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I am seeing a virtual “epidemic” of SPS–Scared Parent Syndrome.
These terrified people are new parents. They recently had their first baby and they are just plain scared of him or her. They are terrified they will make a mistake in handling or caring for the baby.
These are not teeny-boppers. The ones I’m talking about are usually in their late 30s or even 40s. Both parents are highly educated and have important career positions. They waited a long time to have that baby who frightens them. Some of the babies were born after fertility treatments.
The baby is healthy, born at term, and may or may not be colicky. The parents went to all their pregnancy classes and bought a bunch of baby books which they have read bits and pieces of.
But they never or rarely did any babysitting. They come from small families and are often the youngest child. Some have never held a baby before.
It’s getting obvious that the basic cause of SPS is INEXPERIENCE and UNFAMILIARITY with newborns.
The fact that mothers are sent home a day or two after delivery doesn’t help. I am old enough to have been kept in the hospital for about a week after delivery. The nurses helped new mothers diaper and nurse and observed these mothers for signs of SPS which they treated with lots of reassurance. I was also visited 2 or 3 weeks after my daughter was born by a public health nurse sent out by the county to check on all new mothers.
My advice for new parents at risk of SPS:
o Practice holding young babies before you deliver your own.
o Spend lots of time just holding and cuddling your newborn until you both get used to each other. You’ve never met this little person before!
o Talk to your baby all the time. Language acquisition starts at birth. In the beginning you might feel foolish talking to a person who doesn’t answer but, trust me, within a few days your baby will respond to you.
o Don’t ever be afraid of your baby.
o Talk to experienced parents for technical support on how to do things like diaper and burp.
o If you have any questions ask your child’s doctor.
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