So, you think you're ready for baby #2 (or #3 or #4)? Congratulations on considering bringing another little one into the world!
If you ask me, one of the most inspiring features of successful parenthood is the willingness to do it again—this time with two (or more!) in hand.
You've got this.
Before you bust out your monthly cycle calendar, ask yourself (and your partner!) these 5 questions to make sure this is the prime time for baby making—
How many years apart should our children be?
There are pros and cons to different age gaps, so the key isto ask yourself what your priorities are.
Do you want to make sure you only have one child in diapers at a time? Do you want your older child to help out a little with chores and household responsibilities? Do you want your older child to be in school, so you can give your new babe more one-on-one bonding time, just like your older child had?
If so, you may want to shoot for a 2-4 year age gap.
Are you more interested in getting all of those diaper changes out of the way sooner? Don't feel like packing up all of those cute baby clothes just to pull them out again in a year or so? Worried you might forget all of those baby care basics you learned in a sleep deprived haze?
In this case, consider spacing your little ones closer together.
Of course, there are some things you will learn with a newborn that you will never forget—like how to brew the perfect pot of French press. ☕
In terms of child outcomes, if your older child is a girl, she may benefit cognitively from having a sibling closer in age. If your older child is a boy, he may fare better cognitively with a wider gap between him and future siblings.
Can we handle one more?
Okay, I'll say it. Some babies are (a little) easier than others. I've met babies who will sit, listen, engage, and go along with whatever you have in mind. I've met others (mine included) who will run circles around you and said chill baby while you try to engage with them.
After a little discussion, some of my mommy friends and I realized that those with seemingly calmer babies became pregnant again just a little sooner than those of us with more, shall we say, vigorous babes.
It may be anecdotal, but it certainly makes sense to consider your ability to effectively handle your current handful while caring for a new baby.
It also makes sense to consider your sanity as a mother before committing yourself to the responsibilities of a newborn in the midst of what must be the most terrible part of the terrible twos…surely this is the worst of it, right?
What do we need to do to prepare?
Finally enjoying the feeling that you have this whole mom thing figured out and don't really feel like giving it up just yet?
It's only fair that you have a little time to breathe once you have (at least somewhat) figured out baby #1. Before you get pregnant again, you may want to mentally prepare yourself for looking after another addition to your crew.
As for preparing your body, research suggests that it may be preferable to lose baby weight before another pregnancy in order to reduce risks of obesity.
Additionally, recent research suggests that pregnancies occurring less than 18 months after a previous birth are more likely to result in pre-term labor and low birth weight. This may be nature's way of telling us that our bodies need plenty of time to recover between pregnancies and births.
Preparing for another family addition may also mean enlisting the help of a child care provider, housekeeper, or another form of assistance to relieve some of your many mama duties. Depending on the local market, you may want to look into this assistance a few months in advance.
Financially, you will need to do a little bit of planning as well. If your children are spaced closely together, you may need to purchase a few baby items twice (e.g., cribs, swings, car seats). You may also find yourself paying for two college tuitions at the same time.
Then again, child care for two children close in age may save you money as many providers offer discounts for second siblings.
How will this change affect my older child?
Do you find your child in constant need of assistance and supervision, or do you think they might be ready to take on a little more independence?
If your child is old enough to be slightly more self-reliant in terms of playing, dressing, and using the potty, a new sibling might be just the ticket to promote these autonomous behaviors.
Plus, your older child may benefit from having a little brother or sister to play with and nurture.
If you have felt less of an emotional connection with your toddler lately (thanks, terrible twos!), you may want to focus on re-establishing that bond before trying for another child.
Research suggests that a second sibling can be stressful for older children, so keep that in mind, too.
When do I want to be done having kids?
Let's get scientific for a minute. The top factor in predicting your age of menopause is the age at which your mother experienced hers. Because it is genetically influenced, you may be able to estimate when you will be taken out of the baby-making game.
If you are so inclined, you may want to do some baby math to determine when you need to have your next child (especially if you want more to come after that!).
For me personally, I barely have enough energy to take care of my little handful now…and I had him when I was 27. Consider your own career, lifestyle, and energy level when determining how old (no, how young) you want to be when you have your children.
Is there ever a perfect time to have a baby? Heck no. Especially when you already have one or more little ones running around. Babies are a handful regardless of your current life situation. But sometimes that means we just have to throw a little caution to the wind and go for it!
If baby fever has struck (again), it might just be more fun to take that wild baby ride!
If anyone can handle another little sprout, it's you, mama. You've got this. Really.