Talking About: Age Gaps

4513 4513_ () 4513 4513 Answering a letter from the Inbox, reader Julie writes:

We recently found out we were expecting baby#5….however our youngest is just 7 months. We also have a 9, 7, and 4 year old. Our pattern for now is boy-girl-boy-girl…we’ll see if this one keeps up the pattern! Anyway, my question to you, oh wise one, is what was your tightest age gap and how do you suggest dealing with the sanity of such a tight gap…if you can even recall?

Thank you again for all you do to help us nutty Catholic moms laugh, love and learn!

Thanks for writing Julie! And congratulations on the new baby! Life is such a gift.

Our experience with age gaps here has been this: the first four boys were all 21 months apart. One boy every 21 months times four. Then we waited five years and had another boy. Then Isabel came along 2.9 years later.

So our shortest gap was 21 months and our longest was that five-and-a-half years which to be honest, was when I was fairly convinced that I would never recover from having so many little boys so close together and that was it for us. And then some time went by and I am so grateful for the wisdom of prayerfully considering another baby, using our wit and intellect. In other words, I’m so glad we didn’t make any sweeping actions to prevent ever having another baby after boy number four, because at that point in time I would have seriously considered it had I thought it an option. God changed my heart — and time helped a lot too.

So while we have not dealt with babies as close in age as you will, we have definitely had lots of littles at once. It’s a challenge. That’s the best I can say — just embrace that this season will be a unique challenge but remind yourself that you are up to the challenge! Honestly, so much of that season is a haze. Lots of hard work, embracing the season I was in and knowing that’s what it was — a season (though at the time I wasn’t too convinced things wouldn’t always be so “intense.”).

Anyone out there want to add any words of encouragement? If you’ve had little ones reeeeaaallly close together, what did you do to make life a little more peaceful? 4513″



  1. We have five; our oldest is 6 1/2, and our youngest is 3 months. The first four are all 18 months apart, and then there are 21 months between our 4th and 5th. I think the most helpful thing is to talk about the new baby with such enthusiasm that all the other kids get excited, too. My older 4 think that our littlest is the best thing ever. It’s going to be hard, but I’ll be honest: my husband and I both thought that the transitions going from a couple of 2 to a family of 3, from 3 to 4, and 4 to 5 were all difficult. Going from 5 to 6 didn’t feel like that big a deal, and 6 to 7 has just been fun. It seems overwhelming, but your 7-month-old will be almost a year and a half when your new one arrives, and it will be doable! May God richly bless you–and it looks as though He has and is!

  2. Maryclaire says

    Your post reminded me of our family years ago. We had twin boys when our oldest was 9. We also had a 7,5,,3,and an 18 month old. I thought “Hey, I can offer Julie some advice. I’ve been in her shoes. I have to be able to guide her with my great wisdom of having been there!” I can only come up with PRAY. Pray for God’s continued Mercy and amazing Grace. The Holy Spirit will be with you and will provide what’s needed of the moment.

  3. From one Julie to another: I have an 18yr old son. Five years after he was born, I had another son. In between them, I had a hard time getting pregnant and had a hard time holding onto a pregnancy, and had four miscarriages. When I had #2, I was satisfied and thought I was done. Six years later: Surprise, a baby girl! Loved having a baby again and decided to let nature take its course. 20 months later, another son was born–got pregnant right away and BIG surprise, less than a year later, another son, Irish twins. Now, they are 18, 13, 8, 6, and 5. The #1 thing I can say to you is: TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES. Have the camera on the kitchen counter at all times. I remember so much about my oldest son’s first five years, but the last three? Those years are a bit of a blur. I look at pictures of three in diapers and think…how did we do that? I know the house was always a mess and laundry was continuous. Sometimes, survival is the only goal. The physical work gets a bit easier as they get older, but it does get a little harder emotionally. But, when you think about sitting around the fireplace at Christmas when you are 65 and surrounded by many grandchildren, it will be worth all the chaos you endured! Good luck to you!

  4. I just had baby #5. my oldest is six and a half. My second and third children are only 16 months apart. So I hear you on the fear. When they are that close together it is hard. I had a three year old, a 16 month old and a newborn and we were living in a new town, we’d moved in about a week before I found out I was expecting so I had no support system set up. I’ve got to say when I hear you have a five and seven year old, I’m thinking, well, she’ll have it much easier. When my first three were little I’d have done anything to have a big kid or two to help out a bit. Just having someone who was a bit more rational and who could fill a sippy cup or make a sandwich would have felt like a life saver. But I know that’s not really helpful No matter what you’re comparing it to, where you are is going to feel hard. It’s going to be hard. You may have to let some of your standards go– even though you already think they are at rock bottom. The house might be a mess, the laundry not caught up or folded. I gave up on folding laundry after baby #4. I just got each kid a small basket and when I take the clothes out of the dryer I toss them into the baskets and then make each kid put their own clothes away. Go easy on yourself and remember it won’t last forever. If you feel a bit crazy, well, yeah it is crazy. But joyful too. I was afraid a 16 month old would resent a baby brother but she really loved him and was so sweet with him. and now that they are four and three they are the best of friends and play with each other all the time. There are some advantages of being close together and having a playmate is one of them. And I agree with Maryclaire. Pray, pray, pray.

  5. I had my first three in four years and the two boys were 15 months apart. A little less than three years later, we had number four. My main goal in life at that point was to have them all nap at the same and in bed at the same time. As long as I knew I had a bit of down time, I knew I could survive. Also, it was not unusal for me to put them all in the tub at the same time. It was often the most peaceful moments of my day. Everyone loved the bath – they were contained and clean…victory. Some days they took really, really long baths.

    In the summers, I took three non-swimmers to the pool almost every day. We’d get up, pack a lunch and get there when it opened at 10. We’d “swim” until 11:30 or 12 and then eat. I’d pack them up and pile them into one of the family showers at the pool. They’d all nap when we got home and by the time they were up, it was almost time to eat dinner. We were out of the house so it stayed clean. The water and sun gave them great appetites and helped them sleep soundly.

    The great thing about having kids close in age is that they have similar interests and abilities. No one needed to be entertained by me becasue they entertained each other. By the time our fourth child came, the others entertained him all the time.

    I agree with Rachel. Tell yourself it’s just a season and that you can do it. It is hard, no doubt, but it doesn’t last forever.

  6. Congratulations! At the time our youngest was born, our older children were 8, 6,4 and 2; boy, girl, boy, girl, and another boy. While that sounds nice and even, it really wasn’t. Our closest in age was 16 months (twice); our largest spread was just shy of 3 years. Yes, your life will become crazy, but the reward is unimaginable! My advice is live in the moment. Be organized, but don’t obsess over to-do lists because they will devour your time; be a planner, but also be able to wing-it. Remember as you’re changing yet another diaper that one day you really will miss the smiles and squirms that come with diaper changing; while your house may not look anything like Martha Stewart’s, appreciate the energy and excitement and noise your house has; and don’t think about “how” to get it all done, just keep doing your best and praying for guidance, and you will find that God is with you helping you raise His children. Also, don’t feel selfish about taking a little much-needed time for yourself now and then – when mama’s happy, everyone is happy!

  7. Thanks everyone for your encouraging words and wisdom!

  8. Praise the Lord for this beautiful new life! Congrats!
    My first 2 were 16 months apart, and then 2 more after them shortly followed. One thing that helped a TON for us was to have, if possible, a contained space that is babyproof. That way, when you’re feeding baby, bigger baby can play freely. For us it was a gated off living room. We also fenced off a small section of the yard.
    And obviously, get in the mindset to stay home a lot more – just having the right expectations is sometimes the difference between feeling like you’re winning not losing.
    God bless you!

  9. From yet another Julie… My boys are 15 months apart and I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes, of course those newborn days were hard (aren’t they always?) and having two babies at a time is a struggle, but it doesn’t last long. At this point (mine are 2.5 years and 16 months) my boys are great playmates and friends, and they have been for months. Furthermore, our older boy had a very easy adjustment to being an older brother, I think because he was too little to give it much thought. Good luck to you!

  10. Lovin’ all these comments! I have three kids, ages 2 1/2, 17 months, and 5 months, and I totally agree with the mommy who said try to get them all to nap and go to bed at the same time. The down time is what’s needed for this mommy’s sanity. Even if they aren’t actually napping in there, everyone’s having quiet time. For me, the hardest thing about pregnancy #3 was being so huge at the end and having the other two running around. Whew! Glad that’s done (although we’ll be trying for #4 in about two months!). Give yourself plenty of time to get stuff done & get where you need to be, clean as you go, and ENJOY those little treasures.