Is there ever a right time to have a second baby? Depending on how your initial introduction to parenting went, having a second baby may feel like impending doom or an exciting addition.
Of course, there’s not just you to think about. There’s Dad, baby #1 and any disgruntled furry family members who have had to take back seat since your first bundle of joy arrived. Distant memories of conversations long gone by when you and hubby had the ‘at least 3 kids if not 4’ talks come flooding back.
Knowing when to have a second baby (if at all) can be an interesting topic of conversation for all.
When Baby #1 Was A Dream
My baby #1 was a dream baby. Sure, he had his fussy time between 4.30 pm and 6 pm and he loved to be held all the time (especially at restaurants, of course!). But aside from that, he was an absolute joy.
“I’m ready for another baby!” I proudly announced to my wide-eyed husband a couple of months after his birth. I loved being on maternity leave. I adored my new life rhythm of hanging out with my adorable son, especially when he cranked out a 3-hour nap mid-afternoon.
The Potential Downsides
Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be an ideal time to expand your family. A study of 86 financially and geographically diverse couples conducted by a Dr. Kathy Weingarten revealed that the only shared theme amongst all 86 couples was that the second child did introduce an era of increased stress in their marriage.
With that being said, here are some questions to consider before you begin working on a second baby.
#1 Do you and your partner like being parents?
It sounds like such a rudimentary question to ask yourself, but if either of you finds yourselves going through the parental motions with a certain degree of unhappiness, perhaps one child may be enough. If you don’t enjoy endless sleep disturbances, baby barf, spending time with a baby in general or even being pregnant, then it’s time to consider that your first baby should maybe be your last.
#2 Are you a happy pregnant person?
I’ll be the first one to ‘fess up to being absolutely miserable while pregnant. I was one of those people who felt like I had the worlds worst hangover during the first trimester. If you happen to share Kate Middleton’s plight of severe morning sickness then you must ask yourself if you are mentally able to go through it all again. While yes, these symptoms are only temporary and the end result is a beautiful baby, the ripples of discord that affect your marriage can be felt for years after the baby is born.
#3 Can you and your partner handle being like passing ships in the night (and day)?
Having your first baby can bring couples closer as everyone wants to be there to watch all the developmental stages. Nobody can bear to miss the first bath, the first noises, even the first poopy diaper! The novelty most definitely wears off for the second baby.
At that point, you and your partner have no choice but to divide and conquer. Your first child needs more attention than ever and your newborn needs to be close to Mom for months. Try to remember those first few months when your new baby needs you the most during the initial stages of breast-feeding.
#4 Will your first child welcome the new addition?
It’s always difficult to predict how baby #1 will react to a new addition, but if you are dealing with a strong-willed first-born who has only known life with you and Dad, perhaps it’s time to consider adding an extra year or two of spacing between the babies? At least if your oldest can have a conversation with you, you will be able to explain what’s happening and why you need to attend to your second baby.
#5 Can you afford two children?
I suspect that for the majority of people, this topic isn’t discussed too much. After all, your home is probably already filled with baby gear and clothing so you can always re-use what you already have. However, always consider the ‘what ifs.'
Do you have sufficient health insurance to cover both children in the event of chronic illness? Do you have sufficient savings if for some reason you cannot return to work after the birth of your second baby? While these topics can be sensitive, it’s always worth having them.
#6 Do you and your partner have enough love and attention for a second baby AND for each other?
At the end of the day, there has to be enough to go around for everyone to have their needs met. If you’ve gone past baby #1’s second birthday and he or she is still sleeping in your bed most nights or vice versa then before you add another human into the mix, perhaps it’s time to straighten out some bad habits.
There is no perfect family out there nor an absolute answer on whether or not to have a second baby and when that might happen. Trust your gut, talk to your partner and make the best decisions for your family together.