But thanks for pointing that out to me. Again. Should I give my child a sibling? Well, that’s a very different conversation to does my child need a sibling.

Out of curiosity, what reaction are you anticipating? Do you genuinely foresee something along the lines of ‘Oh! Of course! I’ve been so wrapped up in this one I’d not given it a moment’s thought! Thanks though – I’ll get right onto that tonight!’?

Do you truly imagine I’ve not considered it? Or, perhaps, do you think I have – but clearly a nudge is in order, and you’re the right person to give it?

What if I’ve deliberated, but ultimately decided against it? Are you the right person to convince me I’m wrong?

It’s such a deeply personal and complex decision. I used to be of the naïve assumption that once you’d had one baby, there’d be little holding you back from cracking on with the next. But I now know better; and, if you’ve had children yourself – perhaps you should too.

Does My Child Need a Sibling

However, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, and so I’m writing this to help you appreciate just precisely what it is you may be suggesting to those you impose your unsolicited opinions on.

Edit: For those on a well-known baby platform discussing this post (July ’18), here’s my personal truth

Does My Child Need a Sibling?

Here are some of the very legitimate issues only-child families may be contending with:

 I’m Traumatised

Throughout my first pregnancy I was scared of giving birth, but I didn’t know what was in store and tried very hard to remain calm and zen. I allowed myself to believe that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be quite as horrendous as I feared. But it was worse. Everything went wrong and my baby was in danger. The pain was indescribable. The very thought of wilfully putting myself through it again is enough to induce sweaty palms and near-hysteria. Naturally I feel guilty for that, but each time I close my eyes and try to consider the wonder of holding another infant in my arms, the anxiety takes over and panic sets in.

Quite simply, I can’t do it.

Are you sick of people casually asking you when you'll have another baby? There are many reasons families may choose not to give their child a sibling, such as PND, infertility, divorce and miscarriage. And sometimes it's not a choice at all.

I’m Ill

I’d love nothing more than another baby – but I’m unwell. Carrying another child could exacerbate my illness; it could even prove fatal. This is already something that hangs over our family every day; I certainly don’t need reminding of it with your unnecessary comments.

While my daughter would probably benefit from the addition of a sibling, I’m not convinced that would be the case should it be at the expense of her mummy.

I’m Depressed

I can barely make myself cope with one child – I cannot begin to think about bringing another into this situation. Just dragging myself out of bed in the morning is sometimes beyond my capability. I’m a failure as a mother and the relentless guilt I feel towards the toddler I have is overwhelming enough.

I cannot risk the idea that a second may heal me; because equally, it may be my undoing.

My Body is Not Ready

Yes, I’d quite like to start thinking about it, actually. But my periods have not yet returned. Oh, am I making you uncomfortable now? Sorry about that, it’s a rather personal issue to discuss, isn’t it…

 I Can’t

I’d love nothing more than another baby. I’m ready; I’m broody; and you’re right – my toddler needs a sibling. So imagine my immense heartache and despair that I can’t give it to her. Each time you repeat your assertion, it’s like scratching at a wound which refuses to heal. My partner wants it too, but [insert reason] is preventing us from having a second child, and we’re devastated by that.

Does your child need a sibling? It's a big question and one that others too often feel the need to answer for you. But there are many reasons that sometimes it's not even a choice - sometimes biological but other times not. #secondbaby #newbaby #PND

I Just Miscarried

If you’d told me this last week, it’s possible you’d have been rewarded with a reticent smile and a whispered confidence. But this week the best I can do is look away and choke back my tears, while I silently scream at you for your cruel words.

I’m utterly bereft, and too emotionally exhausted to want to share that with you.

We’re Broke

I’m desperate to have another baby, but we’ve done the sums and they don’t add up. Would you have us put ourselves in debt? We have to consider what’s best for the child we do have, and right now that means being able to afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over her head. Naturally, we’d be thrilled to accept your benevolence should you wish to gift us enough to cover the cost of a sibling for our daughter; but until that day arrives, your ill-thought words feel callous.

I’m Scared for My Health

Following the birth of my daughter I was affected by a mild case of Postnatal Anxiety. I say mild because I beat it alone, without medical intervention – but make no mistake: it was a dark time. I am terrified of returning to that place, and that the additional responsibility of baby number two could be what would send me there. I need to be a good mum; I can’t risk the possibility of a deterioration in my mental health jeopardising that.

I’m Scared for My Daughter

I have a high needs daughter. For those unsure of what that is, it basically means she requires lots of love and attention. (In my opinion, most babies would probably fall into this category if cared for by a mother who had the time, energy, capacity and inclination to respond to their every need.) I’m grateful that right now, if my daughter requires something from me, I can give it to her. I can’t bear the thought of being needed that way twice over, and being unable to provide either child with what they need from their mummy.

Does My Child Need a Sibling

I’m Scared for My Marriage

Having a baby the first time around was daunting enough. But now we’re finally finding our feet as a family, I’m frightened of upsetting the applecart. My husband and I have had to learn to adjust and there have been times we’ve only just made it through – a new baby could complete our family – or it could destroy us. We’re not prepared to bet on those odds.

My Partner Doesn’t Want To

I think you’re right, as it happens. Alas, my partner disagrees. I’m devastated that we can’t seem to find a way forward together, and it’s tearing our marriage apart.

I can’t discuss this with him, let alone with you.

We’re Struggling

You want the awful, humiliating truth? We’re not having sex. Having a child has been the equivalent of throwing a stick of dynamite at our marriage. What was a previously unbreakable union has become a desolate, lonely place. We initially blamed sleep-deprivation and fatigue. But eventually the fuse burnt out and now we must face the reality: we’ve grown apart. And I’m in despair.

I’m Getting Divorced

If things were different I would be pregnant right now. Unfortunately having a child put such unprecedented pressure on our relationship that we’ve been unable to sustain our marriage. We’re yet to make the announcement; but we will be imminently. The guilt we both feel that our daughter is losing her stability instead of gaining a sibling is vast.

Your remarks feel like the picking apart of the delicate threads of our family.

Are you sick of people casually asking you when you'll have another baby? There are many reasons families may choose not to give their child a sibling, such as PND, infertility, divorce and miscarriage. And sometimes it's not a choice at all.
If you're asking yourself 'does my child need a sibling?' then you need to ready this. Here's a list of various reasons people should never presume to ask that highly sensitive and very personal question.

My Partner is Abusive

In another lifetime, I’d be blissfully happy and planning my next pregnancy. Alas, when it’s impossible to tell which moment or event will be the one to set him off – I can’t risk it. I need to consider the child I have: we need to leave. But it’s not that simple. However, it’s not too late to protect my child’s sibling: simply by preventing his/her conception. Be under no misapprehension, this is an appalling position for our family to be in, but right now it’s the best I can do.

Are you sick of people casually asking you when you'll have another baby? There are many reasons families may choose not to give their child a sibling, such as PND, infertility, divorce and miscarriage. And sometimes it's not a choice at all.

I Just Lost My Partner

Imagine the depth of my sorrow. We started creating our family; but we’d not finished. And now my husband’s been prematurely stolen away, my family will never be complete. Of course I’m grateful for the child he gave me before he was wrenched from us; and naturally I’m glad for the memories we made together, which I look back at with fondness.

But I’m also flailing; I’m so eaten up by the unfairness of it all. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a home shrouded in bitterness and grief – that’s not the childhood I foresaw for her. Yet forcing smiles when my husband – her daddy – should be here, gifting them to me, is an indescribable anguish. So I’m not only mourning my husband and best friend; I’m mourning the second child we will never have together, and the family we’ll never be. I’m doing my best, but the next time somebody asks me when I’ll be having another baby, I might just fall apart.

I’m Worried For a Loved One

She’d be horrified if she knew my concern for her well-being was making me cautious of extending my own family, but the fact that my sister/friend/cousin [delete as appropriate] is desperate yet unable to conceive is a factor right now. I dare say we will eventually go on to have a second child; but, right now, I’m content with my family and my priority is focusing on my loved ones.

We’re Trying

Actually, for your information, we agree with you and we’re trying. But is that anyone else’s business? Essentially, you’re asking me to divulge details of our sex life, and I’m not comfortable with that. It’s inappropriate; that you’re asking about babies does not change that fact.

We Don’t Want To

We’re deliriously happy: our family is complete.

Does My Child Need a Sibling

There’s no more, nor less to it. I shouldn’t have to justify our position, but I shall nonetheless. We’ve given our options due consideration and we know in our hearts we only want one child. It’s our belief we’ll be better able to provide everything she needs emotionally and financially if we accept ours is a unit of three. Our daughter has mutually adored/adoring cousins; she has wonderful close friendships; but most of all – she has devoted parents who cherish every moment with her.

So – thanks for your concern; but, as her parents we feel we’re best placed to decide whether siblings are a necessity. And in our daughter’s case, I can assure you – they are not.

At least one of these applies to me; I dare you to ask which.

Does My Child Need a Sibling? Our Truth

As it happens, it is on my radar – in as much as it weighs heavily on my mind. But I have no intention of sharing the very personal components of our decision-making. Perhaps there will be an announcement soon; perhaps not.

I know you’re trying to impart your insight; but please credit me with the wisdom to make the right decision for myself, and for my family.

And those reasons above that are not applicable to me? They may well be to someone else. I urge you to consider all the many, many potential implications of your words. Because without any malice or cruel intent, your impertinence could very well be splintering somebody’s heart.

For more of my scribblings on parenting, sign up below for email notifications of new posts!

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.


  1. You’re right. I have a four year old and people sometimes inform me he needs a brother or sister. It’s usually someone who is not a part of my life and has no business asking such a question or making such a comment. Thanks for sharing x #thelist

  2. wow, this post was stunningly beautiful. As the parent of an only child I really appreiciate your thoughtfulness and understanding. It’s always so complicated for so many people. And children do need other children around them, but it doesn’t have to be siblings. There is even some research that says only children are happier.

  3. Cassie Parish Reply

    It’s an insensitive world and I think too many people are too quick to assume, pry or just be plain rude about what you “should” be doing with your life. When in fact it’s no ones business but your own. There are ways and means of discussing things with people eh. Love this article. Think it hits the nail on the head and is completely to the point X

  4. Great post, having a Child is hard work, most people I know including my 2 sisters have one for the no doubt one the reasons above. Its such a personal decision and quite frankly nobody else’s business! x

  5. Perfectly written. I don’t understand why people feel the need to interfere in such personal matters x

  6. What a great post and definitely shines the light on an important issue. While we still don’t have and aren’t trying for our first one, we have discussed that we are 90% sure that we would only want one child. One child that we can give our love to and see them flourish and mature. It’s everyone’s personal preference and I think the society needs to accept that.

  7. This is a fantastic article. Thank you. We only have one child and plan to keep it that way but society seems to find this so hard to accept.

    • Is dreadful that so many seem to think it’s acceptable to interfere. Thanks for your lovely comment, I’m glad you liked the post x

  8. Fantastic article. You’ve encapsulated so articulately what many are thinking I’m sure.x

  9. People always have to stick their opinion in don’t they?! After my daughter was born and I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I had people who told me I was selfish for having another child. I subsequently miscarried my second and third pregnancies before successfully having my first son. Each time I was told I was being selfish but I wouldn’t change my children for the world. I love each and every one of them and the only people who can make the decision on how many children they should have is their parents. Hugs x

  10. Kate Tunstall Reply

    That’s equally nosy and uncalled for, isn’t it!

  11. I’m so sorry to hear that, some people really are thoughtless. I’m sure they’d be horrified of they knew the truth, but it doesn’t make their comments any less hurtful, does it? X

  12. Kate Tunstall Reply

    Sniggers? *face palm* I’ll never understand that level of rudeness – I at least presumed it was naivety! Thanks Kaz x

  13. What a brilliant article. It touched me personally at this particular time in my life and I’m so glad to read it so we’ll written.
    Whatever your truth, so be it.

    • Thank you Emma. I’m sorry to hear that, but I hope the post at least helped you appreciate you’re not alone, whatever your circumstances. Sometimes that can be enough to help just a little. Wishing you and yours all the best.

  14. Oh, I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of it at some time or other. Like I said at the start of the post, I used to think it was simple before having my own. It’s those who should know better – or who judge – I’m directing this at! Xx

  15. Amy @ Mr and Mrs T Plus Three Reply

    You are amazing, I love this on so many levels. Oh the times I just wanted to stand and cry when people would ask why no baby with my husband….

    Nail on head as always xxxx

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Thank you so much my love, and I’m so sorry you experienced that, but so happy for you that you have your little Rose now. ? xxxx

  16. Perfectly put. More than one of those reasons are my reasons for just the one child , written as though you’d plucked the thoughts straight from my head.

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Thanks Briony, I’m glad you liked the post. Thank you for commenting, and best wishes to you and your family.

  17. I have to be honest, I’m guilty of always asking when the next one will hopefully be arriving and I still get asked it too. But reading this certainly made me think. After my son was born it was long before my man knocked me up again, unintentionally. I was incredibly scared about having a second and we kept it a secret for many months and when people asked when our second would be coming I was excited to be holding our secret but it reminded me that we were having another and weren’t prepared at all. Not everyone can/wants more children and it’s none of our business! X

  18. Rachel @ Messy Stork Reply

    We have a string of reasons why we are one and done. A reason i’m not sure you touched on was fear of infertility. My daughter was 6 years in the making and we went through multiple fertility treatments. I went to a very dark place in my mind during that time and i’d be scared that i could go back there. My daughter needs me to be the best me i can be.

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      After I wrote the piece several more reasons came to me, but I realised I would never finish writing if I kept updating it. I’m so sorry you had that experience, but thrilled your you that you went on to have your daughter. I can’t speak from personal experience but I have several course friends who are going/have gone through this and I understand the heartache involved.

      For very different reasons which I did touch on, I also 100% empathise with your sentiment about your daughter needing you to be the best you.

  19. afewdesigns1cole Reply

    Such a lovely, well written article. My first child is now 8 months and I have been asked by well meaning friends when I was having another since she was 3 months old. I don’t understand the fascination of other people intruding on my life. I would never dream of asking personal questions but it seems I’m one of the minority. Good luck on your family, however many you want 🙂 I will do the same.

    • Only 8 months and it’s started already?! Sorry to hear this. Thank you, we have our second on the way (at last!) and we’re very excited!

  20. Step mummy Reply

    Your right I cannot believe how many time I have got that question and felt so uncomfortable. I have one beautiful baby girl and 3 amazing step children under the age of ten. I never predicted that my life would go down that road but life tends to do that to you and now I have a beautiful family of 6. If I didn’t have step children there would be no doubt that I would have more but we are already trying to finance 4 children and as you can imagine the struggles of 4 can be taxing at time. So in short yes I would really love to have more children and maybe one day we will because I have a beautiful husband that would do anything for me but for right now we just take one day at a time and try to take in all the love we have and appreciate that we were even blessed with any..but you asking me that question really hurts and I am unsure how to answer without getting deeply personal so I just laugh and shake it off with a stupid reply and try not to cry.
    Thanks for this article!

    • Thanks for commenting. Your story reinforces the many different reasons behind stopping at one – I couldn’t cover them all of course. I’m sorry to hear of your difficult circumstances, and I hope you find peace, one way or the other.

  21. OK, so I haven’t had a baby yet. I’m 37 and have miscarried. I don’t think anyone means any harm by asking the question. We all need to stop being so sensitive about these things and be happy for what we have. We don’t live in Africa with no medical etc etc. Wake up, if it offends just say none of your business and move on…. We don’t need articles to justify the inappropriateness of others who are just generally inquiring about our lives

    • Firstly, I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

      Secondly, what we don’t need is people telling us what we do and don’t need. Everyone is entitled to deal with things in their own way, and if you don’t need articles like this then that’s great – you’ve no obligation to read.

      But the response to this post (my most popular ever), is all the evidence required to show that actually, some understanding and validation of feelings is often very welcome.

      Whilst I agree that we should be grateful for what we DO have, telling people to ‘wake up’ and stop being sensitive is both unhelpful and unkind.

  22. What a brilliant article. Thank you. It was not a decision we took lightly and I really appreciated this article. Sometime 3 is a family. Thank you again.

    • Thanks Kimberley, I understand it’s not an easy decision to take; I just wish others would refrain from comment because it’s not even always a choice. I’m glad you’re happy in your unit of three.

  23. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
    What i think in my head when someone asks ‘when is number two coming? ‘
    I haven’t slept for a year and a half since my first baby broke my vagina, but since you asked, sure, we’ll have another. Right now. Just for you.

  24. Thank you. You’re post made me cry! Finally, someone that just gets it without me having to explain the multiple reasons I can’t have a second child now. It’s actually a grieving process for me. And like dealing with someone’s passing, I have my good days and bad days, but it’s nice to know there are people like yourself that “get” it. Again, thank you.

  25. Thanks for your post, it really brought tears to my eyes.
    I have a 7 year old Daughter and I’m pregnant with a baby boy this time. People used to ask us ” you still got only one child? ” This question came out from an old woman who her self has one daughter. Getting pregnant for the second time was a struggle for me. We tried three years to get pregnant for the second time. People are so rude and ignorant.

    • They can be sadly, but I don’t think it’s malicious – I presume they’ve just never had to face any of these issues themselves. Aren’t they lucky?!

      Congratulations, and I hope all goes well with your baby boy.

  26. So true, it starts off with when are you getting engaged then once you are when are getting married and once you are when are you having a baby and if you’re lucky enough to have a child they start with so when are you having another, it just goes on.

  27. I am a mother of two and I think we can all find reasons to demonstrate the questions asked may be offensive. Consider though most people mean well and are just giving a point of view. Thats it. They don’t mean to offend. I am so over these sort of posts.

    • You’re right, but it doesn’t mean those people shouldn’t be educated. I’m sorry you didn’t like the post, but it makes me all the more grateful that you took the time to not only read, but also comment.

  28. Absolutely perfect- can you publish it in The Australian, West Australian, Sydney Herald, Women’s Weekly etc etc etc !
    ( I don’t think that there is truly a single person on the planet who hasn’t asked it – , I don’t know of many living saints, BUT now that “we” know better, folk think before asking and hopefully don’t. People don’t mean it unkindly, but as you have pointed out, or I daresay, many of us have experienced some of the key points that you have raised- I can tick off at least 5, please spread your well written words. xx

  29. Well written – I can’t believe sometimes how much motherhood makes women’s bodies and decision making public property. I’d like to hear a similar list for people who are choosing not to have children at all.

  30. This is a great article. I am an only child (now 29). My parents would have loved to have a sibling for me, but my Mum was 37 with pre-existing medical conditions when she had me and having me almost killed her. An emergency hysterectomy saved her life. A year or so after I was born, Mum went back to work, and a woman she worked with (who has actually since become a good friend of hers!!) asked when (not if!) she was planning to have a sibling for me. Mum said she wasn’t going to have any siblings for me but didn’t give a reason. The woman then went off at her, basically insinuating that Mum was a bad parent and a selfish woman for not giving me a brother or sister. It was a bit ‘foot-in-mouth’ for her when Mum explained that actually, it wasn’t ‘wouldn’t’ but rather ‘couldn’t’. My parents gave me everything. Sometimes, I really wonder what it would have been like to have a sibling, but I have never once blamed Mum and Dad for not giving me that- they did their level best to give me all the love and opportunities they could, and they are still, along with my partner, two of the three most important people in my life. Judge them on what they did give me (absolutely everything they could to help me lead a happy successful life), not on what they couldn’t, and give them the credit to make the right decisions for our unit of three.

  31. Great post, one I wish had been available before I or friends of mine even had a first child!

  32. I’m tired of being polite about it. My answer to the next one who asks: my son does have a sibling, he just didn’t get a chance to know him before we had to let him go. We saved us all so much suffering but most of all, his little brother will never know pain, suffering, bullying, failure, regret, or death. We bear that burden for him forever instead.

    I’m not sure now I want to ‘replace’ him.

  33. I couldn’t agree more with you!
    As a mother of a 3 year old who was a premmie and has lost(miscarried) 3 babies, I hate this conversation. I desperately want a sibling for my child but the universe has other things in line for me at the moment, but it still pains me eveytime someone says so when are you having number 2? Inside I’m screaming! People can be so inconsiderate, and don’t stop to think ‘maybe there’s more to it’
    It’s a personal and painful decision to make and I’m happy enjoying my crazy 3 year old who makes me thankful for him every day ?

  34. I had a baby nearly three months ago and the VERY next day after having her, I had a person tell me when you have your second one. I was stunned they said it that quick.

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