Large age gap between siblings: what to expect

By Young Parents   — June 25, 2015
  • A new baby after 7 years
    1 / 5 A new baby after 7 years

    Dealing with the arrival of a new baby in the family is quite different when your kid is older – it’s usually easier!

    The jealousy and rivalry that is typical of a two-year old, who has just learnt that she has a new brother or sister, is typically much less or even non-existent in a child in primary school. 

    There are a few reasons why the appearance of a baby sibling creates fewer psychological ripples when the age gap is large.

    First, your older child has an established routine with school, friends and leisure activities, which is unlikely to be altered by the new baby. Of course, there may be a few days of upheaval around the birth, but you primary schooler’s life goes on much the same.

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  • Older child is more independent
    2 / 5 Older child is more independent

    Second, a large age gap means she doesn’t feel threatened by the presence of a younger brother or sister:

    The baby isn’t going to take her big sister’s toys! And chances are, your older child is quite happy that you spend lots of time caring for the little one (which gives her more privacy), as long as she can get your attention when she wants it.

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  • More time together
    3 / 5 More time together

    There are also practical benefits of having such a large age gap. Your older child is at school for most of the day and probably has after-school activities or tuition.

    This allows you to have lots of one-on-one time with your new arrival.

    Compare that with having an attention-seeking toddler beside you all day. To a certain extent, the large age gap will make it seem like you’re having your first baby all over again.

    If you have kept any of your older child’s clothes and toys in good condition, you’ll be able to give them to your baby without any complaints from her big sister.

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  • It’s been a while
    4 / 5 It’s been a while

    A potential disadvantage of a large age gap is that your baby care skills might be a little rusty! It’s not that you don’t know how to look after a young infant, it’s just that you haven’t done it in some time. 

    In addition, you are used to managing an older child who is mostly independent. You will probably need time to adjust to the reappearance of a baby at home, though it will all come back to you quickly.

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  • Rope her in
    5 / 5 Rope her in

    Try to get your older child involved with her younger sibling. For instance, she can play with the baby, or help you with bathing and dressing her. At her age, she is capable of making a positive contribution.

    Getting her connected with these physical activities helps strengthen the connection between siblings.

    Likewise, your older one can show off the baby to visitors, particularly in the early weeks when everyone comes round to see the new arrival.

    Make sure, however, that you have time alone with your older child. She still needs your attention, despite her increasing independence. S

    et aside at least five or 10 minutes every day just to be with her, when her sibling is asleep or is being cared for by the maid. Your older child will not resent the new baby if her emotional and psychological needs continue to be met by you in this way.

     

    (Photo: feverpitched/123RF.com)

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