We wish we'd had babies in our thirties, admit 80 per cent of first-time parents in their forties
23:31 GMT, 9 March 2012
The question of when is the right time to have a baby may never be answered but a new study shows there is a perceived ideal age among older parents.
Despite the growing number of mothers 40 years old and over, 80 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men said that the 'optimal age for parenting' are the thirties.
The University of California, San Francisco, interviewed 170 people in the small but telling survey.
The baby question: Researchers say that our thirties are a 'compromise' between the immaturity of youth and health problems of middle age
Researchers questioned couples and single women who were specifically chosen because they were nearing the end of their reproductive potential.
Many of them had used in vitro fertilisation to conceive their first child when they were over the age of 40.
The answers revealed there is a perception for an 'optimal age' when lifestyle and health considerations are taken into account.
'A majority of women and men in the study believed that childbearing later in life resulted in advantages for themselves and their families,' the researchers told the journal Human Reproduction.
Advantages to having kids in your thirties included being emotionally prepared, more financially stable and having better life skills.
Disadvantages to having children over the age of 40 included a lack of energy and the stigma attached to being older parents.
Parents in their twenties were considered more financially challenged and less devoted to family time.
'Parenting as thirty year old was regarded as a 'compromise' between the immaturity of the twenties and the health issues faced by those over the age of 40, said the study.
The findings demonstrated that there were disadvantages and advantages to having children at any age and that circumstance often predetermines when people have kids, rather than choice.
Most of the participants said they would have had children at a younger age but couldn't due to reproductive problems and the need for IVF.