I have a book called ‘The Well-Informed Parent’, and it is one of the few parenting books I have kept. It is a brilliant book (one I would highly recommend), all about what’s best for your baby based on the latest scientific research. It is so interesting, and I do love a bit of science.
Of course, science isn’t always the best for a certain child or scenario, but nevertheless, it is a very thoughtful read. It has chapter headings including: supplements, alcohol, stress, breastfeeding, circumcision, baby-led routines, parent-led routines, dummies, nappies, vaccines, car seats, co sleeping, organic food, screen time, and the one I am going to discuss in this post – spacing children.
Jared and I were laughing uncontrollably when we read through this section, as according to scientific research; with age gaps of 22 months and 26 months – the odds aren’t in our favour. According to research the best age gap is four years – parents are less tired, they have more time for each other, a woman’s body has sufficient time to recover, and as they are not similar in age they are likely to get along much better – simply because they are not interested in the same things. A gap of four years shows that vocabulary and reading ability are better too.
Research suggests that a gap of under 18 months, or a gap of four years is easier for parents – a gap of less than 18 months means the needs of the children are more closely aligned, and a gap of four years means the parents are able to give more time to each child. A gap between 18 months and 4 years means that sibling competition is increased, parents are more tired, jealously between the siblings is increased, toilet regression is likely to occur in the older sibling, and it hits a stage when separation anxiety is more likely to occur too. On the flip side – research suggests that children with a closer gap will bicker a lot, yet (predictably) they are more likely to have a closer relationship as adults.
Lots of factors influence when parents start trying for another child, including finances, age, contraception, fertility, work, emotional needs and health. Jared and I plan things years in advance around the things we want to do. A little selfishly I hasten to add. “If we want to do this, we need our kids to be at least…” and “If we want to do…the youngest has to be walking”. We must sound awful. There are so many things we want to experience with them, yet we’re not wishing our present to be any different, and I feel thankful every day that I am fortunate to have the choice to work – or not.
I know we will have at least four children, and the thought of planning to space them every four years does not sit well. I definitely favour a shorter, intense, busier time of our lives. I thrive off feeling a little all over the place, and emotionally I think I would struggle having a few years between pregnancies. We want our house to be busy and full of chatter. Although bickering can be very tiring – (I feel) it is such a good thing. It helps shape their personalities, and teaches them to always consider another person. Another plus point for a smaller gap is that days out will be a little easier in the future, as they will be interested in similar things.
Science is fascinating and I loved reading this little chapter in my book. Writing this has reminded me that families are so incredibly personal, and so unique. Each couple is made of two very different personalities, and for every single point mentioned in this chapter of the book I can think of dozens of anomalies using people I know. Ones that go against science, and it is perfectly perfect for them.
I myself am one of eleven siblings. Our age gaps range between 17 – 32 months, and I don’t think we have turned out too badly…but it’s certainly not for everyone!
What were your primary consideration when deciding to add to your family? I would love to know.