7 Things New Parents Worry About (and How to Ease Your Mind)
The parenting journey is often a balance between excitement, delight, frustration, and worry. There's no shortage of issues to stress out about, especially for first-time parents. Even seasoned caregivers often find themselves losing sleep over common parenting concerns. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common things new parents worry about and how to manage those concerns.
1. Worries About Baby Dying While Sleeping
One of the most common worries of new parents is that their baby will experience sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). These are deaths that occur among infants less than a year old and have no immediately obvious cause. The three commonly reported types of SUID include the following:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Unknown cause
- Accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed
To minimize your baby’s risk, always place your infant on their back for every sleep on a firm, flat mattress. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a separate crib or bassinet in the same room as you for the first 6 months. The AAP recommends room-sharing because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%, and it's much safer than bed-sharing. Keep soft objects & loose bedding out of your baby's sleep area. Be careful not to let your baby overheat, avoid smoking, and try to breastfeed if possible, as these all help reduce the risk of SUID as well.
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2. Worries About Breastfeeding
While lactating may come naturally, breastfeeding is a skill that requires lots of practice. From latching and positioning to low milk supply and mastitis, there are a lot of issues that can trip you up when it comes to nursing your baby. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask for a visit from a lactation consultant while you’re in the hospital after delivery to help you and your baby learn what to do. You also may want to take a breastfeeding class before the baby is born so that you know what to expect. Knowledge and patience are the keys to breastfeeding success.
3. Worries About Falling While Holding the Baby
Another common fear is falling while holding your infant. Doing a little babyproofing around the house can help prevent trip-and-fall accidents. Make sure carpeted stairs don’t have any tears or holes where you could snag your toe or foot and that the carpet is secure. For bare stairs, consider installing gripping pads for traction. Keep objects away from the stairs so that no one accidentally trips over them. Always take your time going up and down the stairs, especially when carrying the baby.
4. Worries About Not Loving or Not Bonding With the Baby
Between the surging hormones and sheer exhaustion, it’s quite normal for many parents to not feel close to their baby right after birth. Many feel a mix of emotions, especially at first. Keep in mind, though, that your infant is already bonding with you while they’re still in the womb. They’ve spent months listening to your voice and your heartbeat. Within the first couple of weeks, they’ll even recognize your unique smell. To encourage bonding, try some skin-to-skin contact. Hold your baby often or wear them in a carrier.
If you feel very down and disconnected from your baby for a long period of time, talk to a doctor. It’s possible you may be experiencing postpartum depression. The first step in getting relief from postpartum depression is identifying the signs and symptoms and moving past the stigma associated with it. It’s ok to get help. Postpartum depression is not something you caused, and you are not broken. It is a treatable medical condition.
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5. Worries About Harming Baby’s “Soft Spot”
While newborns may seem as delicate as a porcelain doll, they’re actually tougher than you might expect! Newborns have two major soft spots on the top of the head called fontanels. These soft spots are spaces between the bones of the skull where bone formation isn't complete. This allows the skull to be molded during birth, making delivery easier for mom and baby. The smaller spot at the back usually closes by 2 to 3 months of age. The larger spot toward the front often closes around age 18 months. It's normally slightly depressed and pulsates.
Your baby’s soft spots are covered by a thick fibrous layer and are safe to gently touch. When your little one is crying, lying down, or vomiting, the fontanelles may look like they are bulging. However, they should return to normal when your newborn is in a calm, head-up position.
6. Worries That Baby is Crying Too Much
While it can be stressful and frustrating for parents, crying is quite normal for newborn babies. It’s really a baby’s only means of communication! It increases at 2 to 3 weeks and peaks by 6 to 8 weeks. Crying is typically more common in the late afternoon and early evening. Babies may cry for any number of reasons, such as hunger, discomfort, lack of sleep, loneliness, feeling ill, over or under-stimulation, or needing a diaper change. With time, you’ll gradually learn to decipher your baby’s cries and learn their cues which will help you soothe them more quickly. If the crying sounds different or if you are worried, check with your doctor.
7. Worries About Poop Color
Of all the new parent worries that exist, changing poop color is the one that may continue to spark anxiety and calls to the doctor long after the newborn stage. Poop happens in all textures and colors and gets increasingly complex as your baby begins to ingest solid foods. At first, your newborn will have black poop (meconium), followed by green transitional stools. Eventually, your baby will have mustardy yellow poop (breastfed) or poop that’s yellow-tan with hints of green (formula-fed). The only colors you need to be alarmed about are black, red, or white.
While parenthood can be rewarding and joyous, it’s certainly not without challenges. Many new parents worry that they don't know what to do. Rest assured, though, that there are practical ways to deal with the stresses of being a new parent so that you can enjoy your baby more. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it. If you’re concerned about something out of the ordinary, it’s always good to contact a healthcare provider to ease your worries.
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