We lie awake at night straining our ears for the sound of their breathing. We take out our phones in the middle of breastfeeding and diaper changing to look up symptoms of scary diseases. We call our pediatricians at all hours. You're not alone in that worry, mama.
A survey found that new mothers spend 1,400 hours (more than 58 days) of their babies' first year worrying about their health. Whether you're in the midst of caring for an infant or that scary-wonderful time is years behind you, you're probably nodding to yourself right now, thinking, Is that all?
The survey, conducted by OnePoll for Enfamil parent company Mead Johnson, said that 330 hours of that time is devoted to "frantic Google searches." We wonder if that includes searching through parenting forums, and asking Facebook groups and group texts questions like, "Will my baby ever stop crying?" and, "Why hasn't my kid pooped in three days?"
The poll attributes another 337 mom hours to texting or calling their own mothers. Note: The poll designers didn't appear to ask about dads and grandfathers who may also be bearing this worry.
The top worry of these moms is their infant's overall health (58%), followed by reaching milestones on time (54%), drinking enough milk or formula (52%), and their growth rate (47%).
The point of this latest poll, which was conducted with a sample of 900 American mothers and 100 pediatricians earlier this year, is to raise awareness for Mead Johnson's Allergy Action campaign. Because despite all that worrying, the pediatricians say that 76% parents (including dads!) don't have all the info they need on infant allergies. They don't know, for example, that allergies to cow's milk might be a sign of future allergies, or that there are measures parents can take to reduce the risk of future allergies.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, those measures include exclusive breastfeeding for the first three to four months (shown to prevent eczema) and introducing possible allergens, including ground peanuts into a baby's diet as early as 6 months old. If the infant has already had sever eczema or tested positive for an egg allergy, this introduction to allergens should still occur, but needs to be under the supervision of a health care provider.
By the way, once our babies are toddlers and big kids, it's not like we're done with parental anxiety. A study last year (also by OnePoll, but this time by Lice Clinics of America) showed that parents spend five hours and 18 minutes a day, or 37 hours a week, worrying about their kids. That's actually about 500 hours more worry than the moms of infants in the other poll. This is probably because in addition to our kids' poop and eating habits, we have to think about their safety, happiness, bullying, education and on and on.
So if you're concerned that you're worrying too much or not enough, you're not alone, mama. It comes with motherhood, but you've got this.