Most Common Fears of New and Expectant Parents

This article covers all the top concerns and parenting worries from ‘are they still breathing’ to ‘will I be able to breastfeed’ and more answering real parenting worries with factual answers to ease your mind.

Concerned about sleep? Establish healthy sleep habits from day one, with the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers app. It guides you step by step through newborn sleep fundamentals including everything from how to set up the perfect sleep environment to the importance of bedtime.

As exciting as it is, welcoming a new baby can also be a nerve-wracking experience. Suddenly you have this person to take care of, and they don’t come with instruction manuals.

Naturally, this can lead to some worries and fears. Luckily, many of those worries and fears are extremely unlikely. To allay your potential worries, I spoke with some new parents about the things that kept them up at night when their babies first arrived – and how they learned to see beyond fear and trust the process.

Are They Breathing?

“I can’t tell you how many times I poked my sleeping baby to make sure they were alright,” said one friend, while another admitted, “My husband was insanely concerned about the baby not breathing when sleeping and he would always get real close and stick his fingers under baby’s nose to check. Like multiple times a night.”

Trust me, “Are they breathing” is a super common concern among new parents - and it makes total sense: you just brought this new amazing baby into the world and it’s a huge responsibility. After a busy day of tending to your baby, when they are quietly sleeping it’s like, “Wait, are they okay?” In reality, quiet babies are all tuckered out from experiencing new things and all the growing they’re doing. That said, if gently poking your baby from time-to-time helps ease your nerves – and doesn’t wake them – then (gently) poke away!

What Is That Noise?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes babies grunt, moan, or make other odd noises in their sleep. This too is normal, as is your urge to run in and check. I urge you to resist that impulse as much as possible. By entering the room, you may rouse them from sleep, so instead wait a few moments to see if your baby self-soothes back to sleep. (Baby monitors are especially useful in this situation – just seeing your baby resting peacefully can put worries to rest.)

Are They Crying?

My friend thought she was losing it – “I hear him crying from the other room but then check and he’s asleep. I thought I was crazy!” But she was not in fact losing it. She was simply experiencing what is known as Phantom Crying – when you think you baby’s crying but they’re not. It’s kind of like when you “feel” your phone buzz in your pocket and it’s really nothing. Trust us, this is totally normal and is actually a great sign – it means you’re alert and in-tune to your baby’s needs.

Are They Going to Choke?

Yes, choking is a danger for babies, especially when they’re just learning about solids, but it’s uncommon if you use common sense - for example, keep small toys and objects away from your baby and cut their food into pieces - especially grapes, and remember to cut those longways. That said, it’s perfectly normal to worry about your baby choking, but as one woman whose baby is now four noted, “I probably didn’t need to be cutting blueberries in half.” In other words, the potential for choking is probably way, way bigger than the actuality of it happening.

Are They Too Hot or Too Cold?

Ah, yes, another very common worry – is my baby too hot or is my baby too cold? You want to make sure your baby is comfortable, so this is a completely normal worry – and one of the easier ones to relieve. Keep your baby comfortable by maintaining a room temperature of 68-72 ° F, especially at night because that temperature range is the ideal sleeping environment. Also, a good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than you would wear at night. So, if you wear a t-shirt, your baby should have PJs and a swaddle or sleep sack. If you’re worried your baby’s too hot, look for sweat along their hairline, feel for a hot forehead, and watch for red cheeks – all signs your baby’s too hot.

Too Much Sun?

Another concern that can be solved pretty quickly – fears over sun exposure. To keep your baby comfortable and safe, dress them in a hat and a baby-appropriate SPF when outside for long periods of time. Be sure to choose a sunscreen recommended by your pediatrician. And, as with the tip above, keep an eye out for sweating, red cheeks, or panting – signs it’s time for your baby to chill a bit.

Will They Get A Flat Head?

Baby’s skulls are still developing and when putting your baby to sleep with their head in the same position day after day puts constant pressure on some parts of the skull - especially during the first four months. However, it is easy to prevent this by always placing your baby down on their back but alternating which way their head is facing each night and by offering lots of tummy time during awake hours. This gives the back of their head a break while also strengthening their neck muscles.

Will We Ever Sleep?

Newborns actually sleep a lot, 16-20 hours a day in fact, but of course for the first few months their circadian rhythm is still maturing and sleep may seem disorganized. To help you establish healthy sleep habits from day one, check out the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers app. It guides you step by step through newborn sleep fundamentals including everything from how to set up the perfect sleep environment to the importance of bedtime.

I’m Not Sure How to Breastfeed…

Another very frequent concern is that you won’t be able to breastfeed. Luckily, nature has pretty much perfected it. While there can be a learning curve – including getting your baby to latch onto your breast – it might surprise you to learn that babies are born instinctively to know what to do, so try to relax and let nature take its course. Yes, a new baby needs a lot of care and attention, and it can be a bit scary… But, it’s also true that people have been raising babies for millennia – and that for millennia every new parent has thought, “I’m totally going to screw this up” and the vast majority have done just fine. And you will, too. The fact that you’re even reading this already shows you’re a caring, detailed, loving person. Sure, there will be some trial-and-error along the way, but you’ll get the hang of parenting in no time – and soon enough you’ll be the one offering advice!

“Speaking of advice, check out this brilliant piece of advice from a new parent: Be Flexible: The coping skills and strategies that have worked for you in the past probably won't work here. Through hard work and sheer willpower, I've gotten what I've wanted in life, and this hard work and willpower had a 100% success rate... Until parenting.

I've since learned that no matter what, I cannot make my baby do anything, ever, and all the hard work and willpower in the world will not raise a compassionate, smart, and creative baby. Period. So be flexible and be open to finding a new way of working in the world; your baby will teach you exactly how they need to be parented.” Enjoy the journey! You’ve got this!

About Mandy Treeby

Mandy Treeby is the co-founder of the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ and a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who has spent over a decade working with parents & babies around the world. Understanding just how many families are suffering sleep challenges, ignited her passion to make quality baby sleep coaching available to everyone. A Mom of two, she’s focused on ensuring parents gain the confidence and knowledge to help their babies’ become super sleepers.

Read More