Whether your first baby was considered a relatively easy baby, or whether they were difficult, how to decide when to have another baby can be a loaded question.
When deciding whether to have another baby or not, you may be considering the temperament of your first child. Since every baby is completely different, if your first was a breeze, the worry is that your next won’t be. Or, perhaps your first was extremely difficult, you may worry that your next could be just as tough (my case).
There is so much to consider when it comes to having another baby. Many health factors (both mental and physical) as well as logistics, financial, and emotional concerns should all be taken into consideration.
How long to wait to have another baby
From a medical perspective, there is an optimal time frame to have another baby. Both having a baby too soon or waiting too long could carry risks for different reasons.
Having your next baby within 18-24 months, but less than 5 years, is what the medical research suggests is the best time for physical reasons.
If you’ve experienced postpartum depression, it’s important to wait until your symptoms are managed before trying to have another baby. You also want to have a support system and plan in place for your next child.
Although there is medical guidance on the time frame, it is ultimately a personal decision. If you and your family feel ready and your body feels ready, you should try for another!
What to consider when deciding whether or not to have another baby
You’ll want to consider four main perspectives for whether or not you should have another baby:
1. Medical Considerations
Is your body ready to carry another baby? You’ll want to be sure that your body is fully recovered from your last pregnancy. If you are less than 18-24 months postpartum (or after 5 years) do you intuitively feel like your body is prepared to carry a baby for 9 months, go through delivery, and then postpartum?
Your physical and medical considerations may not even have to do with your previous pregnancy or delivery, but other health issues that you may be experiencing. Consult your healthcare provider to determine if it is safe for you to have another baby.
Space: Do you have space in your home for another baby? Have you and your family decided how comfortable your living situation would be with a new baby or would you need to move to accommodate this new bundle of joy? Consider whether you would need to room share with the new baby, or if they would get their own nursery.
Also, does your car fit another car seat safely? If not you’ll need to consider either purchasing a new car, or making other vehicle arrangements.
Time: Does your current work schedule allow for a newborn or would you be able to take adequate maternity leave? Perhaps you have family or friends who are willing to help support you and your family. Having another baby might also mean you should talk about staying home from work.
Support: Do you have the support you need for the newborn stage specifically? This is a very demanding season no matter how easy your baby is or how seasoned you are as a parent. Do you have what you need to support you in this time? This is a helpful post on how to meal plan so anybody can come in and continue your meal planning system while you’re recovering.
Agreement: Are you and your partner on the same page with having another baby? Often times, getting both parents to agree on having another baby can be difficult. Parenting is hard and if you end up tricking your unwilling spouse to have another baby, it could be detrimental to your relationship.
Emotionally, there could be a lot at play as well. It’s important to consider your entire family and how they will be affected when you bring another family member into the mix.
Mama, are you ready for pregnancy and postpartum again? Dad, are you ready to be a supporter again? How about your other child(ren), do they understand what a sibling is yet and are they ready for one?
Babies are expensive! Not only do you have the medical bills associated with the pregnancy, birth, and check-ups – but you have another mouth to feed and human to support.
It’s important to look at short-term and long-term expenses associated with having another child. It’s been estimated that newborns cost around $20,000-50,000 in the first year of life and beyond that, children cost around $12,000. Here are some financial things to consider when having another baby.
Short-term expenses could include medical, baby gear, diapers, and must-haves for the newborn stage.
Long-term expenses could include medical, grade-schooling, college, transportation, food, clothes, shelter, etc.
Am I too old for another baby?
Of course, this is something you should discuss with your provider, but in the medical world, a geriatric pregnancy is considered anyone over 35 years old.
This certainly doesn’t mean you’re old if you’re over 35; and it also doesn’t mean you’re too old to have a safe pregnancy. It just means that statistically there is an increased risk of a complication during pregnancy.
You’ll want to especially consider your previous pregnancies and if they were high-risk or if there were any complications associated. Discuss this with your provider and do whatever you feel comfortable with.
Also, the older you get, the harder pregnancy and parenting is on your body. With age comes more aches, pains, and physical ailments. From bending over to change diapers to squatting on the floor to play with your baby, having babies gets harder the older you get.
Consider your long-term plans: Do you and your partner have plans of retiring by a certain age where having another baby would set you back from that goal? Would you be ok with that setback? Perhaps you have travel plans or downsizing goals – take these into consideration as well.
What’s the best time to have another baby?
This is totally a personal decision that you have to discuss with your family. Every family’s situation is unique.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to what the best time is for another baby:
Stay in the trenches: One logic is the “get it all done in one short block of time.” This would be a vote for having kids very close together (think Irish twins or 2 under 2). While it’s tough in the beginning because you will have two very young children who are fully dependent on you, they will be the best of friends and have each other as a playmate for those essential early years of life.
Staying in a similar stage is helpful with remembering how to care for a baby and not getting used to having some your time back yet.
Wait it out: The second stance is more along the lines of “let’s wait until our current children are more self-sufficient and can even help out with a baby a little.” This definitely makes it easier on parents to have an extra hand and not two completely dependent children. However, once you’re out of the “baby stage,” it’s tough to go back to being up all night and changing diapers.
You’ll also want to consider how close in age you want your children. Do you want them to have siblings that are close in age and can be more like a buddy? Or do you want them further apart so one can be more of a mentor to the other?
Again, this is a personal decision based on how you handled parenting your first child. I love having my children 14 months apart because now that they are 2 and 3, they keep each other busy and entertained at all times. On the other hand, they still like all the same toys so they tend to fight and bicker more!
How many children do you ultimately want?
Lastly, think about how many children you want total. You don’t need to know an exact number, but if you want a large family, you’ll probably want to get started on trying for another sooner rather than later.
This makes it more sensible to start having another baby quickly. If you only plan on having two, you have more wiggle room. However, you could also want to keep them close in age because they’ll only have one another.
Is it necessary to have a second or third baby?
It’s so important not to feel pressured into having another baby. Sometimes societal standards, stigmas, and pressure from friends and family can cloud what you actually prefer in terms of having another child. It is not necessary to have a second or third baby.
There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to both. Make the decision deliberately and strategically whether or not to have another child and you will feel more empowered with whatever decision you do make.
Should I have a 3rd baby?
Going from 2 to 3 children is said to be completely different than 0-1 and 1-2. Many parents actually say the transition from 2-3 children is easier than 0-1 or 1-2.
First, you are already invested in parenthood (that happened from 0-1) so your life has already been significantly changed. Second, you’ve already come to terms with having multiple children and juggling a million balls (1-2).
Some people have a different experience and say that when you go from 2 to 3, the free time you could sneak in before has suddenly disappeared. Multi-tasking and feeling like you need more hands is something that comes with having more than one child, whether it’s 2, 4, or 6!
Everyone’s experience is completely different. Consider everything we discussed in this post and you will be confident that you’re making the right family planning decisions for your loved ones.
Having more than one child is a wild ride. It can be stressful at times, but it truly is worth it. There’s nothing like that sibling bond and I believe it is the best gift that you can give your child.
Is it Time to Have Another Baby Checklist
If you’re a visual person and need some extra guidance on having another baby, I made a checklist for you:
- I feel like my body can carry another baby
- My provider is comfortable with me having another pregnancy
- I am within a safe time-frame (considering my own medical history) to have another baby
- My previous pregnancies did not pose a risk that would make another pregnancy unsafe
- I am at a healthy age to carry a baby to term
- I feel emotionally prepared to handle another pregnancy
- I feel emotionally prepared to handle another birth
- I feel emotionally prepared to handle the newborn stage
- I feel emotionally prepared to have another child to raise
- My partner feels emotionally prepared and ready to handle all of the above and to be the support system through it all.
- My children feel emotionally prepared for a sibling (if they are at an age where they understand this).
- I have space for a new baby
- We have a plan for where the baby will sleep and where we will put their things
- My work schedule can accommodate a new baby (or will be able to when the time comes)
- I have time to care for another baby
- I have an adequate support system to handle the newborn stage
- I have a plan for practical needs such as meals for my family
- My car is able to hold another car seat (or we are able to purchase a car with adequate space).
- I have medical insurance that will support another pregnancy, child birth and follow-up care for myself and baby
- My family has adequate income to support the short-term financial expenses required to care for a child (diapers, baby gear, food)
- My family has adequate income to support the long term financial expenses required to care for a child (living arrangements, school, extracurricular activities)
- My current children are currently at an age where I would want them to have a younger sibling.
- I would not feel detrimentally overwhelmed by having another baby right now
- Having a baby right now would not negatively impact the plans my partner and I have for retirement
- Having a baby right now would not negatively impact the plans my partner and I have for travel
- Having a baby right now would not negatively impact the plans my partner and I have for downsizing
- I want to have another baby
- My partner wants to have another baby
- My children want to have another sibling