How Far Apart Should You Space Your Kids? Parents Weigh In

It’s the number one question on the mind of every mom thinking about having another child: When’s the best time to do it?

A recent study from the University of Notre Dame found that kids who are at least two years older than their siblings are smarter. And the Mayo Clinic cites some health risks for getting pregnant within 12 months of your last delivery -- there’s a higher risk of placental abruption during the pregnancy and a slightly higher risk of autism in second-born children.

But there are also benefits of having kids close together: they have ready-made playmates, you can get those challenging years of diapers and bottles over with sooner, and older moms who hear their biological clock ticking may want to have their kids in quick succession before they’re considered high-risk or their fertility becomes an issue.

While no one can make this important decision except for you, we asked real parents to weigh in on what worked best for them.

“We have three kids, ages 6 years, 3 years, and 18 months. With our second child, we wanted to make sure the first was fully potty-trained. And then number two was so easy to handle, we figured let's go ahead and have a third quickly. We also liked the idea of them being in the same school together, even if only for a few years, where they’ll play together and have similar interests and some of the same friends.” — Jeffrey Mousa, 34, Easley, South Carolina

“My two girls are three years apart almost to the day, and it has been pretty great. The older one was also thrilled to play the big sister role and they are close enough in age that I can see a friendship developing. Now when her sister isn't around, she says she is ‘lonely’ without her. There was definitely some anxiety surrounding the arrival of a sibling, but no negative emotions directed toward the baby, which I was kind of amazed by!” — Jennifer Marquez, 36, New York City

“I have 6-year-old and 4 1/2-year-old — 18 months apart! It took me forever to get pregnant with our first child, so we didn't wait long to start trying for the second. The first few years were really hard because I was so sleep-deprived (and it didn’t help that my daughter had undiagnosed sensory issues; I just thought she was a really difficult child!). But now, we are in a much better place. My kids enjoy similar activities and they are close friends. It makes me so happy to see them chase after each other in the park.” — Jennifer Dodge, 41, Mill Valley, California

“Our daughters are eight years apart, and like most things in life, it has its upsides and downsides. With our newest daughter (who’s now 3), my husband and I had to start everything over again. From diapers to potty training to preschool to temper tantrums to discovering a whole world, it’s been a challenge. But my 11-year-old daughter is a huge help with her sister. It’s nice to be able to leave the room to fold laundry or take a shower and know that my oldest daughter can keep an eye on the youngest.” — Jennifer Smeth, 34, Atlanta

How did you family plan?

Written by Colleen Oakley for The Stir. Colleen is a writer, novelist, and mom of two rambunctious toddlers in Atlanta, Georgia.

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amazz... amazzonia

mine are 17 months apart and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world!

nonmember avatar momof3

Mine are all 5-6 years apart - 14, 9, 3. This was not a "plan." We had the first daughter, waited for no real reason, then had our second girl. Planned on not having any more. Then SURPRISE, its a boy!

miche... micheledo

We didn't plan.  :D  It took 2 years to get pregnant with our first, so we're a bit surprised when the others came so closely together.  There are six of them.  16 months, 18 months, 14 months, 26 months, and 18 months apart.

mommy... mommyof4kiddos7

My eldest two are 19 and 17 (2 years and 1 day apart). I had my son potty trained before my daughter came. My youngest are 3 and 6 months (2 and half years apart) however my daughter in this group has stalled on potty training so I have two in diapers. Not fun lol

3prin... 3princessplus2

My first two are 2 1/2 years apart my secon and 3rd are 4 years apart and my youngest will be 3.8 years by my due date with my son

CandM... CandM_Momster

My oldest and middle child are 2 1/2 years apart (DS just turned 6, and DD is 3 1/2).  My middle and youngest are just barely 3 years apart (YDS is 7 months).

If history repeats itself as far as how close my kids will be, I think about 2-3 years is the perfect age difference.  My brother and I are 18 months apart, and even now, in our 30's, we are more like aquaintences than siblings.  We were not friends, and family talks about how we had to be constantly seperated.

My oldest and middle child are best friends.  They do everything together.  And they both love to dote on and play with the youngest.  I feel like each one was able to get their time as a baby and the close age still lets them be close to each other.

nonmember avatar MrsKline89

Mine are 19 months old and 2 1/2 month old twins! So 3 boys in diapers 17 months apart. =/ But they are worth every minute!

weave... weaveress

My oldest two are 2.5yrs apart. They have always been best friends. Our baby is 9 yrs younger than are oldest. She is a sissy's girl and prefers her to anyone else. Our son who was 6 when the youngest arrived still seems jealous of his sister.

nonmember avatar Kristi

We had fertility issues so we took them when we could get them. 8 year old 3 year old and 2 year old. (miscarriage between the 8 and 3 year old)

MeAnd... MeAndThemMake4

My older 2 are 3 years apart (try are 14 and 11) then 8 years later came #3 and now my 4th is due in December, 3 years apart from my youngest. Done after this one!

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