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Common worries and fears for parents

7-minute read

Key facts

  • It's normal to have strong emotions while you're pregnant and after your baby is born.
  • It's also normal to feel worried or anxious when you are caring for a new baby.
  • Find out about some common worries, with tips on how to manage them and when to seek help.

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs, but it can also be one of the most difficult. Many new parents worry that they don't know what to do. However, there are practical ways to deal with the challenges of being a new parent so you can enjoy parenting your baby.

Your emotions after having your baby

It's normal to have strong emotions while you're pregnant and after your baby is born. You will probably experience joy, love, delight and surprise. And at other times stress, anger and frustration.

Many people learn how to be parents as they go along. It can be harder to deal with your emotions if you are:

Often, having a baby is different from what you expected. You might be worried about different things, such as if:

  • the birth did not go as planned
  • breastfeeding is harder than you thought it would be
  • you are having some bad days

Many parents feel lost — as though they are not coping. However, over time, you will learn to be a parent, and your confidence will grow.

It's also common to experience negative feelings towards your baby. Talk to your doctor or child health nurse if these feelings are:

  • intense
  • don't go away
  • keep coming back

A low mood and overwhelming or distressing thoughts and feelings may be signs of perinatal anxiety or depression.

Common worries and fears for new parents

It's normal to feel worried or anxious when you are caring for a new baby. Here are some common worries, with tips on how to manage them.

Worried the baby will die while they're asleep

Many parents fear their baby will choke, roll over or experience sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

SUDI and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), are very rare in Australia. To reduce the risk:

  • always place your baby on their back to sleep
  • make sure your baby's face and head are uncovered
  • keep your baby away from smoke, before and after birth
  • do not let your baby get too hot
  • breastfeed your baby, if possible

For their first 6 months, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in a room with you.

Worried you do not love your baby

It's common for parents to feel they have not bonded properly with their baby. It can take days, weeks or months until you feel close with your baby.

You will likely feel a mix of emotions. If you feel very low and disconnected from your baby, talk to your doctor or child health nurse.

Worried you will harm the fontanelle

Babies have soft spots on their heads called the fontanelle. The fontanelle is tougher than you think.

While you should always take care of your baby's head, you can't hurt them by gently touching or stroking over the fontanelle.

Worried you will drop the baby

There are ways you can reduce the risk of dropping your baby:

  • Baby-proof your house to prevent tripping or falling.
  • Check there are no snags on carpets or rugs.
  • Keep objects away from stairs.
  • Take your time when walking around with your baby.

Worried the baby is not normal

Parents often compare their baby's development with that of other babies.

Remember that children develop at their own pace, and reach milestones at different times.

Up to about 1 in 7 children experience a developmental delay of some sort.

It's important to get your baby's development routinely checked using the check-up sections in their Child Health Record.

Trust your instincts, and if you are worried, talk to your child health nurse or doctor.

Worried the baby is crying too much

It's normal for newborn babies to cry. Crying may increase in your baby's first few weeks and peak at around 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Babies aged 6 to 8 weeks cry for an average of 2 to 3 hours per 24 hours. Crying is usually worse in the late afternoon and early evening. But it can happen at any time and may last several hours.

Crying usually improves by 3 to 4 months of age.

Check with your doctor if:

  • your baby's crying or irritability comes on suddenly
  • their crying sounds different
  • you are worried about your baby
  • you are finding the crying stressful or upsetting

Worried the baby is sleeping too much

Some babies sleep most of the time; others wake a lot. On average, newborn babies sleep for 16 hours in a 24-hour period. By 2 to 3 months, the average is 15 hours of sleep.

For the first few weeks, your baby should be waking to have 8 to 12 feeds in 24 hours.

If you are concerned about your baby's sleep and feeding, talk to your child health nurse. If you are breastfeeding, a lactation consultant can advise you on how often to feed your baby.

Worried about money

Many parents worry they will not be able to provide financially for their baby.

It's important to start planning before the birth and to budget once the baby is born. You may also be entitled to government assistance, including:

  • Parental Leave Pay
  • Family Tax Benefit
  • Child Care Subsidy
  • Parenting Payment

For more information about payments and benefits, visit the Services Australia website.

Resources and support

Talk to your partner, or someone else you trust, if you have worries or fears. You can also talk to your doctor, midwife, or child health nurse.

For more support and information, try the following organisations:

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2023

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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