Wednesday, 4 July 2012

What no one tells you about child spacing


You may have in mind the perfect age gap for your brood. However did you know that certain age gaps carry with them, emotional, financial, intellectual and even health consequences?

At present, we parents do not have the option of determining whether a next-born child will be active or quiet, able-bodied or disabled. But we at least have some control over the child’s age relative to that of his older sibling. Here I am going to explore the serious (and not so serious) consequences of each birth spacing.


1 Year Age Gap
(Your child is 1 year old when your next baby is born)

Pros:

  • You have a lower risk of preeclampsia than mothers who space their pregnancies wider apart (Mikolajczyk).
  • It consolidates the exhausting years that you are in "baby mode". You become a well-oil and efficient parenting machine with your conveyor belt of diaper changing, tooth brushing and tandem feeding. (Shared bathwater, anyone?) Such efficiency means that you have more time to spend on other activities (Osmanowski and Cardona).
  • If you work you will be on maternity leave while your eldest is still very much a baby, so you'll be around for important milestones such as first steps and words.
  • Your children will go through the same stages in fairly close succession, which makes it financially easier to hand down clothing, toys and equipment rather than arranging storage for years.
  • Observational studies of parents and how well they coped with young children have found that this age gap is easiest as the parent can treat both babies similarly (Wagner et al).
  • This age gap is thought to be best at unifying the family. "The early hardship of caring for two young children can help draw fathers into the action.  The tasks are so demanding that even the most alienated and reluctant father would have to step in" (Hart).
  • Your children may have the same friends, watch the same TV, and play the same games, all of which often means less work for you. 
  • You can organise family outings without having to wait years until the youngest child is ready to participate.
  • You can get rid of all of the baby clutter quicker.
  • Love variety? Good, because that's what you're likely to get. Where siblings are close in age they seek, child psychologists have argued, to differentiate themselves from one another all the more. The process is referred to as 'de-identification' (Brazier).
  • They'll play well together. “Siblings who know they need each other to continue their games are motivated to sort out their disagreements” (Baby Centre). In other words, as the importance of companionship goes up, the importance of rivalry goes down.
  • Your existing child is less likely to reject the new baby as they won’t fully understand issues such as displacement, territory or personal possessions. Having not experienced an extended period of exclusive parental attention, they develop lesser expectations of receiving preferential treatment from parents. These benefits have been shown to extend into adolescence (Kidwell).
  • Studies have shown that girls benefit intellectually from closer-spaced sibling age gaps. However the reverse is true for boys (Rosenberg and Sutton-Smith).
  • The closer the age gap, the more creative your children are likely to be, regardless of gender (Baer et al).
  • The ever-increasing age of first-time mothers can make it feel like that their so-called biological clock is ticking faster and faster. Having your children in quick succession can pacify fertility fears.
  • This age gap can also help career and childcare choices. If you’re working it can be easier to organise childcare for children of a similar age, rather than having years of juggling different childcare arrangements. You may save money because you can get a nanny for both children - this can work out cheaper than two daycare places.

Cons:


  • Falling pregnant so soon after your last pregnancy increases the risk that you will be deficient in important nutrients. For instance, you have a greater risk of developing iron deficiency and anaemia (Morasso et alVandenbroucke et al) and gastroschisis (Getz et al).
  • You have an increased risk of placental abruption (Blumenfeld et al).
  • Compared to women who wait two years to conceive, you are 3.4 times more likely to experience labor or delivery complications (MDCH).
  • If your previous birth was via caesarean, you are at an increased risk of uterine rupture if you attempt a VBAC. To give you the stats: waiting less than 6 months before trying again will triple your chances of uterine rupture during VBAC (Stamilio et alEsposito et al 2000).
  • Your baby is at a greater risk of having a lower-than-expected or low birth weight (less than 2500g), being preterm (King). This is thought to be linked to the low collagen concentrations in the cervix of women with closely spaced pregnancies (Sundtoft et al).
  • They are also at increased risk of suffering from congenital anomalies (Chen et al), schizophrenia (Gunawardana), menstrual disorders (Smits et al), and low IQ  (Probert; (Pettersson-Lidbom and Skogman Thoursie). The latter is particular so if your child is a boy.
  • Your baby is also at an increased risk of stillbirth or succumbing to early neonatal death, even if you live in a high-income country. Ouch! (Wendt).
  • You are more likely to develop the baby blues (Gürel).
  • The shorter the interval between pregnancies, the higher the SIDS rate (American SIDS Institute).
  • Over-supply of breastmilk is more likely to occur if your children are closely spaced. It’s as though your body is producing milk for a bigger baby and your newborn struggles with the faster flow of the milk (Cave and Fertleman).
  • Looking after a baby while you're pregnant can be very tiring. Your body won’t have fully recovered from the last pregnancy. You may be excessively tired and easily run down. Iron and calcium stores will not have had time to replenish (Winkvist et alKing).
  • Anything less than an 18 month gap has been shown to reduce a woman's life expectancy (Centre for Population Studies; The Independent).
  • Some studies suggest that you will be more likely to mistreat your children if you have spaced them this closely. 18% more likely, to be precise (Thompson et al).
  • Giving birth within 12 months of a prior birth is associated with complications such as placental abruption, which happens then the placenta separates from the uterine wall, and placenta previa, which occurs when a portion of the placenta covers the cervix (MayoClinic).
  • Having a gap of less than 17 months is associated with a significantly increased risk of having a baby of prematurely and underweight. The risks are highest for babies conceived less than six months after the birth of a previous child (World Health OrganisationConde-Agudelo et al).
  • You may feel that you haven't had enough time alone with your first-born before the next arrives.
  • Your older child is still very much a baby. He has plenty of baby needs and is going to have a tough time waiting for you to meet them.
  • Tandem breastfeeding is not appealing to everyone. Even if you like the idea, some babies self-wean during pregnancy (due to taste changes and possible drop in supply) so your breastfeeding relationship with your firstborn could be prematurely cut short.
  • You'll find it harder to shift the 'baby weight' (Davis).
  • The early years may pass in a blur. It will be an all-consuming experience of sleepless nights, diapers, breastfeeding, pureed food and laundry.
  • Being so close in age may mean that you are less able to enjoy your babies as individuals.
  • Your toddler may not be sleeping through regularly when your baby arrives.
  • In the early years, outings will be limited as you struggle to attend swim lessons, the park, and Mother & Toddler groups with both children.
  • Your children will be at an increased risk of attachment problems. The theory is that neither child gets enough attention from the mother to create the close mother-child bond that children need to flourish (Kauai Longitudinal Study).
  • Common interests lead to competition and one of the children (usually the youngest) can become insecure if he constantly does less well than his older sibling.
  • It's not all good news for the first-born either. Because their sibling was born before the older child lost the belief that they're responsible for everything that happens, a long-last psychological legacy often occurs: essentially, the older child, driven by fear of rejection, will have a chronic tendency to be highly self-critical and less likely to forgive themselves when they make mistakes. Many firstborns never lose this tendency to feel guilty and/or overly responsible when things go wrong (Blair).
  • At school, your younger child may feel like they are in the older child’s shadow academically. Being closer in age encourages competitiveness.
  • Some recent studies suggest that children who are born only a year after an older sibling are three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism (Gunnes et alCheslack-Postava et al). This is because women are more likely to have depleted levels of nutrients such as folate and iron, as well as higher stress levels, after a recent pregnancy (affecting fetal brain development). 
  • In the future, when your children want to start college, it’s going to cost a lot of money in a short space of time (Powell).
  • You are likely to need extra equipment, like a second cot (if you haven’t transitioned number-one by number-two’s arrival, or if your cot was intended to convert to a bed), a second car seat and a double stroller.
  • There will be double the college expenses, wedding expenses, etc within relatively close succession.

2 Year Age Gap
(Your child is 2 years old when your next baby is born)

Pros:

  • Having a 2 year gap may capitalise on changes to your body as a result of the previous pregnancy and birth that benefit carrying another baby (Zhu et alGrisaru-Granovsky et al). For example, it may be that increased blood flow to the uterus from the last pregnancy benefits the next baby, but that there is a limited time window of about two years before blood flow returns to pre-pregnancy levels.
  • You are 47% less likely to have a preterm baby than a woman with a shorter gap between pregnancies (Fuentes-Afflick and Hessol).
  • If you're over 35, this age gap is best for reducing the risk of your youngest child being preterm or low birthweight (Nabukera et al 2008).
  • You’ll remember how to care for a newborn whilst also having the confidence that comes with being a more experienced mum.
  • Your children will play reasonably well together.
  • Your first-born is now more capable of waiting a bit before having his needs satisfied.
  • Firstborns often take to their newly acquired status as the older child by showing new self-reliance in matters such as dressing, toilet use and feeding, even volunteering to give up their “babyish” bottles and by contentedly entertaining themselves.
  • This age gap has been shown to enhance the older child’s ability in maths and in reading (Buckles).

Cons:

  • If you suffer from morning sickness or other pregnancy issues, your toddler is old enough to observe it yet still too young to understand, and thus may become distressed.
  • There is likely to be times during pregnancy when you will need to lift your toddler which can put undue stress on your abdomen.
  • You'll be slammed with first-trimester exhaustion at a time when your wobbly toddler is learning to run and climb, and needs constant supervision.
  • Sibling jealousy will be at its worse than it would be with a smaller or larger age gap (Cave and Fertleman). At the age of two children are at their most egocentric and become frustrated easily when they cannot control their environment, which leaves them prone to jealousy (Bounty).
  • Separation anxiety (a normal developmental stage during which a toddler experiences anxiety if separated from his primary carer) is greatest at this age, so the introduction of a new baby at this time makes the regression more pronounced  (Probert).
  • You have the double pressure of an irritable newborn and toddler tantrums. It may seem at times that you have a very disharmonious household.
  • When you go out you’ll have worry about packing enough nappies for the newborn as well as packing extra clothes and making sure you know where the nearest bathroom is for your toilet-training toddler.
  • The younger sibling is almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with autism than a child with a larger age gap (Cheslack-Postava et al).
  • Children are more likely to have a negative view of themselves and their parents when their closest siblings are around two years apart, moreso than any other spacing (Kidwell). The firstborn child tends to become more demanding and negative toward their parents, and has more problems, such as in eating and sleeping. It is believed that children of this age are simply not ready yet to share their parents and thus experience intense resentment towards new siblings and lowered self-esteem because they’ve been “jilted". (If the space between siblings is under one year or over four years, the negativity disappears). Research at Colorado State University, for example, has found that for firstborns, having a younger sibling born two or more years later dealt the older child a blow to its self-esteem, while having a sibling born less than two years later did not have that effect (Goleman).
  • If your newborn is a constant crier this could distress your toddler. Two year olds are beginning to develop empathy and concern, yet are still too young to understand that crying babies are displaying normal, healthy behaviour.


3 Year Age Gap
(Your child is 3 years old when your next baby is born)

Pros:

  • Your elder child should cope well with your pregnancy, understanding on a basic level, morning sickness and your need for rest.
  • You can encourage your child's involvement in the pregnancy by taking him or her shopping for baby supplies or looking through his or her own baby items (which you probably still have hanging around) for things the new baby might use.
  • At this age your child may be receptive to having a doll so he or she can be a caregiver too, thus facilitating their understanding.
  • She will have her own established life and friends which will continue once the baby is born. This adds a helpful layer of consistency and familiarity to her life when she needs it most.
  • You have the lowest risk of labor complications (Zhu).
  • This age gap is best for the health of the new baby, with a decreased risk of being born prematurely, underweight or of developing congenital anomalies (Chen et alConde-Agudelo et al). In fact, a 3 year gap is nature’s preferred pattern. This is because until babies began using bottles, and a surplus of food for their mothers became available, women’s bodies were unlikely to conceive again until at least 3 years after birth.
  • This age gap between children is so common that your firstborn will have friends with similarly spaced siblings, which is very convenient for double playdates.
  • By the time your second baby arrives you should have caught up on sleep.
  • You’ll have time with just your baby while your older child is at pre-school.
  • Some of the most intense parts of parenting become easier with a calmer, and more independent 3 year old. She is more articulate and can entertain herself for limited amounts of time.
  • Your first-born is mature enough to enjoy the new baby and also to enjoy time away from you without seeing it as a threat.


Cons:

  • Observational studies of parents have found that this gap is the hardest to cope with from a practical view as the oldest child is too old to be treated similarly to his younger sibling but is not capable of caring for himself (Wagner et al).
  • Sibling jealousy is still intense. Your older child will understand exactly what the new arrival means, and may compete furiously for her share of you. She is old enough to make comparisons, but not mature enough to understand that babies need more of your care. 
  • Feeling that her security is being threatened can cause your older child to lash out at their younger sibling. Physical aggression peaks at age 3 (Tremblay).
  • There's a lot of evidence to show that preschoolers regress (e.g. toilet mishaps, baby talk, return to comforters) when a new baby is born. The effects are greatest with this gap (Probert).
  • The younger sibling is slightly more likely to be diagnosed with autism than a child with a larger age gap (Cheslack-Postava et al).
  • Your older child’s tiny-part toys are all over the house, which could pose a danger to your baby.
  • Those baby activities you enjoyed with your firstborn are impossible with a lively preschooler in tow.
  • Your older child can bring home illnesses from preschool (chicken pox, viral diseases, colds) which could prove harmful to your baby with their immature immune system.
  • Be prepared for for an influx of questions re: the birds and the bees, genitals, boobs, and other topics some parents find embarrassing.

Four Years+ Age Gap
(Your child is 4+ years old when your next baby is born)

Pros:

  • This is deemed the best spacing if you have a career (Troske and Voicu).
  • Some researchers believe this spacing is optimal for children's emotional and social development. ''It frees the parent from having to meet the demands and pressures of two children close together in age, thus allowing parents and children more time in one-to-one interaction for a more supportive and relaxed relationship'' (Kidwell).
  • This gap is good for your eldest child's self esteem - they are more secure and more independent as they have had your attention for years. The rationale here is that the longer a parent-child relationship remains exclusive, or at least has the appearance of exclusiveness, the greater the chance it will gather sufficient strength to withstand a second child’s intrusion. "The elder child has developed cognitively to the point that they are capable of realising that the arrival of the new baby wasn't because they were suddenly inadequate or had done something wrong" (Blair).
  • Many feel that older children, because of their greater intellectual maturity and independence, are in a better position to understand and therefore be spared, jealousy. Your children won't feel that they are competing for the same kind of attention from you. The older child "does not see a baby as competition, but as an adorable being to enjoy and nurture. She sees a baby as an addition to her life rather than a threat to her primary relationship with mom or dad...She is not with the baby sharing mom, but with the mom sharing the baby" (Aldort).
  • Your older child may be mature enough to attend the delivery, which can aid bonding.
  • If the birth involves a hospital stay, your older child is likely to cope better with being separated from you.
  • She is likely to be more gentle with the new arrival. Physical aggression in children is at its most frequent from ages two to four and gradually declines thereafter (Tremblay).
  • Studies have shown that boys in particular benefit intellectually from a large sibling age gap, particularly if they are the eldest child (Rosenberg and Sutton-Smith).
  • You are less likely to need a c-section (Cecatti et al).
  • The younger sibling is less likely to be diagnosed with autism than a child with a smaller age gap (Cheslack-Postava et al).
  • You’ll have plenty of time with your baby whilst your older child is at school. Indeed, observational studies of mothers and infants have found that if four years or more have passed since the birth of the last child, a mother is more likely to treat a new infant with the special care and attention she lavished on her firstborn (Goleman).
  • When your kids play together, their play will have more value. ‘Play works best in terms of nurturance when those playing are at different stages in childhood’ (Gray).
  • At about the age of five, children develop a distinct self-sufficiency that makes it easier for you to balance the needs of more than one child. Most can get themselves a snack, entertain themselves in their room, or have a friend over while you're busy with baby.
  • Those who are 4 or more years apart tend to accept help from each other more readily (usually the younger from the elder), and be more willing to teach and praise each other (Probert).
  • When you are in the middle of nursing, the older sibling can answer phone calls, get you a drink of water, fetch a baby wipe, etc.
  • You’ll have the confidence that comes with having been a parent for years. It's likely that you'll be more relaxed this time and less likely to worry about the little things.
  • Some parents report “enjoying their children more” because they are able to concentrate on each child without feeling constantly under pressure.  
  • Your older child will be more skilled at patience, sharing, compassion, and cooperation.
  • Some studies have found that children who are more widely spaced tend to have better communication skills (Wagner et al).
  • You and your partner will have had time to build a strong, stable relationship.
  • You extend your parenting years, delaying the quiet of the empty nest.
  • The new sibling - particularly if their gender is different from that of the older sibling - is likely to be treated as another first born, with the accompanying heightened attention from their parents (Blair).


Cons:

  • Waiting for years before having another child may not be an option for a mother who is reaching the end of her child-bearing years.
  • You have a greater risk of premature rupture of membranes (Cecatti et al).
  • Compared to women who wait two years to conceive, you are 4 times more likely to experience labor or delivery complications (MDCH).
  • Having a gap of more than five years is associated with a significantly increased risk of having a baby who is premature or underweight (McCowan and HorganGrisaru-Granovsky et al) or has congenital anomalies (Chen et al).
  • You are more likely to experience dystocia and other problematic labour/delivery as well as increasing the chance of suffering from preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and excessive amounts of protein in urine (Conde-Agudelo et alMayoClinicKhambaliaSandström et al).
  • You’ll be stretching out the exhausting early years – particularly if you plan a third child.
  • If you have a history of serious postpartum depression, your risk of developing it again increases the larger the gap between your pregnancies (Munk-Olsen).
  • You may feel a bit rusty and out of practice those first few nappying and feeding sessions. It can be hard to get back into baby mode after enjoying the freedom of a more self-sufficient child.
  • Baby-care advice is always changing, for example weaning recommendations and vaccination schedules change every few years.
  • It may be tough to deal with sleep deprivation and hard to keep up with an energetic toddler when you’re a few years older.
  • If your eldest child is four, they will be starting school (reception class in the UK) which is a stressful event in itself. Adding a new sibling to the mix will exacerbate the stress.
  • Breastfeeding in front of an older child (who is perhaps a teenager) can feel uncomfortable, but rest assured it's helpful for him to understand that nursing is a normal, healthy process.
  • Your children are less likely to play well together - one is creating a Lego castle while the other is trying to eat it.
  • When your sociable older child goes to parties and concerts, you’ll struggle with a toddler in tow.
  • On family outings, their needs will be different. There is often no way to satisfy both children, all at the same time. You and your partner may find yourselves driven in opposite directions, each with only one child. 
  • Your children's bond may be weaker. “Having one child followed by a long gap before another child can be like having two singletons. They may grow up having little in common” (Baby Centre). For instance, preteens do not consider themselves in the same league as children, and teenagers feel well above preteens. In most places, children born four years apart will not be together during preschool, junior school, high school, or even college.

59 comments:

Sarah Miles said...

A very interesting and very informative post. I do feel, that with 3, any sanity flew out of the window....2 and half age gap between them all. It is the 7 vs 2 year old that causes most problems...

Emma Smith said...

Nice read but rubbish pictures. Why must you put pictures of bottles and spoon feeding? Yet another example of normalising af. yes of course it could be ebm but really?? tut tut waggy finger!

Alpha Parent said...

Good point Emma. One of the pictures features a bottle AND a spoon. OMG.

SingaSling said...

Emma - I don't understand your acronyms. 'Normalising af.?' 'Ebm?". Please explain! Thanks

J said...

omg... yes, this article is now rubbish in my mind because of those pictures i paid NO attention too whatsoever. When I read it the first time I just thought how interesting.

Manic Mummy said...

Af = artificial feeding ebf = expressed breast milk (I think).

Alpha Parent said...

ebf = 'exclusive breast feeding' I assume. But not everyone does it, and as this isn't an article about infant feeding methods I didn't see how using 1 picture that features a bottle and a spoon (out of 13 pictures on the article) would be seen as anti-breastfeeding, anti-attachment parenting, anti-whatever. But I do concede that it's an irritating picture which suggests that for siblings to participate in baby care, artificial feeding must be used.

Tiffany said...

Are you kidding me? I breast fed my son for 9 months and we still have spoons and bottles in my home. I fail to see how this is normalizing artificial feeding or being anti-breastfeeding! The assumption is ridiculous.

Back to the point of the article, it was extremely interesting and very well put together. Thanks!

Millie Macka said...

This is an article about siblings, not about breast-feeding. My 2 girls were EBF (exclusively breastfed) for over a year and BLW (baby-led weaned) and never spoonfed. Still my 3-yr old loves to play with the 18-month old and pretend-feed her with a spoon. She also loves to pretend-feed the dollies a bottle or pull her shirt up occasionally... No biggie. Thanks for an interesting read!

Steph said...

Great article. As someone who has done both closer (22 months) and farther (6.5 years) spacing, I definitely agree with a lot of the information. Interesting about the autism risk with closer spacing. I knew nothing of that. Seems like something that should be widely known with the rampant ASD cases these days.
Thanks for yet another great read!

Salem Witch Child said...

There is a 10 yr age gap between my kids. I didn't plan it that way it just happened. DD and DS have a very good relationship. While no they aren't on the same page and yes sometimes she wants to go do more grown up things, she still loves and is well bonded with her little brother. Its almost like another type of mother/son relationship. Which may sound weird for some, but I see it as her practicing for her own children later in life. As far as them playing together, they do just fine with DD playing a game with DS. No different than an adult playing a game with their children.

As far as breastfeeding in front of her, I think children of all ages need to see more breastfeeding! I hope by my example when she has kids breastfeeding will be the most natural and preferred option to her.

xelomon said...

My babies will be 2 years apart, just like my brother and I. I find this especially true - "Children are more likely to have a negative view of themselves and their parents when their closest siblings are around two years apart ".
I am very critical of my parents and of my self, and have always been like this. I never thought it could be an influence from the sibling gap :)

meggo said...

I want to point out a type-o in your article. A younger sibling is twice as likely to be born with autism or related SPD/PDD/ASD, when the first child has *also* been diagnosed. (age spacing/2years). Please double and triple check your facts, and make sure they are coming from a reliable source before you perpetuate myths and misconceptions. A parent is not twice as likely to have a child with a development disorder, if you are spacing them 2 or more years apart. The autism rate in America is 1:88, 1:54 boys, and 1:252 girls. While strides are being made in research, diagnosis, education and therapy for individuals with autism, no one factor has been pinpointed to the cause of it. I like your blog, and find your opinions interesting, but you are also responsible for citing correct information, and if your information is not fully correct, you need to leave it out.

Alpha Parent said...

Hello Meggo. I question that.

See here: http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/autism-risk-increased-with-short-birth-spacing/

Quote:

"Recent research, published in Pediatrics, has shown that children spaced less than one year from their older siblings are at an increased risk of autism.

First and second born siblings born in California between 1992 and 2002 were studied. If the oldest child had a diagnosis of autism, the sibling pair was excluded from the study."

meggo said...

I've ready the study...and while I understand where you would find this information interesting...a site from 'babycenter' hardly makes it true, or accurate. Again, please refrain from using singular sources and studies in your opinion articles. There is very little evidence to back that statement up, and putting something like that on your site as fact creates a mentality of 'oh i read that and now I know it's true', when it's not. You just need to be aware that when people read this, they are going to think you are accredited to speak on such things...and youre not. Youre a SAHM with very little knowledge about ASD/SPD/PDD, so you should not speak on things you, yourself, are not an expert on. Do you have your BCaBA? Are you a Behavioral Psycologist? Have you ever worked with a family or provided care (medically/spiritually/theraputically) for anyone with this developmental disorder? Or done your own clinical research, data, graphs and collection of qualitative and quantitative research to qualify you as a professional in this area? If not, I suggest you either find a few more credible sources, or remove that comment, because it's wildly inaccurate and irresponsible to suggest that half of the population with siblings spaced 2 to 3 years apart will run a doubled risk of having a developmental disorder.

meggo said...

And I am referring to your statement that children spaced 2-3 years apart (gestation/birth) are at a doubled risk. Children spaced 1 year is a completely different study. Again, Please be accurate with your information, as you are responsible for being truthful to your readers

Alpha Parent said...

"Have you ever worked with a family or provided care (medically/spiritually/theraputically) for anyone with this developmental disorder? Or done your own clinical research, data, graphs and collection of qualitative and quantitative research to qualify you as a professional in this area?"

Yes and yes. No need to be rude. I have the qualifications and experience, besides being a mother. Please be accurate with your information about me, as you are responsible for being truthful to any readers. You clearly haven't researched me or know anything of my background.

meggo said...

i know you studied ECD and Law, whether it was ever practiced, I do not know. I'd love to see your examples of research and data to back up this statement you've provided in your article, though. You are the one putting information with untrue biases in your article-- I'm only pointing out that you should change it, as someone who has dedicated their career and education to children that have autism. While my comment may have sounded rude, it was not meant that way-- I just meant to say that you are not a behavioral specialist, a Dr., or clinical researcher, that would be qualified to make an educated statement such as that. Very little is known about the causes of autism, and more to the point, research is showing more and more that it is a variety of biological and environmental factors that have to do with a child having a developmental disorder. I don't have to research you as a person...you're moniker says it all "the snobby side of parenting"...please be a little more discretionary about the sources you are using.

Pat said...

My children are 22, 19, 15 and 11. I breastfed them each for a number of years. Could not have had them any closer together: that's the spacing I got with lactational amenorrhoea. For me, the spacing of my children wasn't a choice, it was just what my body did. What your article didn't say about child spacing is that sometimes, for some women, you don't have a choice. You get what you get. In my case, I felt it worked out exactly how it was meant to be. My children seemed to need exactly that kind of spacing.

Victoria said...

Strange, I thought I was reading an article about age gaps -- not breastfeeding?? All of the above negativity is what is wrong with the parenting world! Whether the kid is breastfed, bottle fed, or spoon fed, isn't all that matters is the baby is being fed?! Parenting is hard as it is, there's no reason to make it harder by passing judgement on others! (And this is coming from a breastfeeding mom!!!)

Jerri Wiser said...

Some moms do not get the luxury of breastfeeding their babies. With my first child my milk dried up after about 6-7 weeks and with my second i breastfed for 8-9 weeks only to find out that shes lactose sensitive and did not digest my breastmilk well. So also, think about mothers who dont have the option to breastfeed before judging them please.

Rachel R. said...

What bizarre comments, about the bottles and, especially, spoons! Are breastfed babies not expected to ever use spoons? As a 32-year-old, *I* certainly use a spoon on a regular basis.

I find the information interesting; however, it seems most useful if a family ONLY has two children. We are expecting baby #4, with gaps of 5 years, 2.5 years, and 2 years (NONE of them planned by us, time-wise - this is exactly how God spaced them), and the dynamic is much more complex than anything an article about a simple single-spacing dynamic can possibly address. (This is not a complaint about the author. The complexities are just, truly, more than it's possible to quantify so readily.)

I also wanted to point out that many of the health-related risks of having babies very close together than can be reduced considerably by an excellent diet, because they're nutritional in nature.

adriane Peterson said...

Although, this has nothing to do with the article..I BF my first for 2.5 years and will start BF my second on Monday (induction). I never would base my decision to BF or not based on a picture in an article of a bottle fed baby. I can't imagine people are really that stupid that they would....

Mammy D said...

Is this line a joke?

"At present, we parents do not have the option of determining whether a next-born child will be active or quiet, able-bodied or disabled."

Candida said...

thank you for all the effort that went into the article. my little sons are 19 months apart and I'm excited to see how they grow up together and with subsequent siblings.

a.u.dry said...

Such an interesting article!!
Cannot believe the rude comments you are receiving. "Meggo" is being extremely rude for basically saying that a sahm is not qualifted to have an opinion. I'm assuming she is a child owner and not a parent.

Annalyn said...

Very interesting. My son will be 4, possibly 5 by the time our next baby arrives. Some of the cons though don't apply to me. I had my son when I was 18, so having my next one at 23 isn't going to slow me down because I'm older. Most people don't even start until now. I would have preferred having my children closer together but I needed some time to grow up! I'm thinking a 2 year gap will be just right for the next babies.

incrediblesourc said...

To the author: it's 2012, going on 2013. The sentiment is fairytale-esque and perhaps your ideal but 'your partner' is not the norm. Who says every family is double parented? Please research parenting statistics and see the high number of single parent by choice and/or circumstance families and also extended families with divorces, remarriages, stepfamilies and adoptions.

xlaurenelise said...

Great evidence-based article that raised some interesting positives and negatives.

To all of you hyper-critical commenters: this article is designed to be all-inclusive. Take the advice that is applicable to you and ignore the advice that does not apply to you; so easy!

Missy Malavansos said...

Great article! Very helpful and informative. And all of you negative Nancy's out there should quite over-analyzing every picture and every word said. This is not the bible, it is an article that hopefully you can find helpful. If you don't like it, click the red box on the upper right hand side of your screen. :)

Cassandra Fox said...

How are the ages calculated for the purpose of the article? Is a year gap from birth or conception? Great info. Gave me a lot to think about and weigh the options. I've been trying to decide this very question since my daughter was 3 months old. I always thought a 2 year gap was ideal, but some of those cons are scaring the daylights out of me.

ABC Mom said...

Our oldest two children have a two year gap and while they love eachoher tremendously they bicker all the time (6yo daughter & 4yo son). However my younger two (4yo son & 3yo daughter- 14 mo apart) are almost inseperable, I always joke that they should have beeb twins. Also my 6yo gets along great with my 3yo and they play together a lot but many times my 6yo also acts very motherly to her little sis. That being said my youngest had several health issues from being so close in age to her brother- she had horrible jaundice as a newborn, and the other major thing is the lack of sufficient enamel on her teeth from a lack of calcium.

Amy said...

I enjoyed the article and couldn't help but read the comment dispute between meggo and alpha parent. Let me prefice by saying I am a parent of an autistic child. If anything, it spurred me to go out there and do my earn research and look at the studies available. In my opinion, it's aplha paren'ts blog- she can write what she wants. Meggo was rude.

Alpha Parent said...

Meggo you must have missed the part where I said, "Recent research, published in Pediatrics" (you know, the peer-reviewed medical journal).

Dre said...

Well... whether or not you think Meggo was rude, she pointed out an excellent fact-- the Pediatrics study on ASDs in siblings shows the greatest risk with a gap at less than one year... NOT two years. So, the facts in this case are not true as Alpha Mom as written. Would suggest correcting or clarifying in the original post.

Alpha Parent said...

Dre, the study showed an increase risk with both one AND two year gaps. Do read the study next time before being hypocritical.

Dre said...

Um I don't think you used the word hypocritical correctly. And do read what I wrote more closely, dear. It is correct the greatest risk was the one year gap which isn't reflected in how you authored that talking point.I feel you had an aggressive and immature reaction to a benign post asking for clarity.

Alpha Parent said...

Dre, you were hypocritical by accusing inaccuracy whilst being inaccure yourself. At no point in the article did I state that the largest gap was at two years. I think you're reading into this what you want.

Kristin said...

People like you need to just keep your big fat mouth shut! I want to point out, that you are obviously an ugly person (inside and out) that feels the need to be rude to make up for what you are lacking! You are not better than anybody! I would be surprised if you even have a single person in your life that actually enjoys you.

kveg said...

I have to say I am gobsmacked at some of the comments above - I came across this site as I was researching sibling age-gap affect. I find both the site owner and readers alike to be so childish in their approach. How utterly riddiculous to be arguing in this way - what a wonderful example to our children.

Jaime said...

Thank you for the article. As a mom of one DS, my husband and i often wondered if there was a preferred age gap between siblings and when might be a good time for our family to add another child. This was informative and had excellent points to think about. Thank you for sharing and please ignore all the negative comments.

Mandi said...

Interesting read! My four are 6.5, 5, 3.5, and 1. A lot of these points are spot-on for us. You mentioned (under 2-year gap) that a child might happily take on the older-child status and become increasingly self-reliant. It is also quite common for the older child to feel that the baby is getting special attention, and revert in areas such as potty training. You may have mentioned it and I missed it (it's late), but I thought some readers might want to take it into consideration.

Mine were all pretty much conceived as soon as they could be, but with the older two I worked full-time, so they got a lot of EBM, and my fertility returned much sooner. The natural spacing really did seem to be an easier transition, for me and for them. If I could do it over again, I'd probably try to have them all about 2.5-3 years apart. Then again, their age difference is part of who they are, and I wouldn't want them any different.

Jenna said...

For all you whacked women out there who got that this post was about anti-breast feeding when it clearly states "What no one tells you about child spacing" Guess what there are some women out there like myself who can't breast feed. My milk NEVER came in with all 3 of my children. and I tried everything I could do to get it to. and guess what all 3 of them got a bottle and was spoon fed and something even more shocking I have a wonderful bond with all 3! You can't tell me that just because you got to have your baby feed off of you that you have a better bond with your child then I do with mine. That is just a bunch of crap. So sorry that I dont buy into your little spill about how breast feeding is so great grand and wonderful because you get a bond that on one else does.

Sally's_Blog said...

I'll be honest, I saw the picture showing the hint of a bottle in the corner and immediately stopped breastfeeding my child...
Lol!
No, but really great article, glad I read it, thanks for putting all the information out there:-)

Jordan and Melissa said...

Just to be Switzerland here, I do believe that Meggo has a point and I agree that we can't just go off of what someone printed on the internet to "be true." I believe that things should be looked into more on the subject before being cited as evidence. It would worry me, as a mother who plans to have my children spaced between 2-3 years apart, to read that my second child is twice as likely to have autism. In fact, it did worry me. It kinda scared me... it wasn't until I read Meggo's comments that I felt more reassured about the subject. Kristin, I don't feel your words were used wisely. You are calling Meggo an ugly person inside and out and that she is lacking something. I don't know either of you, but I don't think you should be calling another person names, especially one who you do not know except by her comments which could be a result of a bad day, her education and background, her experiences, etc. She was simply trying to state her point (and for good reason) and you failed to see it. There is no need for angry, hurtful words that fail to achieve you and her any happiness. I am grateful for her (Meggo's) comments because had I not seen them I would have wanted to space my kids differently and as of right now I am baby hungry (lol) so waiting much longer to have my second would be torture. I do not say any of my words in anger, but I do say them in earnest concern. I do appreciate Alpha parents blog on this subject though because I did always have questions about the spacing.

ashley romig said...

Wow alpha parent, you really don't handle criticism well.

Jay Knowles said...

I really appreciate you putting sources with a lot of your facts! This blog post is much more useful than most, thanks!

Kimberly Sanders said...

I'm 19, about to turn 20, and my youngest sister just turned 3. Talk about a 17 year age gap! We have a great relationship. My mom is a single parent who works a lot so I was in the father role those first 2 1/2 years. I babysat her everyday and basically raised her until I came to college. So I think when there's an age gap this large your older children will put themselves into more of a responsible parenting role.

Kayleigh Vickery said...

Yikes lots of negativity flying around. I'm going to say its because each person cares about the welfare of their childrrn child siblings relations that this has come about. Lovely to read someone else's views research and to appreciate the time and effort gone into each of these comments!

becky oliver said...

I have to say ridiculous. There are uncountable factors that go into sibbling bonds and relationships. Having something in common as children like.. what music they listen to or type of movies they watch is not a real factor in sibbling bonds. From birth they have one thing in common and that is they are a family. Eventually they will all be adults together. In my opinion 1 or 10 years difference has nothing to do with a sibbling bond will be or won't be strong. Factors such as...Parents and what values they teach, demonstrate and encourage. How they structure behavior toward each other in and out of their home. How they facilitate bonding through outings, activites, time spent with one, some or all of the family. Being supportive to eachother by being at eachothers, plays, sporting events, recitals and such. Personalities, experiences, personal preferences and of course culture all have a hand in what kind of sibbling bonds your children will have. I have known sibblings a couple years apart that are very bonded and some that are not bonded at all. I have witnessed sisters 10 years apart and they always have been close since the day the youngest sister was born. As adults they adore eachother and have so much fun together. I have witnessed my own niece and nephew only 3 years apart who do not stand up for eachother when friends are not nice to their sibbling and are outright cruel to eachother. They say they hate eachother. It makes me so sad to see. As a sibbling myself I never would let one of my friends say or do a bad thing to my brother or sister when we were growing up. We would fight to the death FOR eachother and we are all 7 years apart. We enjoy eachother and laugh at the same things, think similarly etc... We were raised in an on the go house,...strongly encouraged to participate in everything and support eachother in everything, be there for eachother. We fought and yelled...slamed a few doors but the fun and experiences we had far outweighed that. My little brother told on me and spyed on me when I was a teen and I did the same to my sister when she was a teen but it did not change or hurt our bond. I just dont believe there is an exact science to any of this. A good example is an american stable family who has a kid turn out a drug addict or a murderer...what did they do wrong in raising the kid? What science did they not follow? A lot of times nothing was done wrong,..the kid had a great home, childhood and loving supportive family. Worrying about how many years apart we should space our children should be very very low on the priority list of life concerns. Instead we should be more concerned with raising honest, reponsible, reliable, kind, caring, giving, unselfish, grateful, respectful kids. Kids with a conscience. Kids with depth beyond the mall and having sex at age 11. Kids that can see a bigger picture beyond the wallet and wanting to be a reality show star. Kids that know what it feels like to accomplish something. Kids that start something and see it through. Kids who can make a commitment. Kids who feel empowered by contributing themselves to the real things in life. Kids who know how to laugh at themselves and enjoy life. Kids who feel good about themselves and have true joy in their hearts.

emilybaxter said...

A fun read! I have a 4 yr and 1.5 year spacing - a few of the points certainly ring true!

doulamumma said...

Thanks for the post! I enjoyed the post :)

Kelly @ IdealistMom.com said...

Such a thorough list, thank you for this! Pinning it now :)

Jenna said...

The bigger sister is pretend feeding the baby with the spoon

Natashia Vogel said...

Can someone tell me about why the spoons are a big deal? I certainly want to be doing the best for my babies, and in the US they recommend spoon feeding a child (I believe as an alternative to putting cereal in bottles, etc.) I would love to have nursed exclusively, but that wasn't possible, so my baby is bottle fed, but please explain the issue with the spoon. Thanks

gazza said...

Thanks for the interesting read - some good observations and gave me some things to think about that I hadn't considered previously. To all the wowsers above, jeesh, lighten up! This is a blog article and is not meant to be definitive - I'm surprised the hard core detractors above don't implode every time they go online.

Danette Brown said...

For the gal who stopped BF because baby was having an issue with the lactose in her milk- it's not your milk that baby was having issues with but the milk/dairy/milk protien YOU were consuming. Babies aren't allergic to breastmilk, rather they might have allergies to something that mom is consuming. Please be informed before you stop BF!

sezza said...

Comment on the actual article - very interesting thanks I found it a good read.
Comment on the rest of the comments - OMG I can't believe the immense load of negativity/criticising going on here - you all obviously think you know the most about everything - and the stupid thing is that it's (mostly) not even pertinent to the article!!! Stop taking yourselves so seriously - I would think that most mothers would do what they thought was best for their children - and they are all in different situations/backgrounds/health issues etc. So stop being such judgmental prigs and concentrate on your own problems!! Surely there are other blogs just for people like this to bitch to each other all day - this isn't it.

Ariel S. said...

Great article Alpha parent. I'm thinking about the next baby even though I'm not ready but I feel brody every time I see new born. My brother is 4 years older than me and we have been fighting pretty much all our lives and even now. I feel unloved by my brother so I have to plan well for my children.

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