On celebrity baby booms, sibling age gaps and second babies

November 13, 2012

What's the best baby age gap?No-one was more surprised than me to be interested in some news about none other than Peaches Geldof yesterday. She’s pregnant with her second child – a boy they’ve already named Phadera (?) – and there will be 13 months between the two. Last week Sophie Dahl announced that she is expecting again, and of course the lovely Lily Allen, pregnant with her first baby at the same time as me, is due with her second in December.

This is not just of interest because of my love for inane celebrity gossip – although there is that – but because a second baby is something that’s been on the periphery of my mind recently. Eliza’s not even one and people are already starting to ask about when we’re having another (although the first time was mere weeks after she was born, when my consultant asked if we were planning on doing what a lot of people do and trying again within six months. I think my aghast postnatal expression said it all).

I loved being pregnant and we very much want another baby at some point, but at the moment I’m still acclimatising to being able to drink more than a tiny glass of wine, fit into all my nice clothes and having a bit of normality back. A second baby seems to be a big step; according to the wisdom of the Grandmas, who have seven children between them, the hardest leap is from one to two. At a party recently, I asked a mum of two what it was like, and the response I got was ‘Ooh, it’s hard’ followed by a look. I recognised that look as being the same one I give to pregnant mums who ask about childbirth, when I tell them ‘It’s absolutely fine!’ So it must be pretty tough, right?

Though do we need to be more mindful of the gap? We’d always thought two years seemed pretty reasonable but for that we’d have to start trying next spring, which seems awfully soon. We’re at the stage now where Eliza is really fun and playful and we’re only beginning to get to know her. It is best to have a longer gap and space it out, or have babies closer together, when you’re already used to no sleep?

I’m not sure there’s ever a right answer – is there? – and different things work for different people and it’s all down to very personal choices. Indeed we’d be lucky for it to happen at all, and considering how long it took last time, I’m not sure we can really plan on planning. For now, people can ask away, but we are in no rush, especially as for us it will require more big lifestyle changes and a house move. So in response to that question, for the moment I think we’ll leave it to the celebrities.


  • Muddling Along

    November 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    We had a small gap (18 months) and it nearly killed us

    I think you’ll know when you feel ready and wait until then – we were worried it would take us as long the 2nd time as the 1st and it didn’t… so maybe the same will happen for you

    1. gillian

      November 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      That’s great advice, thank you – I really clearly knew when I was ready for the 1st so imagine I’ll feel the same about the second! And so true, we have no way of predicting how long it will take.

  • shirley Edwards

    November 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    It depends on the two parents and the placidity of the baby, personally I tried around the second birthday giving a three year gap which has turned out good for us

    1. gillian

      November 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Very true – I guess there’s lots of benefits to a bigger gap (but also of a smaller gap!)

  • Cat

    November 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    We have almost exactly two years – there are pluses and minuses. The minuses are definitely the lack of sleep and the fact that you feel the oldest still needs you when you have to give a lot more attention to the baby.
    Pluses are the fact that they are already playing (and fighting) together, and the fact that the “baby phase” will be over sooner (nappies, playgroups, etc).
    Thing is, it will always depend on the personality of each child – some older siblings definitely seem “ready” for a playmate, while others resent no longer being the baby in the house.
    One thing to consider might be work – and how it might work for your role having two sets of maternity leave relatively close together, or a bit more spaced out (and therefore you are able to reestablish yourself and get promoted quicker again, etc).
    Also there are the best laid plans…we had planned a three year gap, and started trying sooner as the first baby had taken a couple of years to come along. Pouf! First time lucky second time around… 😉

  • PhotoPuddle

    November 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    We have three and a half years between ours which is exactly what I always wanted. This might seem like a big gap to some but for me it’s worked out perfectly. I thin, you just know when the time is right.

    1. gillian

      November 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      There’s three and three and a half years between and my two brothers, which always seemed like a good gap growing up (although it was was we were used to!) I knew pretty much when it was right to try for our first baby, so hopefully we’ll feel the same with the second xx.

  • josie

    November 16, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I can’t understand this at all! Antonio and I say all the time that one’s enough right? Or a 5 year age gap is fine! Personally I would never want two children so close in age, mainly because I would fine it too stressful. There 3.5 years between me and my sister and my mum said that was hard enough.

    p.s I’m a fan of celebrity gossip too. I don’t know why, I just love it.

    1. gillian

      November 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      It would be really stressful, wouldn’t it – although on a good day here (when everyone’s slept OK and in good moods) I think it would be fine, but then on a bad day (when I’ve not slept properly in weeks, during teething etc etc) I find it hard enough to cope with one, let alone another! Hopefully we’ll know one way or another when the time is right…x

  • Jess

    November 17, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Funny. My parents always claims the biggest difference was going from two to three. Then again, my parents have always both been self-employed so both around. They said the biggest thing was being outnumbered with three of “us” vs two of them.

    I think there’s never a right time, as there is with any of these things. Too many variables to judge. I’m the eldest of four, we were all born within six years of each other. And it’s wicked, but I wouldn’t know it any other way…

  • Cathy

    November 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I’ve wanted a second baby since the moment my first was born. Longer, probably. I have always thought of her as one of a pair. In fact I hoped she was twins 🙂

    I was hoping for a 15-18 month age gap between children.

    Unfortunately baby number two is proving more elusive than number one and the 18-month age gap point has been and gone with no action in the uterine department. We’re looking at more of a 21 month-two year age gap if I am lucky enough to get pregnant within the next few months.

    I don’t know why but this feels like a far bigger age gap than we’d personally wanted. I’d hoped for a small age gap for a few reasons; easier on the first child to adapt to the second child, quite keen to get all the pregnancy/newborn stuff over and done with in the space of a few years, easier to find activities both children enjoy when they’re a bit older, less chance of jealousy between siblings (although this depends upon personality), less distance between siblings meaning better chance of close relationship (again, also depends on personality). I have no statistical basis for these assertions, but they make sense to me. There’s 15 months between my brother and I and our relationship is probably one of the most defining of my life. We’ve been best friends our whole lives, we were a little gang of our own through our childhood, and the short age gap meant we experienced many things together or within a year or so of one another, which added to our closeness.

    I really wanted that close bond with a sibling for my daughter too.

    Still, you can’t plan everything.

    My cousin has just 11 months between her children. 11 MONTHS!!!! They’re thick as thieves now (they’re 8 and 9) but god, imagine that. 11 ruddy months!

  • Kate on Thin Ice

    November 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    As you put across nicely, individual decision for individuals.
    I will add that I found two under two so very tough. Partly because I got post-natal depression but not just that. The practicalities of sterilising bottles whilst potty training all at the same time is quite a feat for example.
    For me, I think how we did it between number one and number two worked best so 3 years. By then the 3 year old will co-operate and help by bringing baby wipes or whatever. But there are not right answers, only the right ones for you.
    I love how you are honest about enjoying your celebrity gossip.

  • Candid Mum

    November 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    My 1st 2 are 2 years apart. No 3 came 6 years later (so she’s 8 yrs younger than my eldest).

    Benefit of closeness: you get all the baby stress out of the way in one crazy 5/6 years. You do manage, just like you manage with your first. It was quite daunting getting pregnant when I was through all that, and thinking “argh, I’ve got to do it all again”.

    Cons of closeness: they fight.

    Benefit of a gap: babysitting! I can ask the older ones to look after the little one at the park etc.

    Cons of big gap: hard to find age appropriate things that suit all of them. 12yo now too big for soft play.

    Hope this helps? My advice – go with flow and don’t worry about it! x

  • Circus Queen

    November 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I’ve blogged about this maybe a few times and the response I’ve always had is that whatever gap you end up with is the one that’s right for your family. My brother and I have 14 months between us and I think that was really hard on our parents in the early years. At the same time, my mother loves that we were so close developmentally. We’ve grown up enjoying similar stuff and having the same friends – we still do. That’s not just down to age though. We’re compatible personalities.

    At first I wanted a two-year age gap then I said three and now I’m back to…ah, whenever. Of course if I were to get pregnant now it would be a two-year age gap so whatever happens it’s not going to be anywhere near as hectic as it was for my mum.

  • Sarah

    November 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    We had 28 months between the first two and 29 months between second and third. That felt about right, but doing it twice over was hard! I once read that midwives recommend 24-35 months between children and 19 and 25 months between pregnancies, so we ticked the right boxes! Good luck with it, you will know when the time is right for you. I found you on MBPW.

  • farfromhomemama

    November 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    There’ll be two years and three months between my two when the second is born in Jan. For us, this feels right although we’re very conscious of how hard the juggling is going to be. Given all the time and reassurances in the world, maybe we would have left it a little longer between the two but for medical reasons (and also because at 36, I personally feel a little on the older side for children) we decided to bite the bullet and go for it. We can sleep in 20 years time 🙂

  • Workingberlinmum

    November 19, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I don’t think there is a right answer either and I can see pluses and minuses on both sides, whether you leave a bit of a gap between children or choose to have them close together. What I can say is that dealing with the terrible two’s whilst pregnant would be horrendous and I am thankful that I am expecting my No. 2 in January by which point my boy will be almost 4. It means he is at an age where I can explain far more to him and he can understand, he has more patience then he did a year ago and the tantrums are much fewer and further between. I don’t know how people manage with having two so close together!!!

  • Lynn @ More4mums

    November 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I was writing about this over on my blog this week as well. There is no “right” answer as people say. It all depends on your circumstances, your age etc You need to do what is right for you x


  • Sarah Stimson

    February 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I am coming to this post late but I just wanted to add that for some people there is no choice about when they have a second and it’s not possible to plan. It took me five years to conceive our first (who is now ten months) and we have not been using contraception since he was born because we know from experience – it can take some time. I am 38, so time is ticking away. I also know of other women who waited to have a second, and then found they had secondary infertility issues. So if parents can plan, that’s great, but don’t wait *too* long.

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