
Having one child can already be overwhelming. Having two means you’ll have to give yourself over to parenthood—unless you can afford (and are willing to get) a nanny. If this is a sacrifice you’re happy to make for a new bundle of joy, it will bring you nothing but fulfillment.
The most important relationship as a parent will be with your partner. Only they understand what you are going through because they are too.
The reality of parenthood can either strengthen your relationship or put a strain on it, especially when you’re approaching round two. The key thing will be communication. You can’t read each other’s minds, so you’ll have to be honest and forthcoming. Remember, you’re a team.
Perhaps it’s not the best idea to “test” your relationship by having a baby. You want to ensure that the little one is welcomed into an already loving and functional family. If the relationship is still bumpy by the time they arrive, it could hurt their upbringing.
When Should You Have Another Baby?
Different age gaps between your first and second born will have different outcomes. Let’s dive into what you can expect:
One-Year Age Gap
Two under two could pose a lot of challenges, the most prevalent being the stress it puts on your body. Giving birth isn’t for the faint of heart, and it will take your body some time to recover.
Giving birth within a year of your first pregnancy could increase your risk of giving birth prematurely. You also run the risk of becoming deficient in iron.
One of the upsides to having another baby within a year is that they’re more likely to be buddies growing up. It will save you a lot of time and effort if they have the same playdates and extracurricular activities.
And the eldest will probably be less opposed to the new addition since they’ll be too young to comprehend what another baby means.
Two-Year Age Gap
Waiting two years before having another baby is the general consensus among most parents. For one, your body is ready, it’s had enough time to bounce back from the previous pregnancy. Waiting at least 18 months reduces the risk of complications, such as premature birth or low birthweight.
You’re also a more experienced parent now—raising another infant will be second nature. You're a pro at changing diapers, feeding, and dealing with colic. They will also be close enough in age to be friends and share friends later on.
However, there’s a chance that the eldest might act out. Two-year-olds are more aware of their surroundings, so jealousy might be an issue. Raising a newborn and a toddler might also mean chaos in your house, at least for a while.
Three to Four-Year Age Gap
Giving birth again after three years is considered to pose the lowest risk of labor complications. Waiting this long will be much easier on you.
Your toddler will be more independent—they’ll probably be potty-trained and able to eat on their own. You’ll have more time on your hands to tend to baby, and when you’ve been a parent for this long, it will be a force of habit.
Physical aggression is most common around the ages of two to three, so if your eldest is three, they could feel threatened and act out. They might even revert to baby-like behavior to get your attention.
As your kids grow older, they might not relate as much with a three to four year gap. You and your partner will have to divide activities.
More Than Four Years
Granted a child still needs a lot of love and care; five-year-olds are self-sufficient. You can get things done without having to watch over them all the time. And they’ll probably be in school already, so you’ll have half of the day to tend to the little one.
By the age of five, firstborns are more mature—and physical aggression has subsided at this point, so they’ll be gentler. They can assist you, like dressing the baby, and your youngest can even pick up on things from them, such as potty training and reading.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you’ve waited five years before giving birth again, that means you’ll be five years older. Being over 35 means there could be an increased risk for labor and delivery complications.
If you decide you’re ready for another baby, here are some tips to get prepared:
1. Take advantage of the extra time that you have right now. Go camping, take a spa day, visit family. With baby number two on the way, you won’t be doing that again any time soon.
2. Remember to eat healthy and stay hydrated. I know that you’ve already got your hands full with your eldest, but eating right—and enough—is not up for debate. Try to fit meal-prep in your schedule.
3. Repurpose your eldest’s baby things—trust me, it will save you a lot of money! From bottles, clothes, and toys to cribs and strollers. Don’t get rid of any of it until you’ve had your last kid, and wash or sterilize everything before reusing it. Keep in mind that car seats expire, so you need to check the expiration date.
4. Do something special with your firstborn. Get them a present or take them to Disneyland. You can even come up with a code word for them to use whenever they feel left out or anxious after the second one’s arrival.
5. Check your insurance. The benefits for your first child won’t necessarily be the same for the second.
You’ll Know When You Know
Being a parent is scary, but you already know that the benefits far outweigh the hurdles. Having a second baby will only multiply the joy.
Determining when you’re ready will depend entirely on your current life circumstances. My advice is don’t rush it, but also don’t overthink it—you’ll know when you are ready for another baby.