7 Things to Know About Having Kids Close in Age

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My kids are sixteen months apart. At the time, having kids close in age sounded like a great idea. Our daughter was an angel baby, and we said, “Let’s do it again!” So we did, and then the reality of raising a very young toddler and a newborn hit us as hard as a brick to the face – for a little while, at least. Now it’s pretty great. Just as there are pros and cons to spacing kids far apart, there are pros and cons to condensing the child-rearing years, too. Here’s what to expect.

You’ll be asked if the pregnancy was planned. 

I remember visiting my former co-workers with my nine-month-old daughter and announcing that I was pregnant again. There were audible gasps, and one woman immediately blurted out, “Was it planned?” Her reaction made sense. My first child was still a baby, and I was knocked up again? Surely, this was a mistake. 

The older one will seem really big once the baby arrives.

With our newborn in the house, our sixteen month old seemed so big, so capable, so mature. But she wasn’t. She was still a baby herself, and I had to continually re-set my expectations for her.

You’ll still forget stuff about the baby stage.

On a much needed wine tasting trip

The spit up – oh, the spit up. I thought all the details of having a baby would be fresh in my mind, since, you know, I’d just had one, but it’s amazing how quickly the ins and outs of daily life with a baby were replaced by my life with a toddler.

You will have a triple whammy of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion for the first two-ish years.

Babies are physically demanding. They interrupt our sleep (a lot). We have to lug around heavy car seats and gear for them and just when we’re ready to head out the door, their surprise blow out diapers require immediate attention.

They’re also emotionally draining. Why aren’t you sleeping? Why are you crying? What’s the matter? They can’t tell us with words, so we live with a constant undercurrent of stress, worrying that we’re not meeting their needs as well as we should.

Toddlers’ physical and emotional needs are just as high as infants for different reasons, and you’ll be dealing with them all at the same time as the baby stuff. The cherry on top is the mental energy you’ll expend with your toddler. It feels as taxing as a game of chess with Bobby Fischer. Every day I repeatedly answered questions like, “What’s that?” and “Why?” while also strategically planning how to avoid meltdowns or deftly handle the ones that did occur.

People will ask if they’re twins.

As my son became a toddler himself, my kids looked more and more alike, sitting in their double stroller together. I still field the twin question daily, and my kids have heard my response so often that they answer for me now, “No, we’re just close in age!” 

You’ll eventually treat them like twins.

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In a lot of ways, my kids do feel like twins now, and my parents, who raised my twin brothers, agree. We’ve always needed two of everything: two cribs, two sets of diapers, two sets of bottles and sippy cups. We have a double stroller, two car seats, and two booster seats. 

We also tend to treat them the same in many ways, blending some of their milestones. We bought them scooters at the same time and we’ll get them bikes together. My daughter wore pull-ups at night way longer than she needed to because I didn’t see a compelling reason to rock the boat until my son was ready to be out of them, too. Similarly, my son dropped his last nap earlier than he should have because it was easier for all of us not to be slaves to his sleep schedule.

Life becomes streamlined as they get older.  

Helping Toddlers Grow Emotionally

At first, I was simultaneously managing the most complicated elements of baby life and toddler life, but now that they’re three and four years old their schedules and needs align pretty effortlessly. They go to school together and they’re old enough to participate in the same activities. They play with the same toys, watch the same shows, and are built-in playmates. In fact, the only reason I’m able to write this article now is that the kids are entertaining themselves.

We front-loaded the chaos and challenges of the early years by having kids close in age, and it was worth it, but however you choose to plan (or not plan) your family, it will be perfect for you.

13 COMMENTS

  1. It’s like I wrote this article! 16 months apart and they are 3 and 4 now. It was definitely challenging in the beginning but they quickly got in sync and are two peas in a pod. Now we’ve thrown a 10 month old into the mix so things are crazy again!

  2. Yes! I have three girls. #1 and #2 are 19 months apart, Girl #3 was born 5 weeks before #1 turned 3. That’s right 3 kinds in 35 months. Now that they are 7.5, 5 and 4.5, I am thankful they are so close. However, ask me again when I have 3 in high school then college.

    • Wow! What a whirlwind, but they’re all at such great ages now. And, yes, high school and college will be a whole new chapter of childrearing close-in-age kids. Good luck!

  3. My girls are one year, one hour and 19 minutes apart….yes the same day just a different year!
    It wasn’t planned, sometimes they drive me crazy but they are fantastic and I wouldn’t change it for all of the sleep. 🙂
    Seems to run in my family though, my siblings and I are four kids in 4.5 years, no multiples. My niece and nephew are a year and four days apart. My sister will have another kiddo in August, that’ll be three kids under 4 years old.

  4. I loved this article!! Mine are also 16months apart boy first then came our girl. Now they’re 4 & 3 and I’m 6months pregnant with number 3. It was very hard but has slowly gotten easier. They give me a run for my money but for the most part we’ve adapted and learned how to deal with their antics. I do feel like my oldest has had it harder than his sister since he is crowned with the title (big brother) although in actuality he himself was just a little guy the whole time. Now that they’ve started school we decided to throw a curve ball and add to our little pack. :)~

  5. My kids are 11 months, 5 days apart. We’re moving into 19 months and 8 months this week. Yeah, we’re always tired, but they are sooooo sweet with each other and are practically joined at the hip and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We know we’re in for them making plots, etc, but for them to be such dear friends it’s going to be worth it. My sister will have babies that are 17 months apart when her second comes in August, and we were just visiting last week and her daughter, who just turned one, only just saw my oldest last year when she was a few weeks and just met my baby this year. So she didn’t know her grandparents had other grandchildren. She was so jealous of them being held that it made me so extremely glad all over again that mine are so close in age that we literally never had a jealous phase

  6. My kids are 16 months and 2 and 1/2. 15 months and 28 days apart. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this. I saved this so I can refer to it when I need to look on the bright side. Life can be so hectic and I look forward to the days when I’m not in a whirlwind of arguments and chaos. Thank you for sharing your story. ❤️

    • You made my day, Chandra. I’m so glad you found the post helpful, and I know that the light at the end of your “early days” tunnel will be bright and full of joy!

  7. Thank you for the good read! I am very nervous as I’m pregnant with #4 at only 22 years old! Yep you read that right! Baby #3 is going to be 15 months older than baby #4. I’m very nervous. I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old also. When baby is born I’ll have a 1 year old, 2 almost 3 year old and a 5 year old!

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