If you’re wondering what’s the best age to have a baby, I’ve got some very important thoughts for you. It is my opinion that having children is one of the best things you’ll ever do. Children make like more meaningful. Their love will fill the household. But children are also hard work and your happiness will likely plummet in the initial years due to a lack of freedom.
As a 45-year-old dad of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, I’m reminded of my old age every time I bend over to pick up my little one. My lower back aches and my knees sometimes dangerously buckle if they bend too far. Oh to be 25 again!
But then I realize that because we are older parents, we don’t have the same stresses as younger first-time parents. We’re not stressed about going over a baby budget because we don’t have to strictly follow one.
Both of us don’t have traditional jobs to commute to. And we’ve built our cozy little dream home in San Francisco. Having more time to spend with our little ones is priceless, especially the first five years before kindergarten.
We therefore have two variables to discuss to come up with the best age to have a baby: The Biological Best Age and The Economical Best Age.
Given money is the root of all pain and suffering, it’s important to dig deeper into the Economical Best Age. Most articles you read on the subject only address the Biological Best Age.
The Biological Best Age To Have A Baby
We can first approach the best age to have a baby through biology. After all, biology is the most important factor in being able to have a baby.
It wasn’t until about age 35 that I started seriously considering having a baby. My wife was 32 years old at the time, and they say a woman’s oocytes are best before age 35. We were shown a series of graphs like the ones below regarding decreasing fertility rates and increasing miscarriage rates as a woman ages.
As you can see from the first chart, after the age range of 35 – 39, the rate of spontaneous abortion doubles from ~25% to 51%. Meanwhile, the fertility rate slumps from roughly 340 to 170 per 1000 married women.
I don’t have to explain that going through a spontaneous abortion is a psychologically traumatizing event, especially if you’ve been trying for years.
According to one study by Dunson, David B. PhD; Baird, Donna D. PhD; Colombo, Bernardo PhD, the percentage infertility was estimated at 8% for women aged 19–26 years, 13–14% for women aged 27–34 years, 18% for women aged 35–39 years. Infertility is defined as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year.
Related: The Difficulties Of Pregnancy
Getting Pregnant And Staying Pregnant
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.
The cost for each IUI is roughly $1,000 – $1,600. The success rate for a 30-year old woman with infertility issues is only about 20% a month. For a 43-year old woman with infertility issues, the success rate drops to only 1% a month according to the Advanced Fertility Center in Chicago.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body. Below is a chart of miscarriage rates by age after a IVF cycle. Starting around the age of 37, you can see the slope steepen. At around 44 years old, you only have a 50% chance of conceiving through IVF.
IVF is much more difficult on a woman due to the drugs, hormonal changes, and number of doctors visits required. Further, the cost of IVF is roughly $12,000 – $17,000 per cycle. Can you imagine the stress and sadness of not only losing $17,000, but also failing to conceive after each attempt? Devastating.
Based on the data, the biological ideal age to have a baby is in your early 20s, and no later than 40. Of course, having a baby after age 40 can be done, as Halle Berry showed us when she gave birth at age 47.
Just know the chances of complications are much higher, as are the chances of spending tens of thousands of dollars with no success.
The Economical Best Age To Have A Baby
Now that we’ve gone through the best age to have a baby by biology, we should look at the financial aspect of having a baby.
Some will disagree, but I believe it’s best not to have a baby if you are unable to take care of yourself. In other words, if you are drowning in debt, can’t hold a stable job, aren’t saving any money for a rainy day, are hooking up with multiple partners, don’t truly love your partner, and love to snort cocaine every time you go out, it’s best not to be a parent.
Babies are an incredible joy, but require a tremendous amount of time for proper care. For the first several months, my wife and I each spent 20 – 24 hours a day with our little one. In order to do so, we purposefully engineered our lifestyles to live off passive income so we wouldn’t have to work for someone else, ever.
When our baby started sleeping more than four hours straight a night, we finally felt like we could breathe again. Now that both of our kids can sleep through the night most of the time, we have a more balanced life.
If we had experienced money stress on top of baby care stress and sleep deprivation, there’s no doubt we would have a strained relationship. But because our finances were taken care of, we never fought and only went through occassional mood swings when the postpartum hormones on both sides randomly kicked in for no reason.
Let me suggest some financial guidelines you should consider before having a baby. Please note I’m assuming you’ve already found the right stable partner.
1) A Net Worth Target Before Having Kids
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child is roughly $233,000 from 0 – 17 starting in 2015. If you add in expected inflation, the cost rises to roughly $284,000. And if you add on college tuition, room, and board, the figure easily jumps to roughly $500,000. However, if you have a baby in 2020+, it might cost you over a million dollars to raise him or her through college.
Most of us want to send our kids to college. Therefore, have a net worth target goal of between $233,000 – $500,000 before having kids. This way, you will have a net worth equal to at least the cost of raising one kid through college. Yes, of course you can have kids with much less wealth and be fine. I’m just providing some guidelines for those who enjoy analyzing for the future
Because I started my career in NYC and ended my career in San Francisco, the cost of living was much higher than average. As a result, my colleagues and I punted around the idea of shooting for a $1 million net worth before starting a family.
We definitely didn’t need a $1 million net worth, it was just a fun target to shoot for in order to make sure we could properly take care of our spouse and little one in case we were the only income earners. With the median home price at over $1.6 million in San Francisco in 2020, a $1 million net worth doesn’t seem that unreasonable.
2) A Career Milestone Target Before Having A Baby
Having a baby may or may not derail your career progression due to workplace discrimination and necessary time off to take care of your little one. I’m completely for each parent taking a minimum of three months parental leave, and working from home a couple more months if possible. Understandably, some employers don’t see it this way given how competitive business is today.
For any aspiring ladder climber, your 20s is a time to earn your stripes. You’re generally a cost center to the company, which means you don’t come from a position of strength. Only after you start generating more benefits than you cost will you gain negotiating power. And only after your company has promoted you to a certain level will they believe in your value.
Given this logic, you might consider having a baby only after achieving a third promotion or greater. The first promotion doesn’t count for much since you’re going from junior bottom feeder to senior bottom feeder. But by promotion number three, it’s clear you’re actually creating a lot of value for your organization.
Three or more promotions is not a fluke, which means you should feel confident knowing that you’ve actually got good enough skills other companies want too.
My career milestone goal was to make Vice President (Analyst, Associate, VP, Director, Managing Director) before seriously thinking about family. After getting promoted to VP, I felt a tremendous sense of relief because I knew that if I was ever laid off, I had a high chance of getting hired as a VP at a different investment bank.
Related: How To Get Paid And Promoted Faster
3) An Income Target Before Having A Baby
According to Princeton economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, $75,000 is the income level researchers have deemed where happiness no longer increases the more you make. They partnered with Gallup to survey 450,000 Americans in 2008 and 2009. Thanks to inflation, I believe that income level is closer to $100,000 a year in 2022.
I argue the ideal income level for maximum happiness is closer to $250,000 per couple, especially if you live in an expensive coastal city like San Francisco.
According to the US Department of Housing and Development in 2020, a San Francisco family of four with an income of $105,350 per year is considered “low income.” In San Francisco, you can actually qualify for subsidized housing if you make only $100,000 a year.
Therefore, I recommend making $100,000 or more as a household if you live in the heartland of America, or $250,000 if you live in a coastal city before having children. With such income, you’ll be able to ideally afford to buy a home, comfortably pay for children expenses, and save at least 20% of your salary for retirement.
The Best Age To Have A Baby
At what age range can you come up with a $233,000 – $500,000 minimum net worth, get your third promotion, and earn $88,000 – $250,000 a year? The answer is somewhere between 30 – 35 for focused couples. Combine the biological factors found in the first part of this post, and the age range of 30 – 35 seems like the best age to have a baby.
If I were to choose a specific age, I’d choose 32 as the best age to have a baby for a woman or man because the parent will have roughly 10 years of post college life experience. It takes time to mature as a working adult.
10 years of doing anything should give you enough confidence to take the next step if you so choose. You’re still in a biologically low risk zone and have had plenty of time to get your finances in order.
Whatever age you feel is ideal, start one or two years before that ideal age because it takes on average 7 to 8 months to conceive if you have no issues.
It’s also important to think about minimizing divorce/breakups after having a baby. One would think that the older you are, the more you know what you want and don’t want in a partner. The more relationships you go through, the higher the chance you’ll find one that sticks, although not always the case.
The cost of having many children isn’t just the money. It is also the stress of raising children and what might happen to children if neglected.
However, there are some unexpected financial benefits of having children as well. Overall, we are “saving” about $100,000 in expenses we thought we’d have to spend by now. Further, we bought two properties to house our growing family in 2019 and 2020. As a result, the real estate equity has increased tremendously.
You Want Children To Be Part Of Your Life For Longer
Here’s another important insight on the best time to have a baby. When you have your baby, you will love him or her like you’ve never loved anyone before. Therefore, you will wish you had your baby sooner, so you could have spent a greater portion of your remaining life together.
One of my biggest regrets is not having my children five years sooner. But I can’t go back into the past. I can only help those of you who are thinking of having a baby to consider all the variables.
Once your baby is around 9-10-months old, you mind find yourself wanting to have another baby. This is because everyone is sleeping a little better and a mother’s body has healed or almost fully healed. Evolution, I tell yah!
Therefore, if you want to have multiple babies, you must plan ahead and best start before age 35.
Having A Baby During A Pandemic
Finally, times have been difficult and uncertain during the COVID19 pandemic. Even though stocks, bonds, and real estate have recovered, there is still a lot of uncertainty given a potential recession ahead.
Despite the uncertainty, I’ve found that having a baby during a pandemic is actually pretty good. We had our daughter in mid-December 2019. Given we were going to stay at home anyway, a pandemic didn’t change our plans.
First of all, hospitals take extra safety precautions now due to COVID. Therefore, you may actually feel safer during your hospital stay.
Second of all, going for your baby checkups also feels safe due to all the precautions. You’ll likely get more space and fewer crowds.
Third, you likely won’t be traveling much for the first 3-6 months of your baby’s life. Therefore, not leaving your house is not a big deal since you weren’t going to leave much anyway.
Finally, a greater percentage of both parents get to spend more time with the baby. This is probably the biggest benefit of having a baby during a pandemic. If you can work from home and take care of your baby, you are double winning.
Recommendations For Parents
1) Get term life insurance.
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us is that tomorrow is not guaranteed. All parents need to get a term life insurance policy to cover all liabilities and expenses until their children are independent adults. The easiest way to compare quotes is by checking rates for free on Policygenius.
My wife was able to double her life insurance coverage (to match mine) and pay less with Policygenius. Policygenius gets qualified life insurance carriers to compete for your business. As a result, you can see multiple customized quotes all in one place. The pandemic has hammered home the importance of having life insurance to protect our families.
2) Stay on top of your finances.
College tuition is now prohibitively expensive if your child doesn’t get any grants or scholarships. Therefore, it’s important to save and plan for your child’s future.
Check out Personal Capital’s new Planning feature, a free financial tool that allows you to run various financial scenarios to make sure your retirement and child’s college savings is on track. They use your real income and expenses to help ensure the scenarios are as realistic as possible.
Once you’re done inputting your planned saving and timeline, Personal Capital with run thousands of algorithms to suggest what’s the best financial path for you. You can then compare two financial scenarios (old one vs. new one) to get a clearer picture. Just link up your accounts.
There’s no rewind button in life. Therefore, it’s best to plan for your financial future as meticulously as possible. It’s better to end up with a little too much, than too little!
I’ve been using their free tools since 2012 to analyze my investments and I’ve seen my net worth skyrocket since.
Readers, what do you think is the best age to have a baby or best age range to have a baby? At what age did you have a baby? Note: If you plan on having more than two children, then I think the ideal age goes down about two or three years per extra child e.g. three children = 29-30. Consider adoption as well.
For more nuanced personal finance content, join 50,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. We’ll talk family finances, making money, and so much more!