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Raising Kids With A Wide Age Gap: Benefits and Challenges

Raising Kids With A Wide Age Gap: Benefits and Challenges

Most siblings are 2 to 3 years apart, with the gap small enough to establish a close relationship, but far enough to establish seniority. But what if your children have a wide age gap, like 5 years or more? In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits and challenges of raising kids with a wide age gap.

The “Best” Age Gap Between Siblings: Does It Exist?

When planning for a family, parents often think about spacing their kids.

Some want to get all things done early on, so their interpregnancy intervals are small. Others want to give undivided attention to each child, so they try to keep the siblings apart in age.

But, is there really “the best” age gap between children?

raising kids with a wide age gap

If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all answer, there isn’t one. After all, the best age gap depends on many things:

  • Is it physically okay for the mother to conceive again?
  • Are the parents financially and emotionally prepared for another baby?
  • What is their preference when it comes to spacing their children?

One report that reviewed three studies mentioned that kids should be 18 to 23 months apart because it is in that gap where adverse birth outcomes are at their lowest. Another paper mentioned the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes increases when the gap is shorter than 18 months or longer than 59 months. However, those are just two reports, and they didn’t take into account other factors like the parents’ readiness and preference.

Possible Advantages of Raising Kids with a Wide Age Gap

Is there an advantage to having kids with a wide age gap? Interestingly, there are!

More Time to Breathe

Envision a parent with 3 kids: 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years old respectively. One needs constant nappy changes, the other might still be under potty training, and the oldest probably still needs help in the bathroom. Imagine when all these kids need their mom or dad at the same time. It will surely be overwhelming.

When siblings have a wider age gap, the oldest can usually play with little supervision, while mom or dad attends to the needs of the baby.

More One-on-One Time With the Younger Child

Another advantage of raising kids with a wide age gap is the ability to have more one-on-one time with the younger child.

When the older child is already in school, parents can focus on the younger baby. They can play with them more and do things that promote their growth and development.

Less Possibility of Jealousy

According to experts, jealousy between brothers and sisters is common: it may start at the arrival of a new baby and persist until the kids are well into their teens.

When children have a wide age gap, there might be less possibility of jealousy. That’s because the older sibling can be old enough to understand that it’s normal for families to have more than one child. In fact, with patience and guidance, the older child might even be able to help take care of the baby.

Additionally, when kids are farther apart in age, it’s less likely for them to feel competitive toward one another.

Possible Challenges of Raising Kids with a Wide Age Gap

If there are benefits to raising kids with a wide age gap, it follows that there are also disadvantages.

For one, you may need to relearn some of the baby skills you might have already forgotten, like bathing the baby or changing their diaper. And like mentioned earlier, a gap of more than 59 months may be associated with adverse outcomes.

Finally, siblings with a wide age gap may not be close to one another until they are a little bit older.

Key Takeaways

Raising kids with a wide age gap both have advantages and challenges, so it’s best to consider things that matter, such as the mother’s physical capacity to bear a child again, mental, emotional, and financial preparedness, as well as preferences.

Learn more about Parenting here.

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Sources

Effect of interpregnancy interval on birth outcomes: findings from three recent US studies
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15820365/
Accessed August 17, 2021

Feeling the Pinch: Child Spacing and Constraints on Parental Economic Investments in Children
https://academic.oup.com/sf/article-abstract/73/4/1465/2233288?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Accessed August 17, 2021

Jealousy and Sibling Rivalry
https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/documents/jealousy.pdf
Accessed August 17, 2021

Birth spacing and risk of adverse perinatal outcomes: a meta-analysis
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16622143/
Accessed August 17, 2021

Why Can’t I Be More Like My Brother? The Role and Correlates of Sibling Social Comparison Orientation
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10964-015-0327-8
Accessed August 17, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Aug 19, 2021
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza