IDEALKID (V613) reports the ideal total number of children the woman would have liked to have in her whole life, regardless of her actual childbearing. The information is collected through hypothetical questions such as, "If you could go back to the time you did not have any children and could choose exactly the number of children to have in your whole life, how many would that be?" (for women with living children) or "If you could choose exactly the number of children to have in your whole life, how many would that be?" (for women without living children).
If the woman responded with a range of values, IDEALKID reports the midpoint between those values. According to the DHS Recode Manuals, "If the midpoint is not an exact number then the number is rounded up in half the cases and rounded down for the other half." The questionnaires included space for non-numeric "other" responses, such as "Up to God."
When children are chosen as the unit of analysis, the woman respondent indicates the mother of the child.