Trying to decide if you want to have another baby can be a very difficult decision. It involves so many people’s thoughts and feelings: one or two parents, and the child(ren) already in the family. It’s impossible to say exactly how a second (or third, or fourth) child will change a family, but there are some things to consider that may help guide your decision-making process.
Consider Everyone's Feelings
Babies smell good and they're super cuddly. Just being around a sweet newborn can be intoxicating. But, when the newness wears off, that's when reality hits. You've got to be on duty at all hours, walk the floor with a screaming baby, stay elbow-deep in dirty diapers, and revolve your schedule around your baby's. Take some time to evaluate how you and the rest of your family feel about that possibility.
Having a new baby is starting all over again. Every phase you loved, and some you weren't that crazy about, restart. If you have more than one child to take care of, parent burnout could be on the horizon. However, consider too that babies are not babies forever; the newborn stage can be grueling, but it does come to an end. When thinking about having another baby, you’re really thinking about having another child.
Additionally, you're older now. It may be more difficult to get pregnant, and if you're over 35, the risks of pregnancy problems and miscarriage may be higher. It's possible that you may require fertility treatments or experience complications.
Remember the good things about having a baby. Also remember the effects of postpartum recovery, exhaustion, and the stress of taking care of a baby. Yes, babies are wonderful, but you have to decide if you're up for the challenges they bring at least one more time.
Your Partner's Feelings
If you have a partner, your relationship can feel strained if their head and heart aren't in the same place as yours about whether or not to expand your family. Instead of trying to please the other with a decision you don't feel good about or vice versa, step back from the situation and give it time.
Talk to each other about why you want or don't want another child. See if you can come up with a compromise, such as revisiting the conversation in a few months or setting a date in a year or two when you'll start trying to conceive. The more honest you both are and the more you communicate, the easier your decision may become.
Your Child's Feelings
A 7-year-old only child may be terrifically excited about you having a second baby, or they may feel jealous or betrayed. They may even feel both emotions. On the other hand, a toddler may not have yet grasped the notion that they are the top dog. They may adjust to a new sibling beautifully, or they may act out trying to get your attention.
Even if you have an inkling about how your child will feel, ultimately, it’s impossible to predict exactly how a child will respond to a new sibling. But you can consider, for instance, if they ask for a sibling or if they enjoy interacting with younger cousins or friends. However, even if they don't seem interested in babies or toddlers, they may still react well to having a sibling of their own.
Think About Logistics
Having a baby really does change everything. That doesn't just apply to your first child. The associated costs, the size of your home, and your family dynamics are all things to consider when contemplating another child.
Can We Afford Another Baby?
The costs of raising a child rise each year. Aside from long-term expenses, a baby brings short-term costs too—co-pays, insurance deductibles, hospital bills, prescriptions, diapers, and whatever baby gear or clothes you don't have left over from your older children. These costs can add up quickly, especially if you've already been squeezing every cent out of your household income.
Evaluating the family budget may seem like an unfair exercise when you're considering having a child. However, knowing the numbers can help you decide whether you're financially ready for another baby now, or whether you should wait a year or so to reevaluate your finances.
Can We Accommodate Another Child?
Adding another member to your household could require some physical changes. You may have to lose that home office or guest room or have your kids share a bedroom. You may have to buy a double stroller so both of your children can ride at the same time.
Your car's backseat will need to have room for two or more little bodies secured in bulky car seats. The tiny eat-in kitchen that was perfect for a trio will have to make room for a high chair and, eventually, a regular chair for your younger child.
As with the budget, these are not necessarily reasons to decide against having another baby. They are just potential changes to think through so they're not a shock when you see the two pink lines on a pregnancy test.
How Will Our Lifestyle Change?
As your firstborn grows, you gain a little more freedom. When a second baby comes along, you're back to square one—except you've also got an older child (or more) to care for at the same time. Getting up and going somewhere isn't as easy as it once was. Add a third or fourth child (or more), especially if they're close in age, and you may just have your hands too full.
Your ability to travel will probably change. Even trips around town may feel like an ordeal. It can be harder to dine at a restaurant or get a babysitter. Many of the changes are subtle, but they're still something to consider. Note though that people often rise to the occasion and adjust as their parenting demands change in ways they may never have expected when only taking care of one child.
How Will Another Child Change Our Family?
If you're going from one child to two, that 100% focus on your firstborn will now be divided. At first, that shift in time will be in the baby's favor because you'll constantly be changing diapers and feeding the baby. And when you do have a free moment to play with your first child, all you'll want to do is sleep.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to take care of the needs of two kids in the same 24 hours you've always had. Even with the most helpful caregivers, family members, and friends, you'll need an adjustment period to being parents of two.
Eventually, your time will swing back to a more even balance between your children. But your family dynamic will undoubtedly change. Remember though that your family dynamic will always be in flux, whether or not you have another child, as life invariably brings changes—planned or not—along the way.
Evaluate the Reasons
Ask yourself why you want another baby. Do you want your first child to have a sibling? Do you love nurturing a young mind and body? Do you have a sense that the empty chair at your table should have someone else sitting there? Do you feel pressure to have another baby? Are you worried this might be your last chance before you get too old?
You may be flooding yourself with questions about why you do or don't want another baby. When it comes down to it, think about your primary reason for wanting to have another baby (or not wanting another child).
Once you pull this primary reason out from within, you'll often be able to answer your should I/shouldn't I question. That number one reason will say a lot about where you are right now in life and how you want to raise your family.
We often think of how our lives would be if we added something to them. It's also a good idea to think about your life if you didn't add something, another person, to your family. You may feel like your family is complete with one child or you may feel like someone you haven't met yet is missing.
This simple question can reveal a range of emotions, from potential regret to relief. Explore these emotions, because they can give you a candid look at how you really feel about having another baby.
Do a Gut Check
Bottom line: Do you want to have another baby? It's the most important question to ask, and it requires a completely honest answer.
Pressure from your partner, friends, family, or society to give your child a sibling, trying to save a marriage, and/or a ticking fertility clock may sway you into thinking you want to have a baby even if you might not. Or the reverse could be true—everyone around you could be telling you that you should be satisfied with your family as is. Aim to strip away any outside influences and give yourself a gut check. Do you want to have another child?
There is no right or wrong answer. Every family is unique. Your decision to raise one child or a house full of kids is what's right for you and your family.