As we were about to welcome our fifth baby I realized that, in addition to having a literal handful of children, I would also have five kids ages seven and under.
Within less than eight years, my body had grown, birthed, and nourished five little lives. While this still awes me, it can be overwhelming to realizing how many young children are looking to me to supply their needs.
Yet, every time I begin to feel anxious about whether it was a good decision to have our children close in age (or if the next trip away from home becomes the time I lose someone), I remind myself of the many benefits we’ve found having babies close in age.
Here are our top five reasons to have babies close in age.
Reason #1: Your Child Will Have a Built-in Friend
Having children close in age, especially less than two years apart, means older children won’t fully remember a time without their younger siblings.
Before you become teary-eyed wondering if they will miss out on time as an only child, remember that younger siblings don’t ever experience a time without other children around. Being surrounded by others is a natural part of life for younger siblings, and there’s nothing wrong with older ones always having memories of their brothers or sisters.
Having a built-in friend comes with lots of benefits. Kids close in age have similar interests and enjoy the same kinds of toys. They love playing, getting dressed, bathing, and following everyday routines together.
Reason #2: Your Children will Learn Social Skills at Home
The foundations of social skill development begin at home, through family interactions. For siblings close in age, social skills are learned easily throughout the course of your day.
Siblings will learn how to think of others' needs instead of just their own. Older children will adjust to taking care of baby’s needs by helping with baby’s care, spending time with parents while baby is feeding, and learning how to adjust to the changing world when baby begins to move.
As kids transition towards toddlerhood, everyday interactions such as sharing toys, asking for items, and using their words instead of crying become a basis for healthy interactions in preschool and beyond.
Reason #3: You’re Already in Baby Mode
When you have babies close in age, you’re already in baby mode. You’re used to needing to diaper and feed routinely (and have already budgeted for the costs associated with this). You know how to bathe baby and have established roles within your family of who does what.
You also have grown an impressive arsenal of parenting techniques, just-right for babyhood. You can calm fussy babies, have a good idea of what baby’s crying might mean, and remember how to cope with middle of the night feedings.
Reason #4: You Have All the Baby Gear
Having babies close in age means that you’ll be able to reuse baby gear before it has worn out or expired. Car seats, baby carriers, swings, and even high chairs were purchased recently and are able to be reused for your next baby.
Chances are you’ve even used your baby gear recently enough that preparing for baby only includes pulling it out, giving it a good wash, and double-checking expirations dates. You can rest assured that your biggest purchases for baby will be consumables, like diapers and wipes.
Reason #5: You’ve Perfected Your Daily Routine
Have multiple little ones at home means that you have some sort of daily routine. Mealtimes, snack times, and nap times typically occur simultaneously for all kids. You likely have independent play time, and your children have a sense of where they spend portions of their day.
Adding a baby to the family doesn’t necessarily change your family’s overall structure. While you may need to tweak something here or there, baby will join in the family’s routines from day one.
Before adding another little one to your family, make sure to spend some time perfecting your family’s routines so they work for you. Work on healthy sleep habits for your little ones, and make sure you have a sense of how to stay sane as a mom through the baby years.
Although you may not be ready to add five babies to your family today, hopefully this has provided some food for thought about when you'll be ready to start planning for your next little one.
Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.