15 Moms Share Their Best Tips for Bridging a Huge Sibling Age Gap

Wendy Robinson | Oct 27, 2017 Being a Mom
15 Moms Share Their Best Tips for Bridging a Huge Sibling Age Gap
Image: iStock.com/Choreograph


When I was growing up, my older brothers were basically like mythical creatures to me. They're eight and twelve years older than I am, so it wasn't until we were all adults that I felt like I really got to know them. I always felt like I wanted to have my own kids very close together in age so they'd have more of that lifelong friendship people always talk about it when it comes to siblings. But, as any parent knows, things don't always go exactly as planned.

Now I'm both a mom and stepmom, and the combination of having a large blended family and going through some tough fertility challenges means that my daughter has older brothers who are 22, 19, and 4 years older than her. Pretty big age gaps, right? So much for that whole "close in age" plan I had, right?

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Luckily, my daughter loves all of her (much) older brothers, and they are all so sweet with her. But I'm always looking for ways to help them bond and make sure they feel connected as siblings. That's why I decided to talk to some other moms who have kids with a five-year or more age gap in between them. These moms had lots of genius ideas for how to help siblings bond, no matter the age gap, and some really sweet stories of what sibling love can look like. PS: I'm totally stealing idea #9!

  • Special Bond


    "My daughters are 15 years apart, but they still have a special bond. When my oldest got married, my younger one got to be flower girl and they did a lot of pre-wedding stuff together. I really encouraged my oldest to love her little sister and it worked." -- Martie D., Humble, Texas

  • Natural Curiosity


    "My son was 7 when my baby was born. I wasn't sure how interested or engaged he would be but it turns out he had a lot of natural curiosity about all things baby. I let him ask all sorts of questions and he turned into my little helper buddy. He even changes diapers." -- Arlene D., Stockton, California

  • Walk This Way


    "My older son basically taught the baby to walk! I think being in the teacher/explainer mode is going to be one of the ways he bonds with a little guy who is five years younger." -- Danielle D., San Diego, California 

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  • Give It Time


    "I always wanted my daughters to be close but with six years between them, it felt like they never really clicked. But now they are both in college and they are closer than ever before. I say don't worry about it if they aren't close right away. Give it time and it will come." -- Sharon R., Lansing, Michigan 

  • Sister, Not Sitter


    "My first daughter is 14 years old and her sister is only 7, so there is for sure a gap there. I really want them to develop a closeness, because I'm super close with my sisters. One thing I've decided is to not ask my older daughter to babysit. If she volunteers, great! But I don't want her to feel like her little sister is a job." -- Anna M., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

  • School Ties


    "One of the best moments ever for my kids (who have a 10-year age gap) was when my 18-year-old son got to take a day off of school to chaperone his brother's school field trip to the zoo. My big son was treated like a god and his brother ate it up. And I didn't have to go -- wins all around!" -- Tammy P., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

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  • Simpler Times


    "My 14-year-old daughter recently got dumped for the first time. She was heartbroken and wouldn't talk to anyone about it. But her little sister just kept hugging her and bringing her stuffed animals. It was sweet and I'm glad they have each other." -- Beth T., Grand Haven, Michigan

  • Brother Bonds


    "I'm very intentional about my boys realizing that family should be your most important relationship. I designated Saturday afternoons as 'brother time' and they get to take turns choosing the activity they do. It helps bridge the five-year gap, I think." -- Lara S., Atlanta, Georgia

  • Read On


    "My son loves to read. He's a total bookworm. He is totally uninterested in all the stuff my daughter loves. But I recently put him in charge of reading her bedtime stories every night and they both love it. And bedtime is easier for me, so woo!" -- Jessica E., Tucson, Arizona

  • Man Stuff


    "My 19-year-old son has a list of 'man rules' that he plans to teach his little brother. I was widowed when my youngest was only 4 and my older son has really stepped up to help raise him. It is pretty amazing that something so precious has come from something so sad." -- Monae E., Lansing, Michigan

  • Big Love


    "I had my first child when I was only 16 and my baby last year when I was 38, so there is a huge age gap. Thankfully my older daughter loves the baby. They will have a very unique relationship, I think. I don't know exactly what it will look like yet though. Right now I'm just glad for the extra set of hands to help!" -- Lorna R., Maple Grove, Minnesota

  • Secrets


    "One thing I have promised my girls is that if they tell each other secrets, I won't try to make one tell on the other. I think they have to trust each other to be able to bond. I know my younger told her sister first about having her first big crush and I'm cool with it!" -- Val H., Santa Rosa, California

  • Score!


    "My high-school-age son is the coach for his little brother's soccer team. Not only does this give them something to bond over, but my bigger son has discovered he loves working with little kids and now wants to be a teacher when he grows up. Love that." -- Beth W., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Share the Attention


    "I think my biggest piece of advice is to make sure you still give the older kid attention. My 5-year-old is more vocally needy but I actually think my surly 15-year-old needs me more right now. I make sure we get one-on-one time so she doesn't resent her brother." -- Tiffany P., Chicago, Illinois 

  • Hardest Goodbye


    "The hardest moment of having kids with a seven-year age gap was seeing how devastated the younger one was when her sister moved out to go to college. She was sobbing. Our plan is to send her there for sibling weekend so they can reconnect." -- Gayle D., Holland, Michigan

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