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When Should I Have My Next Baby?

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When Should I Have My Next Baby?

When Should You Have the Next Baby? Tips and Suggestions for Expanding the Family

When Should You Have the Next Baby? Tips and Suggestions for Expanding the Family

When to Have a Second Child

Imagine: you are at a party, celebrating the first birthday of your firstborn, loving the fact that he or she is so grown up already yet still so small and precious. A well-meaning friend or relative approaches and asks, "When are you going to have your second child?"

Do you know how to answer? Have you even thought about it yet? Is the thought of your next pregnancy making you nervous?

Deciding to have another child is a big decision for couples. Oftentimes, it is a decision based on preference of spacing, financial stability, and sometimes even room in the house. Other times, it depends on the mother's health or the ability for the couple to conceive. While many couples choose to let the next pregnancy happen in its own timing, others like the idea of planning before the next child is conceived.

Are you thinking about having the next baby? Do you think you're ready to be pregnant once again? Here are some things to consider about spacing pregnancies and spacing children.

Having Two Kids

Ready to have the next baby?

Ready to have the next baby?

Spacing of Children

Spacing Pregnancies

Note: While the information presented here is true for many, many women, there are some women who have successfully had healthy pregnancies one after another with very little time in between. It may be acceptable to some, but for many, spacing the pregnancies appropriately is preferred.

The Time Between Pregnancies

After you have your first baby, your doctor or midwife will advise you not to have intercourse for at least six weeks, and after that time they may recommend birth control. Why is that? They know that if you have intercourse too soon after birth, you can become pregnant once more when your body has not yet healed from the first baby. This is true for women who have both vaginal and c-section births, but especially for those who had c-section births since both the inner and outer scars need to heal properly.

Your body goes through major changes during pregnancy, both inside and out. Once a baby is born, the body takes its time getting back to its pre-pregnancy state and condition. The uterus needs to shrink once more to its original (or close to its original) size. The hormones flowing through your body to maintain the pregnancy need to regulate themselves. The muscles and joints that have loosened themselves need to return to normal. If a woman had a vaginal birth, the birth canal needs to heal from the trauma it experienced. If a woman had a c-section, the uterine scar needs to heal properly and the surrounding organs need to function in properly in the space once more.

If a pregnancy happens too soon after birth, none of the above can get back to normal, causing trouble for the pregnant woman. She may have even more discomfort than the first pregnancy, feel exhausted due to taking care of the first baby, have a weakened immune system, and be at risk for a preterm birth. Plus, if a baby is conceived less than six months after a birth, chances are he/she will arrive at a smaller size than average and have a low birth weight.

Another important consideration when spacing pregnancies is maternity leave for working moms. According to FMLA, the federal law concerning family and medical leave, a parent may take 12 weeks out of a 12 month calendar to care for a newborn baby. If there is not enough time between babies, a mother may be out of a job or find herself returning to work immediately after birth if she does not have enough vacation or sick leave accrued. Both scenarios can take a toll on the mother since she may need to forfeit financial means or experience exhaustion from working and having to care for two young children.

The recommended amount of time between pregnancies is at least one year. One year is long enough for everything to get back to normal and allow the mother's health to be restored.

Having a Second Baby

How Many Years Are Between Your Kids?

My kids, spaced 2.5 years apart, are always together and get along well.

My kids, spaced 2.5 years apart, are always together and get along well.

Child Spacing

Spacing of children is a common topic among parents. There is often an article in the parenting magazines addressing the issue and giving parents advice about how many years there should be between their children.

Children born less than two years apart may be a challenge. Kids aren't fully out of the 'baby' stage until around age two or older when better sleeping patterns exist, potty training is accomplished, and speech is more developed. Having another baby before your firstborn is out of the baby stage is going to be like having two babies at once!

On the bright side, parents with two children under two will get through the baby stage much quicker and be able to keep and use the existing baby equipment. Also, since the siblings are so close in age, they'll always have someone to play with and keep them company.

On the other hand, having two kids four or more years apart can be difficult as well. Just when the parents have a preschooler who is well out of the baby stage, the next baby brings them right back into the sleepless nights, endless diaper changing, and crying fits. Along with that, baby equipment may need to be updated or replaced. A firstborn who is used to being the one and only might feel some resentment towards the new baby as well, especially when you're supposed to be watching their sporting event or musical performance but instead you need to focus your attention on a fussy baby.

This is not to say that it can't work. An older sibling can be a great help with the baby, giving you a hand when other adults are not around. An older sibling may also be protective of the new baby and pass along wisdom, feeling like such a pro when the baby tries to be like him or her.

Studies have shown that 2.5 years between children is ideal. One reason is because it gives the parents enough time to take care of and give attention to the first baby, and find a routine that works for all of them while not being so far from the baby stage. A recent study even found that children 2.5 years apart may do better in school. Think about it: as you're teaching your firstborn preschool concepts, your second born is right there, taking it all in.

For instance, my children are 2.5 years apart. When I teach my son about letters and numbers, his little sister is right next to us, repeating what we say. She's getting an early start to learning these concepts, and he has someone with which to practice. It's great to watch them interact this way and grow together!

Basically, it's up to you and your personal beliefs about spacing your children. If you think you and your body can handle two under two, go for it. If you'd rather wait a while longer, that's fine too. Just be prepared no matter what you decide!

Pros and Cons of Spacing Children 4+ Years


More time with firstborn

May have to buy new baby items (or store yours for long time)

Mom's body can get back in shape

Kids may not be close

Parents can get into a routine

Have to go through baby phases all over again

Firstborn can be in school when next baby is born

Juggle school/sports activities and baby

Longer time to practice raising a child

Older sibling may be jealous

Before the Next Baby

Spacing between your children is your personal decision, but there are a few things to consider before you have your next baby:

  • Your health. Are you healthy enough for another baby? Has your body had enough time to repair itself from the last birth? Are you taking your prenatal vitamins, especially those with folic acid? Are you up to date on your vaccinations? Preparing your body now for a new pregnancy will help you have a healthy pregnancy. If you have any concerns about health conditions or previous pregnancies, it's important to speak with your doctor before you try to conceive. Also, it's time to reconsider your birth control. Wait for at least two regular cycles to occur after stopping birth control before trying to conceive.
  • Agreement with your spouse and partner. Having another baby is something both you and your significant other should discuss so that you're both on the same page about it. Plus, it gives them the chance to get as healthy as possible to help take care of the new baby.
  • Your financial status. There's no need to be rich, but will you be able to provide for the baby? Can you put aside some money now in savings to use during maternity leave if necessary? It's a terrible thing to think about, I know, but babies cost money, especially if you no longer have the baby equipment from your first child, plus all of the diapers, wipes, and possibly formula that you might need.

When to Have the Next Baby

Deciding when to have the next baby is a big decision, isn't it? You'll know when the time is right for you. Best of luck!


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Marissa


Lara C. on September 21, 2015:

I think it's awesome to try for the gap you want, but not fret if it isn't what you expected. People get remarried, or have trouble conceiving a second, and ultimately families look different but are still family. :) These are great tips when you're thinking about what you want to plan for.

Julie Provost from Tennessee on June 02, 2014:

Great hub! My #1 and #2 are 2 years, 2 months apart. My #2 and #3 are 4 years apart. There really are pros and cons to both. I am not sure what I would do if I had to do it over again. I like that my oldest two are close in age and can do more of the same activities but I love that I have had so much time with my youngest because his brothers are old enough to go to school.

Marissa (author) from United States on February 07, 2013:

DIYmommy, I think it's a great idea to wait at least a year before trying again. Like you said, pregnancy can be hard on your body, plus it's nice to spend some time getting to know your first baby before introducing another new baby into the mix.

Best wishes with your family, and thanks for reading!

Julie on February 07, 2013:

My husband and I just had our first (a boy!) two months ago. Wanting to have at least 3 children, my husband has already begun to talk about having another. As for me, I'd really prefer to wait a little -- at least until my son is 1 year old. Because pregnancy can be such a taxing experience, I'd really just like a year "off" to enjoy our son.

Marissa (author) from United States on August 14, 2012:

Kathleen, thank you so much for sharing your story! That's great that your kids were close and it worked out well for all of you how they were spaced. You're right; everybody has to do what they think is best when it comes to spacing their kids.

Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on August 13, 2012:

I had three children (and a miscarriage) in 5 1/2 years and I look back and am amazed I pulled it off. I had many friends having their second when I was having my third. It looked like a good plan to me if you were only going to have two. The first being in Kindergarten gave Mom more time alone with the newborn - kind of like you have with your first and never have again. The first was also old enough to follow directions, get themselves in their carseat and be some help to Mom (bringing a clean diaper, finding a pacifier, checking to see if the baby was still asleep or needed something.) Because we wanted three, I didn't think I had that kind of time. I did wait three years between the last two because they were boys and needed more time for potty training. It worked out well only having 2 in college at the same time for a period of two years. The weddings were spaced out well and looks like the grandchildren will be too.

The voice of experience over the long haul. Everybody has to do what they think is best - if they have a choice. My adult children are very close and I'm grateful for that. It took a while for the oldest and youngest.

Marissa (author) from United States on July 20, 2012:

teaches12345, thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad you think this is good advice for parents. :)

Dianna Mendez on July 20, 2012:

Good advice on having the next child. Your suggestions in spacing and preparation are ones that parents should pay particular attention to in considering the next birth.

Marissa (author) from United States on July 20, 2012:

Julie DeNeen, I bet it was hard in the beginning with your three children, especially with an ill newborn! I'm really glad to see that they are all great together now. :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

Marissa (author) from United States on July 20, 2012:

ishwaryaa22, thank you very much for your very kind comment, and for sharing! :)

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on July 20, 2012:

Well I had three kids in three and a half years. I'm not going to lie. It was INSANE! (especially because the third one was sick for her newborn period). But now? They are 8,6, and 5. I would not have it any other way. They are a posse and it's great! Nice hub!

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on July 20, 2012:

An informative and well-advised hub! I totally agree with many sensible points listed by you concerning pregnancy spacing and child spacing. Your kids is an ideal example with regard to this engaging hub of yours! An extremely helpful hub for those with firstborns and future parents like me! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared

Marissa (author) from United States on July 19, 2012:

sofs, thanks for sharing your story! I'm glad you enjoy being a SAHM; I too left work after my second to be with the kids. It's hard work, but it's so worth it!

Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Marissa (author) from United States on July 19, 2012:

Aleta Friedich, thanks for sharing your story! I agree: being able to pay attention to and care for all kids is an important consideration when thinking about having more kids. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Sophie on July 19, 2012:

Great hub! you have considered all the important facts. For me personally, I had to keep delay my second baby due to the fact that my working hours were lengthening as my position moved up the cadre, I had little or no family support and daycare centers were terrible in our area... I quit just to have my precious second one .. and then became a stay at home Mom. Never regretted that decision though. Well written hub.

Aleta Friedrich from Medford, WI on July 18, 2012:

I have four kids, three with my ex...we chose three years between the first two. This gave us time to make sure we wanted more kids and enjoyed being a parent, and that our marriage could handle the change, then our next two were two years apart. If we would have had another it would have been three years, but there are 6 years between my fourth and third. All of my kids spoil her rotten! My son who is the 7 year old, just adores it depends on the parents and their attention availability to care for all the children the same and make them all feel loved. Since I'm a stay at home mom, I spend all day caring for them and giving each their own time with mommy.

Marissa (author) from United States on July 18, 2012:

Starmom41, that's awesome that your kids get along great being so far apart! My youngest two siblings are ten years apart, and aside from a few skirmishes here and there, they too get along fine. Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

Marissa (author) from United States on July 18, 2012:

Chrissieklinger, I know what you mean about mother nature not being cooperative! We tried spacing our kids two years apart, but they ended up two and a half years apart.

I'm actually the oldest of five, the youngest of us being only 8! Talk about spacing! There were two years between the first three, five years between the third and fourth, and ten years between the last two...And wouldn't you know, we all get along just fine. My mom might be a little crazy, though.. ;)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Starmom41 on July 18, 2012:

I spaced my two nearly ten years apart. It worked out fine, and they have always gotten along great. :)

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on July 18, 2012:

We tried to space ours about 2 years apart and mother nature was not cooperative. They are 2 yrs. and 8 months apart (boy and girl) and things have worked out very well. I am the oldest of 4 in my family either 2 yrs. or more than 10 yrs. is ideal spacing, anything in between usually causes problems.