Baby Number 4: The Pros and Cons of Having a Fourth Baby

Hello and welcome. So you are wondering whether you should have baby number 4? Or perhaps you have just discovered that you are already pregnant with your fourth baby? Whatever the case, you have come to the right place to read lots of stories and advice from other mums. So settle in with a cup of tea and let’s dive into the pros and cons of having baby number four.

We start by acknowledging that everyone has different experiences in life and that there are no hard and fast rules and no blacks and whites in any questions around being a parent. What is right for you might not work at all for someone else. But still, I always find that when I read a variety of experiences, there’s always something to learn and something to make me think about my own situation in another way.

baby number 4 means four times the fun four kids look at camera
Four kids definitely means you have a big family!

Baby Number 4 – Why I’m Qualified to Write About This

by Seana Smith

seana + 4
My favourite photos of myself with my own four children

I did not mean to have four children, but as soon as I found out that I was going to have twins, so a third and fourth baby at the same time, I was pretty thrilled. There was a seven-year gap between my second son and this pregnancy, and I was happy to know that we’d have two babies and so each of them would have a friend to play with as they grew older.

I was 42 when I had the twins and am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have had a third and then later tried to have a fourth baby, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to have another baby in my mid-40s.

So although I haven’t been wondering myself where my husband and I should try for baby number four, I have many years of experience as a mother of four, with many ups and downs!

four children play on a bed, icluding twins as baby 3 and baby 4
Having brothers and sisters is usually seen as a positive by kids

Here are some of the pros and cons as our family have experienced it.

  • Life is more expensive, you cannot get away with that. Of course there are some economies of scale, like passing down clothes from sibling to sibling, and the fact that you only need to buy a certain amount of toys and books and then all the kids get to use them. Cooking in bulk can also be quite economical, buying things in bulk too.
  • But there are many things that you can’t find any savings on, for instance, if you need to fly somewhere to go on holiday or visit family then you have to buy that other flight.
  • And most families will have to buy a bigger car. Even a roomy car with five seats cannot fit six so most families will end up with a 7-seater… you cannot get away from that nor from many other expenses.
  • Your house will be more messy. I don’t know why but four seem to create more mess and chaos than three do.
  • Your kids learn to tolerate more differences since they live with more people, each of whom has their very own personality.
  • You are more likely to ensure that your children learn to help around the house, washing, tidying up, hanging up washing and then doing their own washing. As a parent you just cannot do everything on your own, you’ll disappear into a pile of washing and never be seen again. So kids in large families do tend to get used to doing more housework, and that’s a life skill for their whole future.

People are often curious to know what it’s like to have four kids. Well, in short, it’s tiring and busy and loud and really messy. There is always someone who needs me, which is both exhausting and life-affirming. I would never trade a single one of my children for the world, but having a fourth baby is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Jennie from Four to LoveJennie has a feee ebook with stories from mums of four of her website
Fourth baby 6 × 4 in 5
There are costs, yes, but many benefits to having a family with four children

Choosing To Have Baby Number 4

There are many benefits to having more children in the family. Here are some stories from mothers who decided that the family would not be complete without baby number four.

I always thought that four was a good number of kids because, even before I had my own children, I had met many families with four children and they seemed to have a lovely vibe. I met youngest children who were such lovely kids, gorgeous little beings who were so loved by so many people. My husband’s mother is one of four and they all get on well and really enrich each others lives. With four there is more room for relationships amongst the children.

I did leave space between my children, two years three months between my first and second, then two years and nine months between second and third and then three years and three months between third and fourth. Still, it was full on caring for a baby with the three other children to look after. I was in a high level demand situation for several years.

The biological drive for having babies is so strong! And so complex for we complex human beings!

My husband was not sure about having a fourth baby. I consciously didn’t complain to about stresses with mothering because there was an underlying intuition that if he experienced me struggling or complaining then he wouldn’t want to support a struggling partner through added burdens of parenting. Maybe that indicates I was pretty motivated to have a large family. One Christmas Paul drew me a beautiful card showing a mother with a baby, showing me he was ready to try for our fourth.

Cathy B

Our fourth one was the most planned of all our four children!

I had my first son at 23, and he was a bit of a surprise baby, as was his brother who came along 16 months later. After a while I felt as if another baby would be welcome, but we lost two along the way. That was pretty rough looking back.

Then my daughter was born when I was 30, so there was a five year gap between her and her next oldest brother. As soon as she was born, I knew i would have another baby. I really didn’t want her to be a spoiled princess! And also, I had watched the two older boys play together all their lives. So I decided pretty quickly that we should go for baby number 4, really to be a friend for our daughter. There is only 22 months between my daughter and her little brother, our fourth and youngest.

My husand was also keen for four, he liked having the even number, no-one is ever left out.

Dee K
Fourth baby 6 × 4 in 2
Having playmates at home is one of the best things about having four kids

Twins Parents’ Perspectives

twins babies on a fluffy rug
There really is something very special about having twins, they are double trouble but so very cute

I was interested to chat to some other twin mums about their experiences.

Alisoun G. had a set of boy twins as her third and fourth, after having two daughters as her first and second children. Alisoun says:

I’m one of four so I was always adamant that three kids would be sufficient so I probably wouldn’t have gone on to have number four if I wasn’t ‘blessed’ with twins! ? ,It has worked out well because we already had the two girls and then had the twin boys so everybody always had someone to talk with, be that the same sex or the opposite sex!

Downsides to having four is the cost (of course) – bigger car, more expensive to go on holidays. It can be hard to find holiday accommodation when you are not a nuclear family but I wouldn’t change it now for the world.

Alisoun G.
Fourth baby 6 × 4 in 3
newborn 1399155 640
Having baby number 4 is often so appealing, but we really do need to think hard about it.

Deciding Not To Try For Baby Number 4

Families who decided to stick with three kids and not try for a fourth have many reasons for their decision. Here are some of the answers people gave when asked why they stuck with three.

I would have liked a 4th. I started ‘trying’ when I was 31 though and only managed to fit in three by the time I was 40, and that was my mental ‘cut off’.

If it hadn’t taken me two years to fall pregnant with my first I might have managed it. I loved being pregnant. Now of course I’m glad I don’t have another younger teenager on my hands. 

I absolutely didn’t want just two. My brother and I thought like cat and dog. Families with only two children are shown to be a very competitive environment. I think a third child is a circuit breaker and that boys benefit from having a sister in terms of empathy (studies to support this). I was surprised to have a girl though. I had ssumed I would just have another boy. Peter Costello, the treasurer. was also encouraging families to have three children at the time. One for mum, one for dad and one for the country.

Simone S.

I felt quite well during pregnancy one and two, and, having chronic migraine since my teens, being pregnant seemed to stop the headache which was a huge positive ( until I gave birth then they started again). In my third pregnancy I seemed to get more uncomfortable, I had an extremely stuffy nose for months, which was weird but apparently is something that can happen, also I got a huge varicose vein on my leg which was horrible, luckily this went immediately after the birth. I was 33 when she was born. This was probably not as bad as some women feel when pregnant, but it seemed to be worse to me, therefore that was enough!

I was perfectly happy with three girls, of course being in the farming community many people felt they had the right to tell us we must be disappointed not to have a boy ?. However we really weren’t. 

Lesley G-B

Karen Bleakley of the Smart Steps to Australia website is a mum of three from Brisbane, she migrated to Australia with her husband and three young children, her twins sons and singelton daughter. Although Karen thought long and hard about going for baby number four, she and her husband decided in the end to stick with three, here’s why.

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Karen and her three kids

Before you had any kids, what number did you think would be right for you?

Growing up, I always wanted three kids because I came from a family with three kids and it felt like the perfect number. Two never felt like enough and four always felt like the house would be too busy! 

Were you shocked when you had your twins??

Neither of us ever expected that we’d have twins. It couldn’t have been further from my mind when we went for our 12-week scan and were told there were two babies in there. It was the most incredible surprise though and I feel so blessed to have been able to have had this experience. Having two babies at once introduces you to a special club you never knew existed before. 

I had no twins that we knew of in the family (non-identical twins should run down the female line of the family). We’ve recently made some progress tracking down some hidden threads in my family tree and have now discovered so many twins in my family so it was really pretty inevitable that I’d have them – we just didn’t know this at the time. 

We were prepared for our baby number three to be another set of twins – we figured life was chaotic enough with a pair of two-year-old boys so another two babies didn’t seem that daunting. Baby number three ended up being a single baby though, and it was really lovely being able to enjoy a more relaxed experience only carrying and delivering one baby. It was also lovely having a girl that time round too.

What were your thoughts around trying for a fourth baby? 

We moved to Australia when our three kids were small. We seriously considered having baby number 4 a few years later, but eventually decided to get a dog instead. There was so much to consider – baby four could easily have been twins again so could have turned into babies four and five. 

So much played into our decision – how easy would it be to get hotel rooms for a family of six (it’s hard enough for a family of five), how much more challenging and expensive would it be to go back to the UK on holidays, we’d need to replace one of our family cars, we’d have likely needed a larger house and another baby would mean more school fees. 

I also had to think about going back to the baby days and what that would mean for me. With three kids at school, I was finally enjoying time to focus on running my business, and I was enjoying sleeping through the night again.

As with everything my husband and I do, we mull over it until we feel like the right answer bubbles to the surface. We realised that we felt so content and happy with our three kids and we wanted to enjoy this time with them rather than end up busy and exhausted with another baby.   

How old are the kids now and are there any regrets about your decision?

Our kids are now 10, 13 and 13 and we definitely made the right decision for us. I’m big on living a life with no regrets, and I feel like we gave ourselves plenty of time and space to make the right decision for us. 

Our dog is our baby now! We are definitely planning on getting at least another one or two dogs – we love a crazy household. I think we’ve got the perfect balance now and we’re really enjoying our kids turning into young adults – it’s my favourite age so far. 

Do you think being a migrant to Australia has had an influence on your decision?

I think living in Australia as a migrant did have an impact on us choosing to stick with three kids. Not because of the lack of family support though – we’ve always been very independent, so we weren’t worried about the idea of raising a baby without family support around us. 

It was more about the logistics of taking trips back to visit our family. Being able to visit our family regularly was important to us, and an extra child would mean a lot of extra costs. It would increase the airfare, and we’d have to hire a car rather than borrow one during our month-long trips, plus we’d likely need to find accommodation rather than staying with family.

Do you have any advice for families who have three and are not sure whether to try for a fourth?

I think just give yourself the time and space to think about it. Think about the pros and cons of having another or sticking and enjoying what you have – there is no right answer! Deep down, I think if it’s the right decision for you, you know it. 

While finances and logistics did play into our decision, a big part of it was that we liked the ‘idea’ of baby number four without the reality of going back to the baby days again. If we’d really wanted to have another, none of those logical decisions would have stopped us from going ahead with it. For us though, three is the magic number and we’re very happy with that.

I’ll give the final word to my oldest son who wasn’t always delighted to have to share his life with his three brothers and sisters. He’s in his 20s now and when I asked him what was good about being in a larger family he said.

‘It’s good for playing football when you’re smaller, and now that I’m older it’s great at Christmas because I get more presents!’

And when I asked about downsides:

‘Well, I guess I have to buy more presents too!’

messy house 1
All kids make a mess!! But they can learn to tidy up too

I hope you have found some useful thoughts here as you decide whether to try for baby number 4.

And if you are already expecting your fourth child then I hope that you’ve picked up some useful tips as well as reading how much other families love that they did have baby number 4.

If you happen to be an older mum or dad, then you might enjoy this article on all the cool things about having babies when you are over 40.

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