Prince George's new sibling: What's the best spacing between children?

By Sasha Emmons

There are four-and-a-half years between my two children. I didn’t exactly plan it that way; in fact, I was hoping for a much smaller gap. But there are advantages; by the time I brought home baby number two, my oldest was at school much of the day, making those first few weeks much easier. Also, I’d had enough of a break from infanthood that it was total bliss to go there again.

As my family shows, you can’t always choose how far apart your kids will be. Even if you get lucky with your ideal timing, it’s a highly personal decision, likely to be different for every family, even a royal one.

George is always the perfect prince in public – he only pulled a face once, at a polo match in Cirencester Park. Photo: Getty Images

If all goes according to plan, Kate and William’s children will be about 21 months apart. Many parents opt for this close spacing in the hopes that their kids will grow up to be close friends and playmates. This would be especially important for royal siblings, who will need each other’s support to deal with the unique stresses of being in the public eye.

From a health perspective, it’s optimal to wait 18 months to two years between pregnancies. Studies show that babies conceived within six months of a delivery have a greater chance of being born prematurely or having low birth weight.

From the mother’s perspective, there’s also increased risk for pregnancy complications such as anemia or the mom-to-be’s water breaking too early if babies are spaced too closely together.

Prince Charles, Princess Diana and William and Harry in 1986. Separated by just over two years, the young princes were close from the start. Photo: Getty Images

However, a woman’s fertility generally begins to fall in her early to mid-30s, according to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Kate, who is 33, is well below what doctors call advanced maternal age, when pregnancy can get more complicated.

Beyond the medical pros and cons, the thinking for many parents of two-under-two is that you get through the discomforts of pregnancy (and for poor Kate, severe morning sickness), sleepless nights and diapers in one go. You aren’t torn between big kid and little kid stages; you know the best way to potty train because you were just doing it not that long ago. For Kate, having two babies in quick succession likely means the pressure to have kids is off after this delivery.

Whatever the timing between kids, most parents end up saying they can’t imagine it any other way. No doubt William and Kate will feel the same.

- Sasha Emmons, editor-in-chief of Today's Parent

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