What’s the best age to have a baby?

SmartParents weighs the pros and cons of having your baby in your 20s, 30s and 40s.

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Starting a family is a very personal decision between a couple. And when they do decide that it's the right stage in their lives to do so, many couples don’t really factor in the best time to conceive.

They seldom view their age as a consideration, compared to how long they’ve been married, how stable their finances are, and so on.

But there are certain important physical and emotional factors tied to the age of the man and his wife. For instance, your age is a crucial factor if you are planning the number of kids to have, hoping to accomplish certain life experiences before starting a family, or considering the reproductive health of yourself and your spouse.

We’ve rounded up the physical and emotional pros and cons of procreating in your 20s, 30s and 40s.

You might be done with the stressful baby years before your career really gets going.

In your 20s

Physically…
You are at the pinnacle of reproductive health when you’re in your 20s. According to the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the UK, the ideal age for a woman to conceive is between 20 and 35, where there’s a lower risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and other complications. The risk of miscarriage is also lower.

For both mums and dads, having a baby at a younger age also means that you’re better able to cope with the sleep deprivation, run after active toddlers, and perhaps, even win at the parent-and-child race at junior’s Sports Day in school.

Emotionally…
Younger parents may be better able to relate to their kids, simply because it wasn’t too long ago they were that age themselves. Says Elisa Low, 29, mum to Cara, 7, “I actually have a lot of fun doing parent-child activities with her in Primary school. I know some of the other parents don’t, and I think it could be because I’m one of the younger ones.” Your little ones are also more likely to have more involved grandparents, since they are probably young enough to be able to help with childcare.

While younger parents may struggle a little more financially in the early years, it could also mean that you might be done with the stressful baby years before your career really takes off. Mums who want to take some time off to be with their newborns would probably be more willing to make big life changes or take a career risk, than if their careers were already established.

Socially, parents in their 20s might find themselves being distanced from their childless friends, who find that their interests no longer converge as much as they used to. This can affect the emotional stability of parents. For instance, a 2014 study that was published in the journal Pediatrics found that men who became fathers at around age 25 saw a 68 per cent increase of depressive symptoms over their first five years of being dads.