Perhaps a close friend has recently announced their pregnancy or adoption plans. Being an aunt, for example, could be one of your greatest joys. Maybe it’s like the scene in Baby Mama where Tina Fey photographs everyone with adorable toddler faces. Whatever the case may be, you’ve been wondering, “Am I ready to have a baby?” And, wow, isn’t that a loaded question?
What to Know Before Considering Expanding Your Family.
Before having a baby, there are numerous factors to consider, ranging from child care to financial considerations to your own health. But, as licensed psychologist Rachel Needle, PsyD, points out, the first thing to consider is whether both partners are on board.
“When it comes to the children, it’s also important to make sure you and your partner (s) are on the same page when it comes to big issues like finances, discipline, schooling, space, and religion,” she adds. Before you make a decision, you should discuss all of these issues with your partner.
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Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., an OB-GYN and clinical professor at Yale University, adds that both parents’ health should be considered. She explains that while age does play a role in fertility (especially for the person who is pregnant), there are a number of things you can do to ensure that you and your body are ready for pregnancy. (I’ll get to that later.)
Am I Ready to Have a Baby Financially?
The costs and financial responsibilities of parenthood can be daunting for those who do want to start a family. Increased medical bills, child care costs, increased insurance needs, and other expenses will strain new parents’ budgets. Check off these financial milestones to see if you’re ready to have a baby in your home, according to financial planners, so you can confidently enter this new phase of life.
Budget for new expenses.
Couples can budget for the extra cost of having a child by adding cost estimates to their current budget to get an idea of what to expect.
According to a 2017 USDA report, a child costs $12,350 to $13,900 per year for a two-child family with married parents earning between $59,200 and $107,400. The cost varies depending on the family’s income and the child’s age.
Creating a budget for a new family, according to Lamar Watson, founder and financial planner at Dream Financial Planning in the Washington, D.C. area, may require some sacrifices.
You must begin with a budget and you must be truthful with your budget. Be open and honest about what you’re willing to give up. ” If you want a child in the Washington, D.C. area (or even nationally), it’ll cost you a mortgage payment or more in some places, Watson explains. “You’re not going to as many bars and restaurants as you used to.” There are things in the budget that will correct themselves if you think of it as a lifestyle change.
Prepare for the cost of child care.
During the first three to four years of a child’s life, child care will most likely be the most expensive expense for a family.
“It’s unfortunate that families must factor this into their family planning so heavily.” If you need medical care in this country, you should be able to find affordable and high-quality care nearby. ” Child Care Aware of America’s chief of policy and practice, Mario Cardona, agrees. He does, however, state that “the cost of child care continues to be exorbitant.” Except for housing in the West, it outpaces the cost of just about any household expense in the country. “
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According to a report by Child Care Aware of America, the average annual cost of child care was around $9,100 to $9,600 in 2019. Costs, on the other hand, vary greatly by region.
For example, in California, the average annual cost of center-based infant child care was $16,452, or 17.5 percent of the state’s median household income. The annual cost of center-based infant child care in Arkansas was $6,443, accounting for 8.9% of the state’s median household income.
Examine the policies of your employer
The United States is one of only a few UN members without a legal requirement for paid parental leave.
Nonetheless, many employers in the United States provide paid leave for primary caregivers, and some are moving to provide paid leave for secondary caregivers, which families can take advantage of during their child’s first weeks and months of life.
“Knowing whether or not you’ll receive paid time off is an important factor when budgeting for expenses during this time,” wrote Brian Eder, co-founder, part-partner, and wealth management advisor at Voyage Wealth Architects in Minnesota. “Consider your company’s paternity or maternity leave policy; if paid leave isn’t an option, consider other short-term options such as disability insurance.”
Obtain adequate insurance protection
Couples must budget not only for the cost of having a baby in the hospital but also for prenatal and pediatrician visits. Labor and delivery hospital costs typically range from $11,000 to $15,000, according to Eder, but can vary depending on a family’s health insurance plan and any birth complications.
As a result, experts say that looking into health-care coverage options—especially if a couple can choose between family plans through one person’s employer or another—can help save money in the long run. In order to protect themselves against worst-case scenarios, new parents should also consider purchasing other types of insurance.
Long-Term savings goals must be balanced
Many couples are attempting to strike a balance between their savings goals, such as purchasing a home and saving for retirement, and the cost of starting a family. A budget can aid in the achievement of these objectives, as well as any new objectives that families may set after the birth of a child, such as saving for educational expenses.
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Eder advises, “If you plan to pay for your child’s education, consider opening a college savings account (i.e., a 529 account) to help you budget for college tuition and other education-related costs.” “It’s best to get started as soon as possible.” The financial goals of each couple will differ, but learning the financial basics and creating a budget to prioritize expenses and goals sooner rather than later can help couples manage the costs of this major life change.
“The months leading up to welcoming your new child are the best times to prepare, save money, get proper insurance, and write a will,” Eder says. “You’ll never have as much time to finish these crucial tasks as you do now before your new baby arrives.”
Am I Ready to Have a Baby Questions?
Here’s a list of questions Minkin and Needle suggest you and your partner talk about if you’re thinking about having a child together. It’s a good sign if you both agree on the following questions:
- Are you and your partner on board with the idea of having a baby?
- Do you and your partner both have good health?
- Are you financially ready to take on the responsibility of raising a child?
- What plans do you have for child care?
- Where will the child attend daycare, school, and other activities?
- Who will be willing to take time off work when the baby is young, or later when they are sick?
- Which of you has a job that will allow you to care for the baby while also allowing you to work?
- Are you willing to make sacrifices in terms of time, money, and energy?
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- What values do you want your children to inherit?
- Will you raise the child according to a specific religion?
- Is your marriage strong enough to have a baby?
- How are you going to conceive?
- Are you ready to give up some aspects of your independence?
- Is it true that I want children?
- What impact will having a baby have on my career/education now?
Signs You’re Ready to Have a Baby
#1. You recognize and accept your responsibilities.
Because having children entails a great deal of responsibility, one sign that you’re ready is that you understand, acknowledge, and accept everything that comes with being a parent. Having a child, according to licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST, isn’t always glamorous (in fact, it’s rarely glamorous), and it necessitates a great deal of flexibility in terms of time, money, and your own personal life. Are you ready to make sacrifices and changes to your current lifestyle in order to meet the demands of child-rearing?
#2. It’s not like you’re checking a box.
Many couples, according to Blaylock-Solar, may feel as if having a baby is just another item on a checklist of things they’re “supposed to” do as adults or as a married couple. However, having a baby out of obligation or without thinking about whether or not you want to be parents can lead to frustration and disappointment later on, when you’re in the midst of child-rearing stress. If you don’t feel obligated to have a baby but both of you want one, that’s a sign you’re truly ready.
#3. Both you and your partner are healthy and fit.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the health risks that come with pregnancy and childbirth. According to Minkin, if you live a healthy lifestyle, don’t smoke, and take a vitamin with folic acid, you’re much more likely to conceive. After all, even if you want a baby, your body may say no—but if you’re taking proactive steps to care for and prepare your body, Minkin says that’s another factor to consider when deciding whether or not you’re ready to have a baby.
#4. Your relationship is in a good place.
It’s important to evaluate your relationship with each other, in addition to both partners’ being on board with having a baby. It’s easy to believe that having a baby will help, if not save, your relationship, but this isn’t the case, according to Blaylock-Solar. She claims that having a child will only add to the strain in your relationship, which is bad for you, your partner, and your baby. Before moving forward, make sure your relationship is truly healthy and happy. If you’re aware that you’re both present, that’s even more proof that you’re ready to be a parent.
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#5. You recognize that your child will have his or her own distinct personality.
Finally, understanding that your child will be their own person and accepting them for who they are is an important part of being a parent (at least a loving, supportive one). You’re ready, according to Blaylock-Solar, if you understand and accept that you can do your absolute best, but your baby will still have their own free will.
Am I Ready to Have a Baby Quiz
That’s a difficult question to answer right away. Everything is contingent on you, your life, your partner, your financial situation, and so on. Being a parent is a big responsibility that requires a lot of thought. So don’t get ahead of the game!
Take this quiz to find out if we think you’re ready to have a baby. However, take the outcome with a grain of salt. A child is neither a toy nor a companion animal. It’s a huge responsibility that will follow you for the rest of your life!
This quiz is only for entertainment purposes. A baby is not a toy or a pet, and I cannot emphasize this enough. A baby is a huge responsibility that cannot be determined by a simple questionnaire. Before you have a child, think about how much of a change it will make in your life.
It’s a wonderful and desirable thing if you feel ready to have a baby. And if you’re having second thoughts now, that’s perfectly fine! You probably have more time than you think, and making sure you’re as ready as possible will only benefit you, your partner, and your baby.
Furthermore, if having a child as soon as possible is your top priority but you’re unsure if you can afford it, take a look at how you’re currently spending your money. Is your spending in line with your stated top priority? If not, you may need to make some adjustments and sacrifices in order to free up cash flow and prepare financially for parenthood.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to being a good parent. Above all, a baby requires your love, attention, presence, and commitment. Accepting help and hand-me-downs can help you save money where you can.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a average age to have a baby?
In America, the average age of first-time mothers has risen from 21 to 26, while the average age of first-time fathers has risen from 27 to 31. This isn’t just a problem in America; women in other developed countries are waiting as well, with new mothers on average having their first child at the age of 31.
What age is hardest to have a baby?
Parents have named age 8 as the most difficult age to parent, according to new research. Forget the terrible twos, get ready for the hateful eights. Many parents will be surprised to learn that year eight is the most difficult, especially since parents polled found that age six was easier than they expected.
Is having a baby painful?
Yes, childbirth is a painful experience. It is, however, manageable. According to a nationwide survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) in honor of Mother’s Day, nearly half of first-time mothers (46%) said the pain they experienced with their first child was better than they expected.
How do I know if I'm ready to have a baby?
Signs that you’re ready to include:
- It’s not as if you’re checking a box.
- You and your partner are both in good health.
- Your relationship is doing well.
- You recognize that your child will be a one-of-a-kind individual.
- You aren’t feeling well enough yet.
- Your connection isn’t strong.
- You feel compelled to start a family.