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The perfect age to have a baby is 26, according to a new study of 2,000 parents.
A third of parents claim that having children at a younger age meant they could have a bigger family, while a fifth feel their youth will help them have more in common with their children.
The findings, reported in the Seven Seas Pregnancy whitepaper, also found a quarter weren’t sure how long it would take to conceive, and so wanted to start early.
Owning a house and getting married were the two key milestones most parents wanted to have reached before having children, and six in 10 parents were happy to be earning a collective wage of just £25,000 a year before settling down to have a family.
But couples were happy to wait for achievements such as gaining a promotion, travelling the world, being established in their career or owning a fancy car.
Claire Halsey, Clinical Psychologist and contributor to the Seven Seas Pregnancy whitepaper, says: “The results of this survey are quite surprising, as we would have expected parents to think the perfect age to start a family to be late twenties to early thirties, as opposed to mid-twenties.
“Contrary to popular belief younger women are planning a family after just a few years of working rather than waiting to establish a career, going travelling or spending time on hobbies.
“Perhaps there is a realisation that as the recession affects work prospects, planning for a family can come first and career later.”
The report also questioned 2,000 childless people about their plans to have a family.
While one in 20 claimed they never wanted to have children, the average age across the rest of the respondents was 28.
So despite two thirds of people without children wanting to have achieved something in life before starting a family, most reckon they will have done this before hitting 30.
As well as wanting to have a house and marriage sorted, half of those polled want to earn a decent amount of money, while 47% want job security.
Four in 10 people would like to have savings in the bank before settling down with kids, and 26% want to have enjoyed lots of holidays.
Childless couples also want to make a number of preparations before starting a family but financial stability outweighs pre-conceptual health planning.
Adopting a healthier attitude to life was a big concern – just under half of those polled want to eat healthier food, a quarter would take up more exercise and the same percentage would like to lose weight.
Of those mums who have had children, a fifth admitted they were initially worried that they weren’t healthy enough to start a family, and of the six in 10 mums who planned their conception, one in 10 stopped smoking, and 23% made healthier food choices and cut down on alcohol.