When is the best month to have a baby?

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

Planning a baby's arrival is a luxury often complicated by fertility surprises and challenges, but if a baby could be planned, what time of year is ideal?

Of course, the answer depends on the parents' preferences and key concerns, their career and family situations, the climate in the area they live, and so on. With so many factors at play, there is no objective "best" time to have a baby, but the data does appear to point to a best--or at least most popular--time to conceive a baby. As we usher in November (which marks the start of a relative "lull" in the birth numbers), let's take a look at a few notable birth months throughout the year, their corresponding birth data in the U.S., and their merits and downsides.

FEBRUARY as a birth month falls in last place year after year. Birth workers have theorized that this is the result of what's going on 9 months prior: in May, as the days lengthen, summer days tempt, and social calendars begin to fill, and couples tend to carve out less time for baby making. There's truth in that, but there is another clear reason why February keeps taking last place: February has the least number of days per month. July (which often takes the #1 spot) does average about 1000 more births per day than February, but it also has three additional days to add to its total compared to February. In truth, the average February day outpaces the birth average for a March day, but March looks more active for births on paper, because it, too, claims 31 days. When analyzed by births per day, February tends to fall closer to the middle of the pack. The pros and cons of a February birth? A baby born this time of year may narrowly escape the depths of flu season, and a February birth may mean a maternity leave that corresponds perfectly with the weather: stay inside and snuggle for the first month, and then just as you're ready to venture out for strolls, the weather is warming and the days are lengthening. Also, a February/March birth month would plant a child squarely in the middle of the age range for school enrollment, which might eliminate some headaches for parents wondering when to start a child in school. Cons? Some parts of the country would still be worrying about having to drive to the hospital in a snowstorm.

JULY and AUGUST have claimed the top two spots in number of births per month in the US for the past several years. This is certainly linked to the *end* of long days and the *start* of the cozy autumn season nine months prior, which must encourage couples to increase sexual activity. But of course, these two months also have the advantage of claiming 31 days, which gives them the statistical edge. July and August can be a great time to welcome a new baby; work schedules in many industries seem to be more relaxed in these months, so perhaps a parent's village of support is more able to give of their time and attention. But in July and August, high birth rates also coincide with popular vacation times, which might make it more difficult to get the birth team you want (doctors and doulas)--so get on their calendars early!

SEPTEMBER is the real winner when it comes to birth averages. When analyzed in births/day rather than births/month, September claims first place most years (though it is sometimes narrowly edged out by August or July). This is surely related to the romance in the air throughout the holiday season 9 months prior, but it could also be the result of parents who want to time maternity leave to coincide with the fall and holiday season. Having given birth to a September baby myself, I can attest to some of the pros and cons. Pros: fall strolls, maternity leave over the holidays (if you're lucky), and your baby may just miss the cutoff for school enrollment (which can put them at an edge academically when the time comes). Cons: a very busy birthing wing at the hospital (think: "we can't admit you yet, even though you're in labor" and "we hope you'll have a private recovery room, but we can't make any promises"), a baby born at the start of flu/sick seasons, and those last few weeks of pregnancy in late summer can be quite uncomfortable in many US climate regions.

Though your physiology may have other plans, it can be helpful to calculate the ideal time to welcome a new baby. The factors that may weigh into this calculation include: the timing of your anticipated maternity leave, the weather in your area in the early days of baby's life (or in the late days of your pregnancy), your support person's work schedule (partners of accountants may not want to give birth in tax season, for example), the timing of flu season, the school enrollment cutoffs in your area, and the projected age difference among siblings. And perhaps the relative birth data weighs into your decision--though it's unlikely.

This analysis is based on data from 2015, 2014, and 2013, the most recent years for which CDC/NVSS statistical birth data by month is publicly available.

Source data: Demographic Statistics Database, United Nations Statistics Division. Data manipulation and chart by the author.

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