What’s the best age gap between siblings?

Planning your family ― should you have your kids close together, or spaced further apart? Will it affect sibling relationships?

Stay-at-home-mum of two Cordelia Ho, 36, initially planned to have her kids two years apart. An older brother who was two years her senior gave her “someone to look up to, yet not too much older, such that we couldn’t relate to each other,” she explains. “That, to me, was the ideal age gap.”

However, Ho’s plans changed when her husband was posted to China for work when her firstborn, Jasper, was 8 months old. Says Ho, mum to Avril, 3, and Jasper, 8, “I couldn’t imagine being overseas with no family support, and getting pregnant while looking after an active toddler.”

So, it was only when the family returned to Singapore when Jasper was 4 that the couple decided to try for another child. As to the wider age gap between her children, Ho sees both pros and cons. “While Jasper is extremely protective of his mei mei, I feel that he’s getting to the age where he has a close group of friends in primary school, and Avril can’t quite fit into that scheme of things.”

Another mum, Jasmine Song, chose to have her kids, Sarah, 3, and Charmaine, 4, soon after the first one arrived as she wanted them to have a tight bond. “It’s incredibly hard work in the early years, but it’s also extremely rewarding to see the sisters so close,” she says.

“It’s incredibly hard work in the early years, but it’s also extremely rewarding to see the sisters so close.”

Whether you’re just starting your family, or if you’ve already have one child and planning for a second, you might have wondered ― is there an ideal age gap between kids? We’ve weighed the pros and cons.

Small age gap (under 2 years)

The older child is less likely to reject his sibling because he is too young to understand or even think about displacement issues or be territorial about his possessions.
* These “ready-made playmates” are likely to be close. They will share common interests, like similar things (no fighting to watch different cartoons), share the same group of friends, and play the same games. 
* As they are going through the same stages together, this means that hand-me-down clothes, toys and baby gear will still be “relatively new” for the younger sibling. Financially, this makes sense. 
* This also means getting rid of the clutter ASAP, without having to store it for years. Woohoo!
* The time you spend dealing with newborn issues like sleep deprivation is condensed. Plus, tips and tricks like how to swaddle or soothe are still fresh in your memory.
* Your older child develops patience and understanding at a faster rate, thanks to his newly-acquired status as an older sibling. He might even pick up new skills like feeding and changing himself independently, earlier than his peers.

It’s better for your career: If you intend to stay at home for the first few years of your children’s lives, it means that you’ll rejoin the workforce earlier.

* You might still need to carry your older toddler while you are pregnant. This can be uncomfortable and put even more stress on your back. 
* If your older child still wakes in the middle of the night, you’ll find that you won’t able to sleep much, even in the exhausting days of the first trimester. Plus, many consecutive years of sleep deprivation is sure to take its toll.
* If you fall pregnant again too soon, they may be health risks to you and your baby, as you may be deficient in important nutrients. Some of these risks include low birthweight and prematurity. You may even risk a uterine rupture if you had previously given birth via C-section. 
* There are studies that suggest that children born a year after their older sibling are three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism. 
* It may take its toll emotionally. You may feel like you are neglecting your older child, and that you haven’t had enough time with him before your baby arrives. 
*It will be financially challenging, as both your children will be at the diapering stage together, and will enter university at around the same time. 
* There will be sibling rivalry. Common interests mean that they are constantly vying for the same toys, books, friends, and even your attention.
* One sibling (usually the younger) may feel overshadowed by the other’s achievements and feel insecure.

Find out what are the pluses and minuses of siblings with a wider age gap…next!