Tips for First-Time Parents: How to Cope with Baby Anxiety

Becoming a first-time parent can be both joyful and overwhelming. Once your little bundle arrives, your focus shifts from maintaining a healthy pregnancy and having a safe birth, to an entire list of new priorities. Whether you’re concerned about your baby’s safety, nursing, those all too common baby ailments, or childcare, remember there’s a solution out there, but remember that stressing is not one of them!

According to a study conducted by Professor Jennifer Lansford at Duke University, infants derived their emotional cues from others. They apparently also learned how to respond in the way their caregivers did. This means that you stressing over your baby could actually stress your baby. A bit of a catch 22 right?

Other than that, stress if left untreated, can also affect your relationships, health, morale, and efficiency. Here are some common issues new parents stress about, as well as some solutions, and how you can keep living stress-free once your baby is born.  

Facing Those Common Parental Fears

You may be anxious about whether you’re fully prepared to welcome your newest little family member. Remember that there’s no need for you to have everything immediately, other than essentials like nappies, baby blankets, wipes, some clothes, a crib/moses basket. Know that parenting is a journey, and you can always buy everything else as you go along.

It’s also pretty normal to feel a bit stressed about hurting the soft spot on the crown of your baby’s head. To combat anxiety here, just ensure that you baby does not bump his head or fall. Remember that you can’t hurt your baby by simply brushing up against or touching the soft spot, so relax.

A lot of parents also stress about something terrible happening to their sleeping infant. You may be concerned about cot death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

If this is the case and you can’t seem to shake your anxiety, try camping out in your baby’s nursery on a spare bed to ease your mind. You should also keep anything that could suffocate your child, like large teddy bears or heavy blankets, out of the cot – and do regulate the temperature in the nursery so that it’s not too hot. Having your baby next to you in your own room for a few months can ease anxiety.

Some parents are also concerned about falling while carrying their baby. If this is you, you can baby proof your home to reduce the risk of falling. Do so by placing a gate at the top of your staircase, in case you’re afraid of tripping on a rug and falling down the stairs. Avoid the ones with a bar at the bottom though, as your are just creating another trip hazard.

You should also remove all toys from the floors and ensure floors are dry after washing before walking on them. Be sure to always wear shoes with rubber soles that have a strong grip, or bare feet. Socks can slip on carpet.

You should also hide all electrical cords. Also position the crib away from other furniture you could potentially fall over.

Creating the Right Atmosphere in Your Home

Setting the right ambience plays a vital role in easing anxiety. If you’re nursing, try playing some calming music while you nurse and bond with your baby. You could also try to take the pressure off a bit by watching a light hearted movie or an inspiring television program.

Remember that postpartum depression can be debilitating, as it leads to feelings of anxiety about not being a good parent. If you have this kind of depression, do not hesitate to seek professional counselling, or share your feelings with another mother who has felt a similar way in the past.

Lack of sleep can increase performance anxiety too, as when you are tired all of the time, you will not be able to manage your care-giving tasks very well. So if your baby decides to head off to la-la land, why not join in, so you can wake up feeling energised. You won’t be able to do this when you have more than one child, so make the most of the opportunity!

You should also never skimp on exercise, as this releases those stress-busting endorphins or ‘feel good’ hormones. Also try to get more fresh air, as oxygen helps boost your serotonin levels, which in turn helps you unwind.

Last but certainly not least, avoid critical people who cause you anxiety. These may be well-meaning family members or friends who want to share their child rearing wisdom with you. However, they often don’t realise that they’re just placing more pressure on you.

Try to always be patient with yourself, encourage yourself daily, and don’t forget to enjoy the journey as children grow up quickly!

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