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Expert Advice

What is the best age gap between siblings?

What's ideal, a big or small age gap between your children?

Some parents love having their kids close together so the experiences of sleepless nights, potty training, feeding etc happen at the same time. For others, a big gap is preferred to manage one child's development at a time. So, is a bigger age gap between siblings better than being close in age?
"Children close in age means you are always very busy"
Chantal Kayem, child psychologist and author of The Happy Toddler (insight Publications), says:
"How you space your kids is a personal decision dependent upon factors such as your temperament, your relationship with your partner and how much support you have.
Generally speaking, the further apart siblings are in age, the less work it is for parents in the short term. Looking after young children takes a great deal out of parents, both physically and emotionally. As children get older, they need less attention and, by the time they are three, most are less needy, demanding and difficult. Having children very close in age means that, in the short term, you're very busy caring for their needs a great deal of the time. Having them further apart gives you more breathing space and time for yourself.
With siblings close in age, it takes a great deal of patience for parents to handle the many nerve-racking moments without feeling emotionally drained. With siblings further apart in age, parents are faced with these stressful situations less often. It is also easier to give your children one-to-one attention, and sibling tension and jealousy are less likely."
Children close in age means you are always very busy! Getty Images
"I love seeing them play and laugh together"
Kathryn Wakelin, journalist, student and mum of three children aged five, three and 17 months, says:
"I always wanted to have children close in age because I believe this provides more opportunity for common ground and shared experiences. I think that physically being with your siblings, sharing and doing things together is a huge contributor to emotional intimacy and companionship. Of course, it can be difficult for the parents – the first few months with a new baby are really hard – but as the kids get older and start playing together, I'm finding it easier, and I just love seeing them all laughing together.
While it really hits the hip pocket to have three kids in daycare, the financial burden is confined to a short, really intense period, and drop-offs and pick-ups are easy when all three are at the same centre. Our kids will all be at school in four years so the pressure will ease.
As for sibling rivalry, I've found the older ones don't have time to get territorial. They're also fascinated by the baby and it's as if they have this life-sized doll to play with. I've also been lucky with baby equipment: I've only had to buy one pram and one stroller, and all the toys and plenty of clothes have been re-loved."
WATCH: Super mum gets four babies ready for bed. Continues after video ...
What our Facebook mums said:
  • "There are 19 months between my first two and while it was a nice gap, by the time they were three and four I was tired! I waited nine years before having another two. I love the big gap as I have lots of hands to help!" -Brooke Craig
  • "Five years between one and two was great as they both had equal amounts of one-on-one mummy time before heading off to school." -Nerelle Truscott
  • "I'm about to experience both. My first two are 17 months apart. When my youngest turned six months they became like twins. Now aged five and three and a half, they're at a brilliant age. My third child is due in seven weeks, so the gap will be three and a half years. I'm seeing the positives: the older two sleep through, are toilet trained, dress themselves and my oldest is at preschool three days a week." -Rebekah Kemp
  • "I have a 17-month gap between my kids. My fourth is due in six weeks. I think it's really tough to have them close together because i deal with tantrums and fighting constantly. And whenever a new baby arrives, two of them are still too young to understand. All three still need my full attention so it's really tiring and i need tons of patience every day." -Nadine Odendaal
  • "My first two are 11 months apart and good friends. There's a five and a half year age gap between the second and third. They all play together and adore each other. It's just perfect." -Corrina Claut
  • "We have 7 children. My children have always been really excited that another one is on the way. I think it has a lot to do with the attitude of the parents, if parents are excited and include the child/ren in that excitement, picking out clothes, organising etc, then the chid will see it as a good thing to look forward to." -Christina Matheson
  • "I love our big age gaps! I got to enjoy each of my children as babies, and the older sibling was old enough to understand and enjoy the experience, plus they loved helping too! I wouldn't change it! The only thing that would make me change to smaller gaps is if I wanted to have more children, but we are happy with three." -Melissa Miller

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