Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes
“People are constantly asking me if I’m pregnant, but I don’t like to talk about it too much. I just think about it as the next phase. We’ll see.”~ Mariah Carey
Hey you! Do yourself a favor and don’t base your decision to have a baby solely on this article or any article for that matter. Also, don’t place too much stock on those online “Are you ready?” quizzes either. Be wary about the “checklists,” as well.
And, take with a grain of salt, the well-meaning and super knowledgeable “advice” given by physicians, obstetricians, and psychologists (like me). Wait…what? Yes, although these “tools” may be semi-helpful, they should not be used to ultimately decide if you are ready to have a baby.
What should your decision boil down to?
Consider your partner’s feelings, perspective, and position on the matter, but ultimately, go with your gut. Although it takes two to create a baby, only one carries that baby for 9 months. Be respectful of your partner’s wishes, but go with your instincts.
If your gut is telling you that you and/or your partner are not ready for a baby, trust it. However, if your gut is telling you that you and/or your partner are ready to take on the added responsibility of caring for a baby…then a toddler…a child…a teen, you just may be ready for the bouncing baby girl or boy.
Things to consider when deciding if you’re ready to have a baby
So, should you not use these “readiness tools” or seek guidance from a medical doctor or psychologist? You should absolutely use them if it’s something you want to do! You can use them to help you get more in touch with how you really feel about having a baby in your 20s.
Quizzes often contain some insightful questions – questions that can really get you thinking about your future and possibly the future of your child. If worded correctly, checklists can alert you to things you must consider before having a baby. And, a medical doctor and a psychologist can determine if you are physically and emotionally ready to have a baby. These individuals can also help you unearth reasons why you may or may not want to have a baby – things that you personally experienced or observed during childhood or adulthood – things that impacted you and made you long for a child of your own or declare you never want kids.
You don’t have to grapple with this decision alone
Talk to your partner, family, and friends. Then, if the answer is still not clear, talk to a counselor, therapist, medical doctor, or psychologist, but stay far away from searching about it online. It is not your friend. Still, this bears repeating – at the end of the day – go with your gut.
Until then, here are some things you may want to consider when deciding if a baby is in your near future.
Are you mature enough to have a baby?
If you feel like you’re too young to be saddled down with a baby, you’re probably not ready to have one. Keep in mind that taking care of a baby takes a lot of patience, perseverance, money, and sacrifice. It is not easy – I know because my 2-year-old son runs around my house like a banshee at 8:15pm at night.
If I was immature, I’d pull my hair out, especially since he should have been asleep an hour ago. But, here he is and here I am – “adulting.” Was I that mature in my 20s? Absolutely not. Maybe you are…maybe you’re not. But, knowing if you are willing and ready to put some little person ahead of what you want is super important if you are considering having a baby.
When you have a baby – it’s no longer about you. It’s now about this little being who is solely dependent on you for everything. What you want is irrelevant, but what he or she needs is the most important thing in the world. So, you have to demonstrate a certain level of maturity before you even think about bringing another life into the world.
Examine your financial situation
Let’s be real…babies can “cost an arm and a leg.” In other words, they are expensive. Even though they are some of the sweetest, cutest, and cuddliest little beings in the world, they cost money – more and more as they age.
Here is a visual for you – a newborn requires frequent diaper changes and a box of 149 Pampers Swaddlers costs $39.76 at Walmart. What does that mean? It means that you’ll probably need a new box every 2 weeks (especially once your baby becomes a toddler). And, that’s just diapers or pull-ups. A 3-pack of wipes is approximately $7. You’ll, probably need a 3-pack every week – at least when the baby is really young. Then don’t forget to consider how much daycare will cost, once you return to work. Daycare can cost up to $1,500 a month, in some cases, and even more for multiple children.
If you’re unable to breastfeed, wait until you see how much the formula costs. A can of Similac costs approximately $33 at Walmart, which will last you about a week. That’s not including other necessities like doctor’s appointments, nursery and baby furniture, bedding, toys, a car seat, and clothes. Yikes!
And, guess what? These costs are only for a newborn and toddler – everything gets more expensive as they get older and need more “things.”
So, when deciding if you are ready for a baby, consider you financial situation. Do you have the moola to really care for another person, especially one who will potentially take most or all of your hard-earned money? If you can barely take care of yourself and are subsisting on tuna and soup, it may not be the time to bring a new life into the world.
Another thing you may want to consider when deciding whether to have kids in your 20s – after you have the baby, you are going to want to stay home with him or her for a little while. This means you may have to take “unpaid” maternity/paternity leave, if you work outside of the home.
Most companies offer up to twelve weeks of “unpaid” maternity/paternity leave. Some companies pay a portion of your normal salary to new mothers with some even covering fathers (paternity leave). It just depends on the company.
If the maternity/paternity leave is “unpaid,” most companies will allow you to take vacation, paid-time-off (PTO), and/or sick time to compensate the time you’re off with your new baby. But, once again, this depends on the company. So, check with the HR department.
Have a strong and stable support network
If you decide you are ready for a baby, you’ll need to have a strong and stable support system. This applies to moms and dads of all ages, but especially if you are in your 20s or younger. For instance, you’ll need people you can call for advice, tips, and guidance when you’re tending to a sick or colicky baby in the middle of the night.
You’ll also need babysitters when you need to get out for a minute with your partner or friends. Yes, we all need some “me time” from time-to-time. It’s healthy and essential for your mental health and well-being. Thus, you will need your parents, close friends, doctors, church congregation, neighbors, daycare providers, teachers, and possibly a family psychologist.
How responsible are you?
Lastly, you’ll need to be responsible if you want to have kids. Why? Because, a baby is a HUGE responsibility. In fact, it’s kinda like a full-time job on top of your outside full-time job. Seriously. It’s like having two jobs – jobs you can’t quit because you have to provide for your child.
If you struggle to take care of yourself – i.e. arrive at work on time, keep a job for any amount of time, budget and save your money, eat regularly or make healthy food and lifestyle choices, pay bills, etc., you’re probably not ready to have a baby…right now. Children need security and stability.
I’m sorry, but love isn’t always enough. Children need responsible parents so they feel safe. They need to know they’ll have a place to live and food to eat. They need you to be an adult, so they can be kids. So, if you can’t offer this to a child, it’s probably best you wait until you can.
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | All Articles | LinkedIn