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Young toddler playing with baby doll

Now your first child is a toddler, you may be thinking about doing it all again with baby number 2! But there are some things you might want to consider first.

What’s the ideal age gap?

In the UK, most mums leave two to three years between births and many researchers agree that waiting 18 to 23 months after the birth of your last child before conceiving again seems best for the new baby’s – and your – health.

Tesco My Club member Lisa Mountford got pregnant again when her daughter Lily was two. “I didn’t want to leave too big a gap, but I didn’t feel ready any earlier,” she says. “Dealing with the demands of a toddler and a baby was really hard at first, and Lily was very jealous of Joe. She even bit his little toes when he was breastfeeding! But now Lily is five and Joe is three and they are best friends.”

Is a bigger age gap best?

Spacing children further apart – say three to four years – will let you give each child more individual attention and may reduce sibling rivalry. Mum Jacqui Green believes a bigger gap makes things easier: “I have three kids – a boy of six, and two girls aged three and two. It was easier to take care of my middle baby because my son was old enough to understand and to do some things for himself.” But other mums find having a new baby after a bigger gap a real shock too, so it’s really what works best for you.

What about the expense?

Financial considerations certainly have an impact as the total cost of raising a child to age 21 in a typical two-parent working household is now a whopping £218,024*! Can you afford to stay at home to look after a new baby, or to pay for the additional childcare if you go back to work? Leaving longer between children may give you time to get your finances under control; but having babies closer together could mean you’re back on the career ladder faster.

Will I love a second baby as much?

Rest assured, when the second baby arrives so will the love! For some mums, that surge of love is immediate, while for others it takes a little longer, especially if you’ve had a caesarean†. This is completely normal but if you have any concerns about bonding with your baby, talk to your GP, midwifery team or health visitor.

Having problems conceiving second time around?

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to choose the age gap. As midwife Zita West says: “Having problems conceiving a second baby is more common than you think, so don’t panic. On average, it takes 12-18 months for your body to get over birth. You also need to look at your lifestyle. With a toddler in the house, you’re likely to be tired, and sex probably won’t be top of your agenda! Also ask your GP to check for any underlying conditions, such as anaemia or thyroid problems. A caesarean and complications with a previous labour could affect conception, too.”

*Research from financial services company Liverpool Victoria, 2011.

†Bonding after birth article taken from NHS Choices.