March 2, 2010 / 5:23 PM / 7 years ago

Mid to late 20s best age to have a first baby: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - When is the ideal age to have or adopt a first baby? For most women it is between the ages of 25 to 34 years old.

Slightly more than 75 percent of women questioned in a joint survey by ForbesWoman.com and TheBump.com believe it is the perfect time to become a mother. Forty-two percent narrowed it down further to 25-29 years old, and 17 percent said there was no best age.

Women felt that by their mid-to-late 20s they were more likely to have established themselves in their career and financially, and were ready to take on a new role, according to the poll. A ticking biological clock was a factor for only 21 percent of women.

"Women are looking for a good balance." said Jenna Goudreau, of ForbesWoman.com who worked on the survey. "The number one factor in coming up with this ideal age bracket was career and financial security."

The poll included responses from 2,210 women, nearly half of whom were mothers. More than 50 percent of women without children said they planned to have two children, while slightly more than a third intended to have three or more.

"One of the things we were trying to do with the study is not only find the ideal age to become a mom but to become a mom and have a successful career, as half of the workforce are women now," Goudreau explained.

Although many women combined, or planned to combine, motherhood with a job, 62 percent believe having children has a negative impact on a career. But only 30 percent of working mothers said it had affected their own career.

"I did find that women who have their children younger tend not to earn as much money in their lifetimes," said Goudreau, adding that the younger women are when they have their first child, the less invested they tend to be in their career.

Paid maternity leave and flexible working hours were the most common benefits provided by employers, according to the poll. Only about three percent of women said their company provided job shares and less than six percent had on-site child care.

Among the mothers questioned in the poll 68 percent said they were happy with the timing of their first child. The majority had children before their 35th birthday. About 60 percent of women who had their first child between 35 to 39 said they wish they had been younger.

For most of the working mothers going back to work after having a baby was a financial necessity. Most worked the same amount of hours they did before giving birth.

Sixty-three percent of working moms said they were following in the footsteps of their own mothers who had juggled a family and a career.

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