In Discussions, Life, Parenting

When should a woman have her first child or baby?

Reading this article from the L.A. Times annoyed me:

Survey: Majority of Americans say women should have first child by 25

When should a women have her first baby?

A majority of Americans said age 25 or younger would be the ideal, according to a new survey.
 
Gallup recently polled 5,100 people and found that 58% said women should start having children in their early 20s or late teens.
 
Only 3% of respondents said 31 or older is the ideal time for a woman to have her first child.
 
[…] …. Exactly who thinks 25 is “ideal”?

While 72% of adults 65 and older said that women should have kids by 25, 60% of adults ages 18 to 29 agreed.

Via L.A. Times 

SERIOUSLY?! I WAS NOWHERE NEAR READY

At 25, I was barely out of college, didn’t even really have my career confirmed or started, and while I was making a good salary, I was traveling 100% of the week, working 60+ hour workweeks, and totally exhausted.

It was only by circumstance and luck that I got out of my $60,000 of debt in 18 months which was nearing the end of my 25th year, but had I not made it out of debt, I would have needed until at least 28, if not the age of 30 to clear my debt.

There was no way in hell I would have been ready or prepared to have a baby at 25.

NO. WAY.


baby-swimming-child-parent

FOR ME, THE IDEAL TIME IS LATE-20s, EARLY-30s

Circumstances, situation and willingness taken into account (I do want children, and I want more than one), my idea timeline would have been in my late 20s or early 30s.

I always thought: Before the age of 35… because reading pregnancy books, going to see the doctor and basically getting scared about all these medical facts about how the chances of your baby can contracting this disease and that syndrome are higher before the age of 35.

It’s not that your baby WILL get those diseases or syndromes, but there’s a higher risk once you cross the 35-year old threshold.

I KNOW FRIENDS WHO WERE PRESSURED INTO HAVING A BABY EARLY

I have a friend who was pressured by her partner to have a baby at 26. I know another woman who had her parents nag her to have a child (she had 2) before the age of 26.

After I said my heartfelt congratulations, they decided to ask me when I was deciding on having kids.

Her parents (whom were co-workers), turned to me and said: Well if you want kids, you better get crackin’ before the age of 26, 30 at the latest. Otherwise, you might as well kiss the opportunity goodbye.

I mean, talk about giving advice where it was not welcome!

The partner who pressured his girlfriend to have a baby at 26, told me that he didn’t want to be an old father, so he wanted his kid ASAP.

I mean.. really?! Shouldn’t it be a joint decision? They should BOTH agree on it.

(Not that I should say anything as I didn’t plan on this pregnancy, it was a happy surprise.)

Furthermore, considering that if I was pressured in such a similar situation, I would have never had my career established and stable the way it is now, and I’d have basically stunted it, if not ruined it for the next 40+ years of working because the early years are the most important in my industry.

Still… it kind of annoys me that no one wants to even consider or ask the opinion of the woman who will be carrying this little passenger for 9 months, what she wants.

(Culture and customs aside, as some cultures demand that you marry very young and start a family ASAP.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK?


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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56 Comments

  1. Alyssa

    I’m 25 right now and I would fall a part if I had a child at this age. Not because they’re not great, but because I’m still figuring out my life, like most women my age. I promised myself I wouldn’t even consider it unless I were financially secure. And I think that’s valid reason enough, let alone age. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Alyssa

      Forgot to say, my mom had me at age 38 and I turned out fine. Although there can be complications, those are possible at any age.

      Reply
    2. save. spend. splurge.

      For sure. I completely agree with you. Babies are not the answer, as evidenced by my hoarse voice from yelling out of panic at Baby Bun yesterday. He wanted to do all these dangerous things…

      Reply
  2. L
    Lila

    Maybe 25 is ideal but it doesn’t seem very realistic especially when the cost of living is very high these days and takes longer for most young people to establish themselves than it was when our parents and grandparents were young.

    Reply
  3. R
    Rebecca

    I am turning 26 next week and there is no chance there will be a baby in my arms any time soon. I wont graduate until I am 28 and then I want to get my career started before I bring a child into the world. I also want to be married before I have kids. Luckily I have a boyfriend thats exactly on the same page as me and we both want at least 3 kids.

    With that said I think its good to wait until late 20s/early30s because having a decent income and good finances is a huge advantage if you want to get a baby. Babies are expensive! And they will be so for at least 18 years. And if you first have one the second one is usually not far away, so I think it requires planning. For those who try to pressure women into have babies early seems to be ignorant for the fact that women also would want a career and get that started before they have maternity leave.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Ditto. You kind of need to get yourself established before you can really think about taking care of someone else (a very little someone else), unless you are already set on being the one staying at home or your career is already established in which case any time is a good time.

      Reply
  4. E
    Emily @ Urban Departures

    Thought I’d add my two cents as well because I always find it interesting as to when women choose to have children.

    I would have liked to be 25 years old when I had my first. I felt emotionally ready but I wanted to be more established in my career and finances before starting a family, and my husband and I decided to try closer to thirty with the hopes of having our first before 30. I got pregnant a bit earlier than expected and my baby weeks before I turned 28. Many other women in my field have their first in the early to mid-thirties, and I was very self conscious to have a baby in my twenties, fearing I’d be perceived as less ambitious. all said and done, I couldn’t be happier with when I had a baby.

    I don’t think women or men should have an ideal age to have a baby. Babies can just happen (or not). There is no ideal age for it, nor can we truly plan it. I think it’s more important to set goals to be accomplished first before trying for a baby such as “reach X in my career” and “have partner and myself to want baby”. When to have a baby is first nature’s doing and then a mutual decision between you and your partner.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Emily @ Urban Departures: Baby Bun happened to us without planning for it. If we were to plan and say: Hey let’s try this year… for sure a contract would come up that would derail that, etc. For us as freelancers we had to just let it happen.

      (Of course it also meant stopping The Pill too..)

      Reply
  5. femmefrugality

    I had multiple kids by 25. And I wouldn’t change it for anything. But that’s just me. I’m actually kind of surprised the article had people advising such a young age. I don’t feel all that young, but most people I know that have kids my age are a bit older than I am and not too enthusiastic when they find out my age. I get all KINDS of advice as if because they are older they’ve been raising children, who are exactly the same age as mine, longer than I have. (The advice always comes after the age discovery.) Then again, when I lived in Idaho most people had kids by 19. (Which in my opinion is too young, but, hey, to each their own.) Cultural and sub-cultural influences have a lot to do with it, too. But in my opinion it’s all up to the individual. Everyone’s in a different situation and uses different aspects of their life to determine preparedness for starting a family.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @femmefrugality:

      I think if I didn’t want to have, or did not need to have a career in the field I chose, 25 would have been a good age, assuming I had found someone by then…

      Reply
  6. O
    One More Knight

    Are you sure this article is recent and not from 50 years ago? Back in the sixties you pretty little things had only one ‘career’ to worry about – just listen to Andy Williams’ “Wives and Lovers”. Actually I’m off to listen to it now. Ah, but for a time machine 😉

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @One More Knight: Not from 50 years ago!

      Still, I don’t deny that having kids younger is better for the baby and the mother, but at the same time we live in a different world now.

      Reply
  7. Morgaine

    Wow! Lots of comments on this one, but I’ll put in my 2 cents. If I had a child with the guy I was with when I was 25 I would be (or would have been) a single Mom. There’s no way I would have stayed with that loser and I doubt he would have wanted a kid (he was a child himself). I just turned 33 and yes the pressure is on big time, but we have to be ready, no matter what age and we shouldn’t let anyone else determine when that should be.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Morgaine: The problem with all of this discussion for me, is all the fear mongering that goes on

      You have no idea how stressed I was finding out I was pregnant and reviewing in my head what I had been doing for the past 6 weeks.

      Then you hear from doctors about all the possible problems and complications you could have being over 25, or under 35… it just makes for a very.. horribly overinformed pregnancy.

      Reply
  8. A
    Anna

    There is no perfect time to have kids. I had mine at 25 and 27, I was married at 22 and would have waited longer. I was not ready, but hey I was married and then I got pregnant. I’m glad that I had them young. When I will be 45 they will both be adults! Also, I finished school, both BS and MBA and have a great career. It can be done, you can have it all.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I think it’s tricky to say “you can have it all”, when circumstances for each person are different.

      For you, it worked out.

      If at 22 I married and then had kids at 25 and 27, my career would have been finished at 25. I would not have been able to do what I do now, because it has taken me THIS LONG to establish my career. At 25, having a kid or taking a year off would have been basically telling my career to screw off, because the first 5 years are the most critical.

      Reply
  9. Well Heeled Blog

    Still wobbly on the idea of kids. But if we do have kids, I’d like to have my first (and very likely only) by 33 or 34. So start trying by 32? I am 3 years from that and it’s already a little scary, because we don’t know exactly what’s happening with jobs, savings, etc.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Tell me about it. That’s what I was thinking last year: But if I want 2-3 kids, I have to start NOW.

      Also, it could take longer than 3 months to get pregnant. I have a friend who tried for 6 months….

      Reply
  10. M
    MelD

    Happiness is an individual thing and sometimes involves taking risks instead of waiting, but hey. Who cares what statistics say.
    Personally, I was 19, 26 and 30 when I had my three kids, and got married at 25 although I’d been with my partner since just after the first child. I have friends who have had kids young and friends who have not had kids till I became a grandmother at 43… glad I didn’t wait, for myself tho.
    There is no hard and fast rule as to who is happier. My kids seemed to appreciate young parents (I also had young parents so we are 5 generations alive…!) and my eldest wanted kids young, she is now 29, married at 22, had her first at 24, second 27 and will probably go for a third next year, working and studying all the while (I studied in my late 30s/early 40s). My second daughter married at 19 but doesn’t want kids yet – her hubbie is the eldest of 6 and wants to enjoy some kidfree time before they settle and start, if at all! His folks were young, too – as were my in-laws.
    Different folks, different strokes. Some are happy having had kids younger (us!) and others are happy they waited. From the kids’ point of view, it’s nice to have active parents and experience the older generations, as kids of older parents often have nobody else alive any more, so personally I think they miss out. But this is only my opinion! You can have grandparents that are uninvolved and get the same result, sadly. We really enjoy being so many generations and learning from each other (aged 2-97) – it’s brilliant!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      19! You are such a young mother.

      I think it’s nice to have children younger because of the energy thing.. and it’s also nice to see your grandchildren and enjoy them while you are still young (and you are young!), and maybe hope for great grandchildren.

      Reply
  11. C
    Cassie

    It’s a tough one, and a very personal decision. I’m definitely getting the “non-pressure” pressure from my mom (ie. “I’m looking sooooo forward to when you have kids…, but no pressure.”), and I’m extremely frustrated by it. Would I like to try for kids right now? Yes. Is my partner ready? No. Is the popular opinion of the optimum age impacting that fact? No.

    I think the stat that 72% of people 65 and older think a woman should have kids by 25 needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Not only are they far removed from the reality of today’s younger generation, having kids before 25 was the norm when they were young. Of course that’s what they believe!

    My mom had me at 22, but my dad was also 29 at the time. It worked for them. My sister had her daughter at 25, but had been trying unsuccessfully for a few years. My niece is two now, and my sister hasn’t been able to get pregnant a second time for a handful of reasons. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to have kids young, but to brush all women with a broad sweeping brush stroke of “You must have kids by this age” is not only foolish, it can be dangerous for the future well being of individuals in the family unit.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh the fake “non-pressure”. I got that 3 years ago. My mom desperately clutched my arm and said: I don’t care if you don’t ever get married to him. PLEASE have a baby while we are still alive!

      (She exaggerates.)

      My mother had me at 35, so she really can’t say anything…. 😛

      Reply
  12. Stephanie

    I was just as shocked as you were when I read that article. But, I live in a part of liberal America where people value a women’s right to have a career if she wants. For me, it’s a personal decision, and judging others who make decisions different from yours is wrong.

    My own personal opinion is that I’d probably want two kids, no more than three, and that I’d want to do it at that fine line where I’m young and strong and have a stable career. My guess is that for me, this will be when I’m 27-28 (I’m 22), and finishing up a PhD. Even better if my current boyfriend’s plans work out and he becomes a patent lawyer right around that time so that we won’t have to struggle financially. But, this might not work out that way, and that’s okay.

    Finally, there are a lot of people posting here who regret waiting past 35. I can name quite a few people who waited past 35 and don’t regret it one bit. (No Down Syndrome or anything at all there!)

    I wish you and BF (finance or husband now?) well on your new baby! Congratulations! 😀

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      That’s kind of where I am too but I want at least a sibling for them, but preferably 3, 4 maximum.

      (BF is .. I guess my husband now. I am calling him husband because he is technically my common-law husband or partner, and BF is far too lax, and I am in this relationship for life.)

      Thank you for the congratulations!!

      Reply
  13. Daisy

    This is such a personal decision. I have had my shit together since I was in my early 20s, and am 24. Already I have had two feet firmly secured in my career, I have been with my fiancé for 6.5 years (will be 7 when we get married this summer) and have savings, an education and financial security that many of my peers do not (yet). Fiancé is a couple of years older than me and is the same.

    I never wanted to be somebody that had her first in her thirties – I always wanted to be a younger mom but things change. I still felt a bit panicky when, in September, a tarot card reader told me I wouldn’t have my first until I was 31, but every year that passes seems to make me extend my definition of a younger parent.

    I think it’s a decision for both parties. I wouldn’t feel right pressuring my fiancé to have kids before he was ready and I know that he feels the same. In the same breath, though, I wouldn’t feel comfortable making him hold off for years if he had valid reasons for wanting to start within the next few. It’s both of our lives and I shouldn’t hold the monopoly on the decision just because I get to carry the babies for 9 months, you know?

    I think it’s important that both parties are on the same or similar pages when it comes to huge decisions like this.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Wow, you are definitely farther ahead of me than I was at 24. Without a doubt…

      Reply
  14. S
    Sara

    I’ve always thought that 23-33 would be the best decade of life to have children. But, I’ve been in a steady partnership since 22.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I guess it’s also because I only met my partner at 25, so I had not been in a steady relationship since then…

      Reply
  15. Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt

    I think it depends on the individual and when they are ready. They shouldn’t be swayed by others although it’s not that easy when put under pressure of course. Bringing a child into this world is a big task for any parent! I had my daughter when I was 30, I didn’t feel ready before!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Ditto. I did not feel ready before. I felt ready this year…

      Reply
  16. Tania

    I would’ve reacted the way you did when I was younger but now I feel differently. I always thought I had time. Now that I’m 45 and without children, I wish I had strongly considered the possibility I would end up with no children earlier in life and whether or not that would be ok with me. There were issues in my marriage that weren’t related to fertility that are the reason I didn’t have any kids and I just kept pushing them on the back burner until my early 40s when we got divorced.

    Now I look at friends of mine with family who all had their kids when they were younger and although I have a bigger deal career and nicer things, I honestly can’t say I’m happier than them. They are also hotties I might mention! All my friends who had kids young are still young and in good enough shape to really enjoy life now that their kids are older. I see your point entirely, it’s rational but I think your are also in a place of living simply which others who wait may not be. Many of us on the yuppie train may appear to better off but we aren’t because we lived a life of excess. We get to middle age and we’re tired, out of shape, have huge job stress and overworked. Sometimes I think my friends were forced to live simply earlier because they had kids to think of. But the grass is always greener right? I think so many factors play into it and what age you had your kids is just one of those factors. They may have the stress of having less income but I still feel many of them are happier with how there life turned out than someone like me.

    But under your circumstances, I’d say this is the perfect time for you 🙂 It is just a very individual thing but my advice to a younger woman would be to really think about how important it is to her and what it would take.

    Reply
  17. LAL

    27 or 28. I wish I had done it at that age instead of waiting till 30. I wouldn’t feel so pressured to rush having my kids close together. I had met the right guy but we were waiting for more financial security. Big mistake. 25 doesn’t seem young if you have your act together.

    I have to say most of my friends with kids are pushing 40 having their first, and they regret it. Did they wait? HELL NO. They just hadn’t met the right person until then. They met, married within a year and pregnant on the honeymoon. Others took 9 IVF cycles! Hence almost 38 with 1 child.

    I don’t think people necessarily want to wait till their 30s but circumstances intervene and they don’t have the opportunity until later.

    Now if people ask I say earlier the better. Before 30 for sure.

    Reply
  18. dojo

    I’m 35 now. Got pregnant 7 months ago (was still 34 ;)). I didn’t want kids until now, got pregnant on the first try and it all looks great. I don’t want other kids, so this one should be enough

    Anyway … the decision is yours and your partner’s, the others can shut up 😀

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @dojo: Hear hear! 🙂

      Reply
  19. Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild

    While I don’t think there is a perfectly ideal time, I think late twenties/early thirties sounds about right. I grew up in the small town Midwest and tons of people I went to school with have multiples now. So young! But that’s their prerogative.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild: Max 4 for me, although I think we will end up with 3.

      Reply
  20. A
    AdinaJ

    Have a baby when you’re willing and able to care for him/her. The whole “feeling ready” thing … I have 2 kids and I still don’t “feel ready” some days. I mean, I wanted to have kids and I knew we had the resources to care for them when we decided to go for it, but I didn’t feel ready to be a parent, if that makes sense. It’s a mind blowing responsibility when you really think about it, especially for those of us who did not grow up caring for younger siblings, etc. You don’t suddenly feel like a parent, in my experience. In my mind, I’m still 17, hah!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @AdinaJ: I grew up not caring for any siblings (they weren’t around for me either, to be honest)… and I’ve never babysat before or had to do any of that.

      This will be totally new for me.

      Reply
  21. Debt and the Girl

    I would take surveys like this with a grain of salt. I always wonder who they are actually surveying and where because that would make a huge difference. I know I wasn’t ready at 25 and I am still not ready. To each, his own I guess.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Debt and the Girl: Usually if they survey over 1000 I tend to think it’s the majority opinion.. although you make a good point about WHERE these people live having something to do with it.

      Reply
  22. H
    Heather H

    I think between 25 and 30 as well, but I am fine with younger. It really depends on the person of course. My first was at 27 and second at 31, but I wish I started at 25. We were never debt free or had a lot of money then but we did just fine. My niece had her first at 21 and her second just now at 23 and she is blissfully happy being a Mom (she has her Masters degree and works). I also have friends turning 50 with kids younger than mine and high school friends at 43 (my age) still having babies, I don’t envy them at all. I have found that a lot of people don’t think about the future when those kids are still kids or teens and you are hitting 50 or even 60. They also may be too old to truly enjoy their grand kids some day.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Heather H: How did your niece have kids while going to school and working? Or did she do it in between the kids?

      Reply
      1. H
        Heather H

        @save. spend. splurge.: She was a young college grad (graduated HS at 17, her b-day is November) and was pregnant with her first during an accelerated masters. She is a bit of an over-achiever 😉

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          AH I see! That makes more sense 🙂

          Reply
  23. MakintheBacon

    She should have her first child when she’s ready. I guess ideally it would be 30. The people who say 25 grew up at a different time. If women were to have a baby now at 25, people would be looking at her as if she was crazy. My mom actually had my sister and me in her 30s, which at the time was considered late.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @MakintheBacon: My mother had me in her 30s as well. Totally considered too late.

      Reply
  24. R
    R

    I do actually see where they are coming from a bit in this article. I had my first at 23 but I did have my shit totally together and I was mature. I started trying for my second at 25 and it took 2 years to conceive him with the help of a laparoscopy to get rid of some endometriosis. I have noticed a lot and, I do mean a lot of, women having trouble with getting pregnant by age 30 and even before that, like me. I do think society and media make it seem like it’s so easy to get pregnant after 30 but in reality a woman’s body is primed to have kids from mid teens to 20’s. Not that it’s a good reason to have a kid at 20 if your life is a mess but yes I do agree that if kids are very important to you, don’t leave it until the last minute and wait until every aspect of life is just so. I know a lot of women kicking themselves now for not having started earlier.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @R: Oh goodness I am happy you managed to conceive your second. That is not easy..

      I was lucky and got pregnant without knowing it or trying, but I know it is not that easy for women. I guess factoring in the TIME it takes to conceive is something you cannot determine beforehand.

      Reply
  25. L
    Liliana

    I think between 25 and 30 is the ideal age. I’m 25 now, I finished college, I’m married and I have a good job and I’m planning to have a baby when I’ll be 28.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @Liliana: I didn’t even include marriage. You have to find someone (1 year?), then get engaged (another year?) then get married.. start your life (another year?) then have a kid (maybe another year to conceive?)

      You could be looking at 4 years before your first child if you don’t have a partner now, or are not married.

      Reply
  26. C
    Cindy

    That’s accurate if u have your sh*t together. If not then I personally believe you should not bring a baby into the world.

    Reply
  27. j
    jp @cashsnail

    As I told my wife many times, there is never a good time for getting a baby. The older you get the less energy you have (and those little hurricanes do consume lot of your energy :))
    But having stable jobs & no debt is helping not to stress. So I would say between 25-30 is a good time (I may be a bit biaised because the only stories of issue I heard where from pregnancy after 30)

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      @jp @cashsnail: For me, pregnancies after 35 was the real issue.. or that’s what my doctor told me anyway.

      The older you get, the less energy you have, that’s true.. but I can’t imagine being sapped from starting a career out of college, and then having to deal with them.

      Reply
  28. 0
    0by30

    Interesting post – and agree with you, from a financial perspective, waiting to have kids until after you have established a career can be very beneficial.

    Biologically, socially, culturally .. those answers can get a little more complicated. Having had a child when I was 25, I will admit it wasn’t the easiest time financially, and we are not in the same place as friends without kids – but we managed to stay fed !
    I know its cliche, but I don’t think there is any right time, waiting for everything to be perfect and ready is setting yourself up, it’s always going to be messy !

    Reply
    1. s
      save. spend. splurge.

      @0by30: That’s true. There’s never a right time, but for me, 25 was WAY too early.

      Reply

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