First-time fathers getting older

FATHERS are delaying having children later than ever before and women gave birth to a record 297,900 babies in 2010, says a Bureau of Statistics report released on Tuesday.

The report, which tracks the annual national birth rate, revealed the average age of a new father had risen to a record 33.1 years old, while first-time mothers were an average 28.9 years and the overall median age for a woman giving birth in 2010 was 30.7 years old.

Despite the sheer volume of infant arrivals - up by more than 2200 from the previous year - the national fertility rate dropped slightly to 1.89 babies per woman.

This continued a declining trend, steadily down since the high of 1.96 babies per woman set in 2008. It is also further away from the predicted figure of 2.1 needed to maintain Australia's population by births alone.

Of the new parents, 66 per cent - only 1 per cent more than in 2009 - were married before the birth of their child.