What’s the best gap between children?


If you do a google search, you’ll see that I’m not the only one who has attempted to answer this question. The following is the most thorough response you’re ever going to find on the web. It breaks down pros and cons of a 1 year gap, 2 year gap, a 3 year gap, and a 4yrs or greater gap:

The Alpha Parent: What No One Tells You About Child Spacing

As you see, each child spacing option has its major pros and cons. From health benefits for mother or baby to bonding between siblings. While browsing the internet, one thought that has come up over and over again is that the shorter spacing between children is better for the children but the longer spacing between children is better for the parents.

I’m the oldest of 4 girls. The idea that if the children are close in age they will be closer in sibling relationship isn’t true in our family. It just so happened that those closest in age didn’t get along and the siblings 5 years apart were buds.

My husband had a 4 year gap between each sibling. He feels that he and his siblings didn’t become friends until they were adults. He identifies with the photo above.

In my brief research, I’ve noticed that very few admit to not liking the spacing of their children. It seems that once that 2nd or 3rd child is here, what they currently have is considered the best spacing option.

So what is the best gap between children? I like what Dr. Sears has to say on the matter:

“Dr. Sears, What’s your opinion about spacing children?”Child spacing varies from family to family. There is seldom the ideal time for a child. If we always waited for “the perfect time” to have a child, we would probably have two instead of eight. An important factor is the need level of the baby. If you have a very high-need infant who requires a lot of time and energy, it would be wise to space the next one two to three years apart for two reasons: to avoid parent burnout and to fill the needs of your infant before a competitor comes into the family. If you have a somewhat easy infant, spacing even one year apart often works because then you have an in-house playmate. Don’t worry about having enough love to go around for your next child. You’ll be surprised how the love and extra energy for your next child just seems to appear. (askdrsears.com)

This leaves me to wonder: when you’ve only had one child, how do you know if you have a high-need infant or not? All babies require a lot of time and energy do they not?

In real life (not just on the web, ha!), I’ve had a few people tell me that a 3 year gap was their favourite. Historically, women often had children 3+ years apart as they’d breast-feed for 2+ years and then their cycle would resume. Nowadays, a 3 year gap could mean that your 3 year old goes to pre-school some days a week so you have some 1:1 time with your baby.

In this day and age, couples are having children much later in life. Maternal age is a factor for many when deciding child spacing.

So what’s the best spacing of children? I don’t know and I’m not sure there is one. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts! What did you think of your spacing between siblings growing up? Did you dream of having children a certain gap apart? And what have you observed from others re: child spacing. Hope to hear from you in the comments!

5 thoughts on “What’s the best gap between children?”

  1. My siblings and I are 2.5 years apart so 3 years in school. It gave me enough space to be separate from my sister and brother (they are twins) but also enough closeness to share in some life experiences with them. I find once you are grown up the age gap isn’t as noticeable anyway. My SIL/BIL only have a 15 month age gap between their children and I think they found the first few years with two to be overwhelming. Their second was much needier than the first. Either way, I don’t think there is ever a perfect option. It’s different for every family.

    1. I agree about the gap not being as noticeable as an adult. I also agree that there’s never a perfect option, although closer spacing may be more overwhelming for the parents. I didn’t know that your siblings are twins 🙂

      1. Surprisingly, fraternal twins runs in the family. My mom is also a twin with her brother. We joked if we got twins we could continue the trend…except not really. 🙂

  2. I always thought 2 years was the perfect gap and I was on track to have that gap when I lost my second. The growing age gap between my kiddos was one of the hardest things I had to come to terms with after my loss, when I then had to deal with infertility. My kids are 3 1/2 years apart and I have to say that though initially I hated how large the gap was, I’m kind of loving it too for all the reasons mentioned above! DS starts pre-k in September, giving me tons of 1:1 time with new LO. Plus I only have 1 in diapers at a time. My oldest is also independent which makes my life with a newborn a little easier.

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