If you want more than one child, it’s tempting to get a start on baby the second right away. After all, your knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth is still fresh, and your maternity wardrobe is still current. But you may also wonder, am I having another baby too soon? Because those cute little suckers can be super needy, and you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin.
In addition, when you’re considering adding another child to your family, you have to ask some hard questions. Taking an honest look at the additional strain on your time, finances, and energy levels is crucial. But like most family-related decisions, this is one call you have to make on your own. Some families welcome the rapid addition of new members, while other families need a little recovery time between the bambinos.
Even if you are already pregnant, there is likely time to help your family prepare for its rapid expansion. You have likely heard some variation of the idea that there is no perfect time to have a baby, and while this is true, you can certainly set the stage for your family to keep growing in a healthy, happy way. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when baby fever strikes again.
Of course the decision to have another child is impossible to distill down to just dollars and cents, but it pays to take a hard look at your finances. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's most recent Expenditures on Children by Families (2013), a 0- to 2-year-old child costs an average of $12,940 per year. Although a second child may not incur quite as many costs as the first — you can reuse the crib and stroller, for instance — there is no way to get around the need to purchase other necessities, such as diapers. Take a good look at your current financial state, as well as your plans for sending the kid(s) to college and retirement. Overwhelmed? This might be a good time to work with a financial planner.
Pregnancy takes a pretty heavy toll on your body, and you probably need ample time to recover. In addition, having pregnancies in quick succession could affect your second child's health. As An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found in 2014, pregnancies that are spaced less than 18 months apart put the next baby at a substantially higher risk of preterm birth. A serious talk with your OB might help determine your ideal time to try for a second baby.
Time is the most finite resource of all (but as a parent, you are more aware of this fact than most people). As Parents notes, you will still have to make time for proper pregnancy nutrition and cope with morning sickness all while caring for another baby or toddler. And then you will have the challenge of feeding a newborn and parenting your first child at the same time. It may be a good time to take a serious look at your schedule.
While child care costs may vary greatly depending on your location, it is probably a rather significant expense wherever you live. As the 2014 Child Care Aware of America’s Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report found, costs of care can run around $14,508 per year for an infant. If you are currently paying for child care, be prepared to double those expenses.
Are your plans to be a SAHM to both kids, or do you have a strong desire to get back to the office? That second child may be a game-changer. As the Daily Mail reported on a study from psychologist Dr. Diane Houston, "three-quarters of women return to at least part-time work after their first baby, [and] half drop out of the workplace completely once they have two young children." The study also found that this problem was exacerbated by having two children in quick succession.
Are you and your SO reveling in your roles as new parents, or are you constantly fighting? Are you going to be a single parent to both children? Whatever your family situation, you need to think critically about the impact the second child will really have. As clinical psychologist Samantha Rodman Ph.D. said in the Huffington Post, "the time immediately following the birth of the second child is usually so hard on marriages." It makes sense to make sure you and your partner are ready for another major life change.
Are you prepared for the reality of managing two very young children at the same time? As a piece in the New York Times explained, the second child makes scheduling activities, sleeping, or even leaving the house exponentially more difficult. But it may also mean doubling the love you feel for your first child.