Having Babies Younger vs. Older

I am always surprised at the strong opinions people have about everyone else’s reproductive decisions, so I have no doubt that you’ve already been “enlightened” on the best age to have a baby.

I ended up having babies when I was a little older (35 and 38) and, believe me, it didn’t go unnoticed by both my family and complete strangers in the mall.

I did a little research online to see if there was a “perfect” age to have a baby. A few scientists decided that the perfect age, considering physical, social and economical factors, was 32. I don’t know how useful that is considering I know some really stable, smart 20 year-olds and some completely fucked up, piss poor 40 year-olds.

Physically, it looks like somewhere between 15 and 17 years old is your best bet and economically, well, let’s face it, never.

So really based on nothing, here are just a few factors that I think are pluses for having babies at either end of the clock.

 

Having babies when you’re younger:

  • Newer Equipment. All the gears and whistles haven’t been cranking as long so the machine is going to recover a little faster, plus there’s a lower risk for birth defects and miscarriage.
  • You don’t know any better. That’s not supposed to be offensive. I seriously think it’s a plus sometimes to just jump in blind because, c’mon, are we ever ready for motherhood?
  • More energy. Yes, yes, I know there are 60 year old spit fires out there and many of you are going to say you have more energy now than you did when you were in your twenties but generally speaking, I was better equipped to run after a toddler at 21 than I was at 38.
  • Your support system may be younger. If you are 20 and your mother was 20 when she had you, then she’s a 40-year old rockin’ grandmotherhood while other people her age are still having babies. (Note: this is a minus if she actually IS having a baby because she isn’t going to want to help with your shit show when she has her own).
  • You’re still young when you’re kids are older. How awesome would it be to have a kid leaving for college when you’re 40? Plus, they can pick you up from the bar when you’re too drunk to drive! It’s soooo much better than leaving them asleep in their carseat with the minivan window cracked.
  • You could be around for some grandkids AND great-grandkids. If everyone continues your trend, you may be around to see a lot of babies which is nice. Although, you may be expected to help out with the future generation’s back shits which isn’t great but hopefully they will have invented something that eradicates that.
  • Trailblazer. Many of your friends may not have kids already so there may be keen, well rested people that are eager to help out the new novelty of a baby.

 

Having babies when you’re older:

  • Money and career. It may not be as much of a juggle to have a baby if you have an established career and bank balance. Come to think of it, it’s easier to do just about anything with an established career and bank balance.
  • Been there, done that. You may not miss the scene that is often cramped by having a baby because you’re over it. I don’t miss the 2am partying because I did that already. Who am I kidding? I did it well. Fuckin’ A.
  • Your friends have blazed the trail. Ahhh, nothing is better than the “don’t waste your money on that stroller, it sucks.” advice and the pristine hand-me-downs from your friends that have already been in the trenches for a while.
  • Ball growth. I’m not suggesting that you don’t have balls when you’re younger, but if you were sassy kitten in your 20s, then you’re going to be a throat ripping puma in your 40s. Somebody saying something that would have made your cry 10 years ago, is now met with you deciding whether it’s cleaner to punch them in the neck or burn their house down.
  • More mellow. You may be less likely to go nuts over things when you have a little life experience to put it all in perspective. (It may add to it too but this is supposed to be a positive list.)
  • You know better. I think of what an idiot I was in my 20s so I’m happy that I’ve had those years to figure myself out before adding a baby into the mix. (Just to be clear, I’m sure I will think I was an idiot at 40 when I’m 60.)
  • Experience. I like the fact that I’ve been able to bring more life knowledge to motherhood than I would have been able to 15 years ago. I can whistle with my fingers and drive stick shift now.

Whether you decide, to have babies when you’re older or younger (or accidentally have the decision made for you), I think there are definite advantages to both sides but, at the end of the day, you need to provide love, shelter and guidance for a baby and you can do that at almost any age.

So the people that say that someone is too young or too old to have a baby better hope that they aren’t saying it to a young woman that has the energy to kick their ass or an older woman that knows how to dispose of their body.

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103 Comments

  • I just had my 20th birthday last week and I have two little boys. I had my 1st a few months before my 17th birthday. I had my 2nd just 2 months ago. My 1st was a surprise I was going into grade 11 and it was difficult at first. I was able to graduate high school with excellent marks. I then was in my 1st year of university when my boyfriend and I decided to try for our second. I was able to finish my 1st year of university. I will be returning to school this year. Also yes both my children have the same father we have been together since we were 14. I love being young and being able to chase my toddler around. I will be 35 when my 1st goes off to school and I will be 38 when my second goes. I don’t feel like I missed out on partying at all. I love my children more than anything! Although it is difficult financially I wouldn’t change a thing. I know I am a great mom to my kids and they have everything they need to grow into wonderful adults.

  • I am 38 and expecting my first. I totally identified with the ‘been there done that AND did it fuckin’ well’ comment! I actually often say that to friends when I talk about life pre-pregnancy and life before getting married at 34. No regrets here, friends! The only advice I would offer is, if you’re going to wait, ask your doctor to get your AMH tested. The test isn’t covered by our medical in BC, but I think it’s worth every penny of the $150. This test gives you a realistic idea of your ovarian reserve and, therefore, whether you have time on your side… Unfortunately, not something I found out until we were referred to a specialist and it turned out to be almost too late. Nothing a year of crazy-expensive fertility treatments couldn’t fix, though 🙂

  • I’ve just kind of come to terms with the fact that your life is your life. I was an oops baby to a 19 year old. I’m 37 and having my first. That means hubby and I have savings, good established careers, a house, and two brain cells to rub together. I could have had kids earlier, sure, but then I wouldn’t have gone back to nursing school, and I’d be stuck in a career I pretty much hated.

  • I had my first 5 days shy of my 31st birthday and am a month away from having my second at age 34. My little sister, who is 6 1/2 years younger than me had her first at 24, 6 six weeks after my first, her second 13 months later and is pregnant with her third 7 weeks after my second is due. She’ll be 28 then. So basically (after all that math!) she has done her mothering in her 20’s and I’m doing mine in my 30’s. I was so not ready for all that responsibility in my 20’s. I was working hard on my career and my husband was in grad school pursuing a Ph.D. Now we have financial stability and are comfortably settled in our dream jobs. But, man these pregnancies are much harder on me than my sister. But, my overall life is more stable. Also, I had a lot of fun in my 20’s and traveled a lot. I had a great time, so nights at home with the kids are just my speed! My sister really looks forward to her kids growing up and having more money and time with her husband, where I had 8 years before kids with mine. Very different situations. But, we both are happy with our choices. I can’t imagine becoming a parent in my 20’s, where she always says she can’t imagine becoming a parent in her 30’s! To each their own, I say!

  • I have a 19 year old, 17 year old and a baby on the way at 44, so I guess I get the choice of getting driven home from the bar OR leaving the windows cracked?

  • I LOVE this! I am 38 and pregnant with my first. ALL of my family and friends of similar age are sending their kids off to college or becoming grandparents. They are as shocked as I that my plumbing is finally pumping out life.

    I have been divorced (twice), I have traveled, I have taken risks and enjoyed more life than anyone I know. I know who I am. I know what I want. I have a confidence and swagger that will allow me to be a great mom…while not losing who I am in my core.

    Glad to know others agree!

  • Or you can try doing both, like I’m doing! Two kids before 30, and then just as the first one graduated high school I found out I was pregnant with #3. She is now 4 months old (I’m 46; hubby is 53), and it’s amazing. Well, they all are. Some things are exactly the same while others are very different because of my age, though. I write about it at nestingforlife.com.

  • There is really no right or wrong age to have a child. God only gives us what we can handle when we can handle it. That being said, when my husband and I married, we dicided not to use birth control and just let nature take it’s course. My oldest was born 18 months later at age 25, my second 16 months later at age 26, and my third 13 months after that at 27. Was it hard? Of course! We had little money and didn’t sleep for what felt like years. But now seeing my 3 boys, so close in age playing with each other was so worth it! And at 31, I am now expecting our 4th. Do I have more experence? yes. Do we have more money? yes. But does that make it a better time to have a baby? Not really. Just different and totally right for us.

  • I had my first last year at 24. Early for most of my friends, but for me, it was the perfect time for me and my husband. I didn’t have a huge career I had invested in, so it was easy to make the decision to stay at home – that doesn’t work for everyone at whatever age, but it’s incredible for us. I have no regrets, no matter what people say. Never much of a party girl, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by getting married early or having a kid early. I still got to travel by myself and have my own adventures. I also have no issues with parents who have babies at 44. But it’s not lost on me that I get to go to high school graduation at the smokin’ age of 42. The perfect age to have a baby is whenever you choose to dive in!

  • Well, I think I may be the perfect person to speak on both ends of the spectrum. I had my first at 28 years old~ with a zest for lift. I was righteous. I thought I was a better mother than anyone else (phshaw). I was very concerned about how others thought of me as a mother (even though, read above, I JUST KNEW that I was better than everyone else). I did bounce back into my pre-pregnancy body quicker. I was poor as fuck. My first husband was useless. I had no support.

    I had my second baby at 38. Definitely harder on the body. I really didn’t care what others thought. I knew better than that to follow everything rule~ drank a lot of coffee, ate chocolate (plenty), wore sneakers to work everyday and so on. I had a lot more money and yet didn’t care if anything was new (may be due to having a second child). I have a great husband who is very supportive. I now think that most mothers are "good enough" including me.

  • This post and all the lovely comments have been so helpful and reassuring! I am 28 and have recently made the decision to change careers and go back to school for dentistry. Although I feel I may be mentally and emotionally ready (and probably eager) to have children in a couple of years, the reality is that I won’t be done with dental school until I am 34 and if I can help it I have no intention of trying to be a first-time mom while going to dental school. I am passionate about this career change but the one thing that has really been making me uneasy about this decision is having to wait so long to have kids. It has been so comforting to read all of the comments, particularly from those who have had kids later in life (mid-30s and beyond), about how trying having children later really isn’t anything to worry about at all and that so many people are glad they waited until the are older. Thanks to all of you for putting this stressed out gal’s mind at ease!

  • I am 41 expecting my second (I’ll be 42 when I give birth). Had my first at 30. My thoughts…life happens. It is true, I have 11 more years of career and bank balance at my disposal this time and I have to say that gives me lots of options. However, at 30 we did just fine too. Life happens and we find a way to do what needs to be done. I figure the best blessing is a healthy baby. Let’s face it, it’s hard, tiring, busy work having a baby at any age.

  • Age 18 and pregnant. Surprisingly, no one has commented on my age, it's normal in my family to be pregnant at this age, my mother was 17 when she was pregnant with her first, my older sisters were pregnant at 18.

    I am nothing like most people my age, the thought of going out and drinking is like a nightmare to me, and throughout my life I have always put other people before myself, and it's rare for me to get in a bad mood and flip out. People tell me my mind is more like a 30 year old, rather than a teenager.

    In my opinion you shouldn't judge someone because of their age, but rather how capable and mature they are. I know quite a few adults I most definitely not trust with a child, and I know some people younger than me who are very mature, and responsible people that I trust dearly.

    • Congratulations on your pregnancy. I agree, age doesn’t really define maturity. I was an early bloomer in the maturity department, partially due to helping raise my younger siblings. I’m 26 and due with my second in about two weeks. The first I had when I was almost 25, so there will only be an 18 month gap between them. Glad I’m doing it kind of early while I still have some energy to chase after two under two.

  • I'm a 17 year old, so I guess I don't quite fit in here, but I'm glad that so many of your commentors said they had their babies at age 39 and up and are really happy because lots of my friends are walking around talking about how they cannot wait to have babies as soon as possible so whenever I tell them that I want to study and just live a while before I have a baby at when I am around 35 everyone tells me about how that is much too late.
    which means I'm glad to hear that you can be a happy mom at just about any age and I don't have to worry about not being able to properly raise a baby at 35.

  • I am 3 months shy of 35 and expecting our first in October. Truth be told, my ass wanted kids at 25. Boy would that have been a mistake, first off wrong guys at that age and I am not the same person as that 25 yr old. Much more stable now. LOL Husband and I have been married for a whopping 6 months! Bitches be telling me to spend some time being married… enjoy each other… EXCUSE ME! have you seen the rings around my ovaries? Count them..I'm getting old bitches. We are ever so excited to be expecting our first. We spoke of the whole are we financially ready thing. No, will we ever be? With a wedding to pay off and moving expenses from moving across the country shit is going to be tight. And we want more than one baby so looks like I wont be a spring chicken pushing out babies. My sister got pregnant at 20 and although her internal baby making equipment might have been nicer, she is Fd up in the head. Just now starting to figure life out. So i guess I'd rather be in my shoes than my sisters. Although I dont like worrying about the risks of being pregnant at my age, i figure those 'risks' can happen at any age. I just hope we can be done with our 2nd or 3rd by the time I am 39. I dont know if I made a point or if I had one. To my defense, I have thrown up 4 times this morning.

  • I had my 1st child at 37 – she was born the same yr as 3 of her cousins. To me that was perfect timing. We had been married for 6 yrs and really thought that kids were not part of our future (we were ok w/that). I will be 41 when my 2nd is born (Feb 14) – and once again this one comes w/in 6 months of 2 cousins. For me, God's timing has been perfect; I wouldn't change a thing.

  • when i found out i was pregnant a few months ago (at age 27) i couldn't get a hold of my dad to tell him, so i just texted him a picture of our ultrasound at six weeks. he didn't get back to me for two days, and when he did, all he said was "am i too young to be a grandpa?" i wrote back "am i too young to be a mom? don't think so!!" you adjust and adapt, at whatever age that you plan, or are surprised by a bebe. it's all about the way you look at it 🙂

  • I am 37 and pregnant with my first. While I don't think anything about what age anyone is when they have kids, for me personally, I see why it was intended for us to maybe have kids when we were younger. It's physically pretty hard on your body. Between the nearly 4 months of puking, wetting my pants everytime I sneeze, and my hips aching so bad I feel like I have arthritis, I am pretty sure that this little girl we are having will be our only kid!

    With that being said, I was no where near mature enough to be a mom any earlier than right now. I always thought I didn't want to have kids at all! The only reason I was even interested in considering becoming a mother and starting a family is because of my husband. I learned it wasn't that I didn't want to have kids, I just didn't have someone that I could be in a parenting partnership with. That was a HUGE difference for me!

  • i am 39 and pregnant with my first. my dad called me senior mom when i told him i was pregnant.

    i'm glad i waited because i have been self-absorbed for so long. i am now ready to let someone else share the center of the universe.

    the established career was hard to let go but i'm feeling good about getting my 12 weeks maternity leave. my first long "vacation" in 18 years!

  • Hey it's awesome either way, I suppose, I had my twins, boy and a girl when I was 45, now ten years later its a blast, I have good well mannered children. And they know they can find Mommy at the computer at night, instead of at Larry's Tavern.

    It's been great!

  • 1@18, 2@19, 3@23, 4@25
    some people think i'm crazy first thing people ask me is are they all from the same dad (you only have to look at them as they all take after dad) some are even shocked to find out i breastfeed and use cloth nappies but most just see a happy family and leave us alone. I'm glad i had them at the age i did i know i missed out on a lot of things as a teenager but i see the rest of my life to do the things i always wanted to do and hopefully with all my family too

  • I always wonder why people are such the age police when it comes to babies (and really only age police when it comes to the woman. Whatever time is right for you (assuming you are an adult!), if you are still capable of being pregnant–more power to you. All I know is I was an "older" mother and it worked out well for me (maybe because I do have the same amount of energy at 40 as at 21, probably because I need to sleep less and have worked out for 15 years now). I would have been one of those wondering what the hell I missed out on when I was younger, but some people just don't care about that stuff.

  • I had my first two children when I was 20 and 22. I am now 32 and almost 16 weeks pregnant. I can see pros and cons for both age groups, but I must say that I feel more "educated" as a mom this time around. I have spent more time scouring the internet for all things baby than I care to admit. Luckily for me, my two oldest are at the perfect age to be mommy's little helpers. =)

  • People are sooo annoying with the age at which you should have your kids! I had my son at 31, but I look like I'm 20something. During the last month of my pregnancy, I got stopped on the street by an old lady who just gave me shit because I was too young to have kids. I let her spit it out. Then I just told her: "Ma'am, I'm 31." She went blank and I just walk away.

  • I hope to have it all! I had my 1st at 24, 2nd at 27, 3rd at 28 and then my husband got snipped. I hope that it fails when I'm 36-45 and we could have those later in life twins! I'll let you know how that goes

  • I was 19 when I had my son and I'm 20 now and actually in labor with my little girl. (Hubby and I got married at 18. We'll both be 21 in Feb.) Having our boy changed our lifes in a way we weren't ready for, but now we can't picture our lives without him! I love that I have enough energy to play with him (not now, of course…) and that Hubby and I will be 39 when he goes to college and 40 when our little does. We're nuts about our kids but we're looking forward to having time as just a couple again.

  • I love this post. Why? I am exactly 32 and due with my second (a boy) in early June. I think this is the perfect age for me because my career is in a good place but I'm still young enough to chase my boys around. (Most days, anyway.)

  • I'm 25 and pregnant with my first. (I'll turn 26 before she arrives.)I just did the calculation, and I'll be 44 when she leaves for college. Or maybe I can get her to stay. We have two excellent universities in the area, one of which I'm an alumnae of. Maybe I can convince her to go to Mommy's alma mater, and then I can show here the right bars, the great parties…I can even join her at a few of them. "Mom, it's MY turn to funnel Natural Ice! Back off! Go back to your beer pong game!"

  • Luna! I feel for you! I'm one of 8 kids (the second oldest). I haaaaated everything about taking care of small people. And I've had nanny jobs since then, I used to hate it when I was working on farms and my bosses would be like "Oh, my kids love you! Why don't you babysit?" Um. Yeah, they love me because I cuss like a sailor and always have soda and Doritos in my locker… That'd probably change when I'm babysitting them… (not as a nanny, I was a pretty good nanny, but as a farm hand/babysitter? Um… not so good)

    Now I'm expecting my first and am telling my hubby not to cuss, looking at recipes for all natural babyfood and in general becoming "one of those people". I am glad I found a middle ground even if by accident. I'll be in my early 40s when this one leaves the house, and that is totally alright with me, but I also got to do a lot of the things I wanted to do before I had a family. I mean there's still a lot I want to do but most of them would have been pretty hard with a toddler.

  • I was visiting my mom a couple weeks ago when she said, " do you realize you will be 44 when he (my son) goes to college?" My mom was 43 when she had my brother. I said, "I know, it will be great!" I expecting #2 (and our last) and I'll be 46 when she goes to college. Ahhhhh I love that thought!

  • Let me tell you something. I used to be terrified to have kids. Then I got some spiritual perspective and manned up and said ok i'll just do it one day… then i became a live-in nanny three months ago and basically I want to die. I am simultaneously baby hungery and sort of hating short people… no, maybe i just hate the parents… who could be me… but they're not… it's 3 am

  • I had my boys at 19 and 20. We all kind of grew up together and now they are pretty awesome adults….and I'm not 40 yet. Was it hard in the beginning? Oh yeah, but they've been worth every second. Now they are getting ready to leave and empty nesting is starting to kick in wicked hardcore. I keep thinking to myself, now what?

  • Well, well, well…….I loved this post due to the fact that at the age of 46 I am surprisingly pregnant with number four. I had number one at 29/ number two at 32/SURPRISE number three at 42 and tada…..number four at 46 all with the same guy I've been with since the age of fifteen. Why? Only God knows that answer, but this last gift happened during a very sad crisis of my two favorite people dying this past summer. I lost my favorite sister to Colon Cancer at the age of 60. By the way, she was 15 years older than I am. I adored her. I also lost my dad a month later because he just could not live without her and at the age of 83 he passed away due to Congestive Heart Failure. I miss them terribly, but have been left a gift in their honor. So my theory is all children are gifts. Are we ever ready for them? No. Not emotionally, not physically and certainly not economically unless we are movie stars. I have co-workers that are subconsciously jealous of this condition of mine and others that think I am a complete idiot. I do care about what they say for a moment and then realize……It's not their problem…..or life and I wouldn't want to trade lives with anyone. We all have the same issues to an extent. We just have different names. So my latest crisis…is the name game and actually realizing that life is going to change for the better in six weeks whether I am ready for it or NOT!
    🙂 True Story.

  • How awesome would it be to have a kid leaving for college when you're 40? Plus, they can pick you up from the bar when you're too drunk to drive!

    I have totally done this for my mom!

  • Hey, how do you whistle with your fingers anyway? Can't believe I've lived this long without knowing — always figured it was one of those life skills that would come in handy with errant children and dogs alike.

    Great post. I'm glad I had my bunch exactly when I did — 32, 34 and 35. (No way I could've survived those last two in my forties.)

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