Your question: Why does my baby give me anxiety?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Parenting is an exhausting task. Naturally, it demands a lot of your time and attention. While it can be an enriching experience for many parents, there is no denying the toll that the responsibilities of parenthood take on mental health.

Feeling anxious about your baby is completely normal, and is known as parental anxiety (1). Parental anxiety is an emotional problem, which causes parents to feel constantly stressed, worried, overwhelmed and irritable about the responsibilities related to parenting.

Parental anxiety increases the risk of emotional problems in parents, such as depression, isolation and aggressive behaviors. It also impairs the quality of parenting. If you are constantly anxious and worried, it is difficult for you to give your baby full security and protection.

This is a common problem, and you should not feel guilty about being anxious. One of the most difficult tasks of parenting is to avoid being too hard on yourself. Everyone demands perfection from you, but you are your own worst critic. To begin to change, you must accept yourself as a parent who is willing to fail, make mistakes and learn from your mistakes.

Anxiety caused by babies, and by children in general, has many sources, and all require you to reflect on your coping strategies for anxiety, and to make changes in your parenting style.

What are the symptoms of parental anxiety?

Parents who are anxious about the responsibilities of parenting suffer in several areas. You may feel that after having your child, many things in your life have changed negatively: your work, studies, interpersonal relationships and even your personal care. Some typical symptoms of parental anxiety are:

  • Excessive worry about your baby.
  • Sleeping and feeding problems.
  • Isolation and excessive dedication to the baby’s care.
  • Constant headaches.
  • Concentration problems.
  • Irritability or constant crying.
  • Muscle tension and fatigue.
  • Recurrent thoughts such as “I am a bad parent”.

Why does your baby make you anxious?

Studies have shown (2) that parental anxiety occurs during and after pregnancy. In the first six weeks of a baby’s life, more than 20% of parents surveyed in the study reported feeling intense anxiety. There are several reasons why your baby may be causing you anxiety, among the most common are:

Recurrent crying

A baby’s cry is one of the most stressful sounds in the world. This happens because babies’ crying triggers a kind of alarm in our brain, which makes us feel overwhelmed. When your baby cries, it activates your fight or flight response, which is triggered by situations that generate fear or anxiety (3).

Parental responsibilities

Financial expenses, food, sleep, clothes and many other things typical of parenthood generate anxiety in parents. It is not only the day-to-day parental responsibilities, but also balancing parenthood with the other demands of daily life, such as work and school.

Concerns about parenting

It’s possible that the anxiety caused by your baby is related to your own parenting worries and fears. Many parents constantly question whether they are doing the “right” thing and worry about whether their parenting style is the right one.


Many people are totally dedicated to the upbringing of their children. This can become a problem when it involves isolation and loss of social ties. Giving up work, school, going out with friends and staying home permanently to care for your baby can become emotionally draining and cause anxiety that worsens over time.

Why does your baby make you anxious?

Coping with parental anxiety is complex but possible. You should consider seeking professional help, from a psychologist or pediatrician, if you feel that the pressure of parenthood is becoming too intense, particularly if you perceive that it is causing significant impairment in your daily life, for example, if you have trouble eating and sleeping. Some useful strategies for coping with parental anxiety are:

Breathing and relaxation

For 10 to 20 minutes a day, you should take some space for yourself, separated momentarily from your baby, and do simple breathing exercises to help you stay calm and replenish your energy to continue with daily activities. Close your eyes, inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds. Keep a slow rhythm while resting your hands on your abdomen and feel how the tension in your body decreases.


Physical activity is necessary to keep you active both physically and mentally. Exercising, whether in a gym or in the comfort of your home, will allow you to feel more energetic and able to cope with the tribulations of parenthood.

Expand your social circle

Although parenting is your primary responsibility, it is not your only one. You need to make time for yourself through socialization. Parental isolation increases the risk of anxiety and depression. You need to get back in touch with your friends or create new social circles in places of your choice. In general, getting away from it all for a couple of hours and being in a space away from the stress of parenthood allows you to recharge your batteries.

Question your negative thoughts

You need to confront negative thoughts that abruptly pop into your mind related to parenthood. As a parent, you’re going to make mistakes many times, but that doesn’t define you as a parent or as a person, it’s what you learn from those mistakes. When thoughts like “I’m a failure as a parent” pop up in your mind, you should confront them, giving yourself a positive response that will alleviate the worry, for example: “I’m doing the best I can as a parent, I’m learning from my mistakes and getting a little better every day”.

In my experience…

Parental anxiety is all too common. Having the responsibility of caring for a human being can be overwhelming, as there are multiple things you have to worry about in order to do the best job possible. Therefore, to alleviate worry related to your baby, or your child of any age, you must constantly remind yourself that parenting is a job that you learn as you go along.

As time goes on, you gradually learn to cope with the responsibilities and changes that parenthood demands. Babies are exposed to many changes, but they are also willing to learn and receive useful information. You can complement these strategies with professional help from a child psychologist or pediatrician. You got this! Being a parent is hard work, but the gratification of watching your child grow and feel secure is priceless. Remember that all this effort is for yourself and your child

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