Mind the gap – are bigger or smaller age gaps better?

I grew up with one brother. When my mum was pregnant with him she and my dad gave me the choice of a puppy or a baby brother or sister.

 I chose the puppy.

 I didn’t get it.

 My second choice was a baby sister.

 No luck there either.

 I got the baby brother.

 Not one of my first two choices.

There were just over seven years between us. We had nothing in common. We went through our lives at different stages and were treated very differently as of course, our ages and abilities were very different.

The biggest gap between our children is between the two girls, Stephanie and Caitlin at 5 years and 4 months. The smallest is between children five and six, Eddie and Sid, at less than a year. Again, I noticed the same issues as I experienced first hand when I was younger. Ben and Stephanie were fourteen months apart. They were best friends and worst enemies. Always playing together yet an argument was never far behind. When Caitlin came along they loved her as their baby sister but she wasn’t at the same stage of being able to join in the games or the things that they were interested in. The differences were more noticeable and so the restrictions were more apparent.

After Caitlin came six boys in a row who now range from 11 months up to 8 years. Yes, six boys stair stepping down over a seven year period. The largest gap between any two of them is 22 months. Many people recoil in horror at having so many children so closely spaced but me, I prefer it.

Between each brother and the next there is more in common. There isn’t very much the eight year old can do that the six year old can’t and virtually nothing between the six and the five year old’s abilities. And even though the two year old can’t keep up with the five, six and eight year olds as much, there is the link between them of the four year old who is almost able to keep up with the five year old yet not quite miles away skillswise from the two year old. So they all link up together nicely, each bringing their own talent, skills and ways to the table.

This also helps each of them deal with others of different ages and abilities. They become aware that not everybody has the same physical dexterity or logical way of thinking or doing something. They learn that the two year old might not be able to build a complex structure from K’nex but he’s very able and keen to show off his row of cars in size order which he made all by himself.

So while there may be several children, all very young and all very close together in age, I actually find it easier this way than I did with the three older ones, when the older two were so developmentally different than the third and with such an obvious gap in between.

Are bigger or smaller gaps better? How long is a piece of string? Everyone will have a different opinion on this and I am keen to know yours.


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4 thoughts on “Mind the gap – are bigger or smaller age gaps better?

  1. Because of the death of the middle child in infancy, my siblings and i were spaced 17 months, 4 years, 20ish months. We loved each other of course, but we were two sets of pairs, we were the 'girls', the younger two were the 'babies' (even when they were 10 years old, much to their disgust!). my sister and I did everything together, the younger two did everything together, but very rarely did we do things all together as the four of us. I definitely am not fond of huge gaps between siblings.

    My ideal gap? I suppose it's 15-21 months (baby being 6 months to 12 months at time of conception). Before modern views on pregnancy, 6 months was considered good pregnancy recovery time. After 6 months babies began the process of weaning to solids, mothers began menstruating again, babies were less needy, usually sleeping through the night, mothers had forgotten all those times they said 'I'm never doing this again' lol.

    Many women who continue breastfeeding still find their periods return not long after the 6 month mark. And while doctors are now saying 2 years to recover from pregnancy, I'm yet to hear a valid reason as to why that's supposed to be the case. Add a few months to actually fall pregnant and 18 months seems to be the magic number. The number of siblings I come across with 17,18,19 months between them is amazing.

  2. I am also keen to have kids closer together than further apart. However, I have had a few with large gaps between them, not by choice, it just happened that way.
    I agree with your comments Tania, that they play better together and learn to tolerate the differences better as they can remember when they were at that stage too.
    I'm really hoping to have a closer age gap between #11 and #12. Guess I'm going to have to decide when is a good time to wean her….

  3. Because of new marriages my siblings and I are very spaced apart 9years between me and my older sister and 6 with my younger brother so my sister wanted nothing to do with me and I felt abandoned when she moved out and with my little brother it was hard for him to keep up with me and the neighbor kids growing up. Now my children are 10,8,4 and 1 it was my plan to have them closer together but it just didnt happen that way as I feared its hard for the youngest two to keep up with their siblings and takes extra planing to keep everyone occupied, happy and safe, but this is what God had planned for us so we will take it all in stride and do our best with what comes our way. -norma

  4. There is 14 months between my older two and yes they do fight but the truth is they like having the same interests in life. My younger two had a slightly bigger gap due to a miscarriage but because of LIvvy's special needs they were really close to. My youngest feels lost now LIvvy has passed, she feels on her own surrounded by vile teens. Im glad i had mine the way i did.

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