Science recommends 18 to 24 months between babies

Q: I do not think that anything has brought as much joy to my life as did the birth of our first child. She is absolutely adorable.

Both my girlfriend and I spend as much time as we can with our little girl and we take her just about everywhere we can.

Naturally, our thoughts are turning to another child — we would like to have more kids, if than for no other reason that my mother is always telling me that you have not really parented until you have had more than one child.

She is probably right (she usually is), but aside from that, both my girlfriend and I believe that it is within the best interests of our little girl for her to have a brother or a sister.

The question for us is when? When is it best to have another baby? Should we do this right away or would it be best to wait for a while? We have asked a lot of people and of course we get conflicting messages.

We are interested in what your take on this is. When should we consider having another child?

A: As you might expect, our wonderful research teams have done a number of explorations on when best to have that next baby.

They have come up with some pretty good suggestions, but I want to caution you before we get into those discussions. You need to remember that pregnancies are always hit and miss. Having a moment in intimacy does not guarantee fertilization, no matter how passionate the encounter.

Nature alone will decide which encounter will result in pregnancy. All that you can really do is have some fun trying. If your pregnancies do not fall within the guidelines of our recommendations, they can still result in healthy and happy babies.

According to the guidelines put forward by the Mayo Clinic, it is best to wait for 18 to 24 months to have the next pregnancy. Children conceived within six months of the birth of the previous child may well be premature, have low weight and be susceptible to various congenital disorders including some risk for psychiatric disabilities.

Moms are at greater risk too. We sometimes forget that a pregnancy is a huge moment of trauma for mom’s body. Often as not moms need a little more time to recuperate from the delivery. The healthier she is, the better are the odds that she will successfully carry another fetus.

As you might suspect, problems can be found at the other end as well. Sometimes people wait too long for their next child. If mom waits for more than five years to have the next child, both she and the baby are at risk for high blood pressure and perhaps damage to other internal organs. It is best to try for the next child a little earlier than the magic of five years.

Whatever is the spacing between your children, remember that each of them is an individual and should be treated as such. Sometimes it is cute to dress children up the same or to treat them alike, but your children are not replicates of each other and what is good and wonderful for one child is not necessarily terrific for the next one.

All of your children have a right to strike their own bargains with the world and to pursue that which gives them their own individual identities.

It is your job to give each of them the opportunities they need to do so.

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