What is the best age for women to have kids?

Is there an ideal age to start a family?

When is the ideal time to have kids?

We asked YOU, our readers, as well as our staff members at NEXT, to tell us what the best age is for having kids – and you responded in your droves.

NEXT Sub Editor Maria Hoyle said children were never in her original life plan, but in her mid 30s, her biological clock “suddenly went crazy – ticking loudly and urgently.”

Having her first child at 38, Maria admits she paid the price initially for having kids late – adding that she was worried her babies would have health problems because of her age, and found it harder to deal with the tiredness that comes with being a new mum.

But the rewards she reaped from having a rich and full life before her daughters were greater than she expected.

“My teenage daughters love to hear about the places I travelled to, the things I got up to in my ‘former existence’ in London, the strange places I lived, the even stranger people I met, the newspapers and magazines I worked on… not to mention an intense seven-year period of political activism (especially interesting to my older daughter, who is now studying politics at uni). I’m not saying you have to do those things for your kids to appreciate you, not at all. But I love to share those memories with them, and to let them know I have no regrets, and that there’s a rich and wonderful world out there.”

In contrast, expectant mother Sara Laight says she’s seriously considered having kids since she was 19. Now, at 24, she is about to have her first child and couldn’t imagine it any other way.

“For me it wasn’t so much about wanting to be a young mum as it was that I just felt really ready to be a mum. I felt like I had already ticked off a lot of the standard reasons for waiting to start a family, I have travelled a lot and spent a year living abroad so the great Kiwi OE was already out of my system. I started working in media when I was 19, now have a good job in my industry so I am financially stable and I was in a long term relationship with someone who also wanted to have a family.

“When my child is an adult I will be in my 40s and hypothetically free to travel, embrace new goals, adventures. My mum was 24 when she had me and now my youngest sister (seven years younger than me) is about to move out of home. Not yet 50, she is planning another OE with my dad to ski their bucket list slopes.”

We were overwhelmed with arguments from different sides – and we’ve picked a few of our favourites for this gallery.

Benefits of both

“I was a mum at 16, then a mum again at 30. What an experience I’ve had at both ages.. Wouldn’t change it for the world. I learnt a lot at such a young age, and I’m still learning at 30… The hardest thing about being a “young mum” is others. Everyone judged you, at 30 others keep their opinions to themselves. Both ages come with different feelings. I wouldn’t recommend any 16 year old to have a child lol, but I’m at the end of that tunnel now and can look back and smile.. At 30, I’m more patient and my body image isn’t such a big deal. I’m more happy in my skin.”

Chelsea, via Facebook

Life doesn’t go according to plan

“Planned to have kids by 30 but life just didn’t work out that way. 38 now and about to have my first now. It’s hard going physically being older but I think I am more chilled out.”

Tanya, via Facebook

There is no ideal

“I don’t think there is an ideal age. Any age has advantages or disadvantages. Husband and I have 6 children. Our eldest child was born when I was 21, and our youngest when I was 41. The others at 29, 32, 36 and 38. Definitely get more tired now than I did with our oldest, but on the other hand I know a lot more than I did then. It’s hard work at any age, but it’s well worth it!”

Lucy, via Facebook

I wasn’t ready till almost 40

“Had my first at 40 and second at 42, I so wasn’t ready any time before my late 30s, had a great number of years partying and travelling, I’m much more settled now, less itchy travel feet, yes I’m much more tired but doing it by myself from the beginning is my excuse not age. If I get another chance at life then I’ll try to be a younger mum just for the change.”

Lorna, via Facebook

I started young, and am now 40 with no dependants

“I had my first daughter at the age of 15, 2nd daughter at 17 and my son at 22. Went on and became a Registered Nurse at the age of 33 and I’m 40 now with no dependants or full on responsibility that comes with raising children. I was very lucky with family support. I wouldn’t go around promoting having kids so young because we as a society don’t live like ‘villages’ any more …. hope that changes. On a physiology level between 15-22 is the optimum for the human body to grow and give birth and have the energy to raise the child … its society that says it is wrong. I felt I was missing out the the social aspect of being a teenager, that was a bit challenging.”

Erin, via Facebook

I feel less judged as an older mother

“What a lovely bunch of responses…. I’ve done both ways… My first at 19/20yrs single and then another 3 when I was in my 30’s married. All boys! I had a lot more energy when I was younger and I took Sam everywhere with me, to music festivals, travelling, university etc. it was awesome and he is a fabulous young man because if it. My other three boys are being raised in a more financially stable home with my husband and I working bla bla bla…. Doing it the right way according to society. Less energy for sure! Less quality time, less time to really relate to the kids, less connection in a way…. But a lot less judgement!”

Ana, via Facebook

You can’t control it

“The challenge with this is that we can’t control this one. Even if there is a mythical ideal age. Can’t control when you meet the person you want to have a baby with. Nor your body and if you can actually get pregnant.”

Katherine, via Facebook

I was too busy having fun in my 20s

“I’m about to have my first at 40. My twenties and thirties were awesome. I would never have been able to live that way with a child. I have no concerns that taking the next year off will undo all of my career advancements.”

Gabrielle, via Facebook

Finding a partner is my priority

“I’m 34 and don’t have kids or a partner. If I do meet someone (say in the next year), the last thing I want to do is rush into babies .. so hypothetically I could have a baby at 40. But I don’t feel like my ovaries are aching or anything like that. I would really just like to find my soul mate and worry about the rest later.”

Annette, via Facebook

Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories