Walking through Target these days, I have a very strategic way of navigating the aisles. Basically, I avoid the baby section like the plague because it pulls at this momma’s heartstrings like no other. Yes, baby fever sets in, and sometimes it feels impossible to shake. I mean, the tiny socks for their little feet! The itty-bitty mittens to keep them from scratching their precious faces when they stretch out and nuzzle their sweet petite head into your chest! Ugh, the emotions are overwhelming just explaining this.
Maybe I hang out with my nieces and nephews too much. Maybe I should stop holding the neighbor’s little ones every chance I get. When it comes to baby fever, it turns out that chubby cheeks and that sweet baby scent aren’t the only things to blame. Between a combination of biology and experiences, baby fever is something that occurs naturally for women and men alike. It’s not just a sense of overwhelming nostalgia for when your littles were newborns. Research supports that baby fever is inspired and directly impacted by your experiences and reactions when interacting with babies. Which, of course, can be good, bad, or simply make you ponder how your life would change if you had “just one more.”
It’s About Your Experience, Not Just Biology and Hormones
Baby fever is typically triggered by an emotional reaction. When you get the chance to hold a newborn and it’s a good experience, one with lots of cuddles and calm cooing, it fuels the desire to have and snuggle your own little one. Of course, on the flip side, if it is a negative experience with screaming and crying, and the whole I’ve-done-everything-I-can-possibly-think-of-why won’t-you-stop despair overwhelming you, chances are it’ll cool that baby fever off real quick.
The third factor influencing the level of baby fever you’re experiencing is thinking about how your life would change by having a little one. And we’re talking about everything. Your relationship with your partner would change, as would your emotional, mental, financial, and physical self. If you’re already a parent, you completely understand the give and take that comes with being responsible for keeping another person alive. But for those who are considering becoming parents, there are a million pros and cons to weigh.
Are you willing to trade sleeping in on weekend mornings for a two hours on, two hours off sleep schedule for the first few months of your newborn’s life? (Which, let’s be honest, can last a helluva lot longer than that.) Are you good with trading in designer bags for diaper bags with enough space to fit diapers, bottles, at least two changes of clothing, and the kitchen sink? By all means, continue to use your designer bag for that if you feel so inclined, but know it’s gonna get trashed.
Some of these trade-offs won’t cause you to bat an eye. But others might make you think twice whether or not you are ready to (or even want to) be on the giving end of the spectrum for the foreseeable future. That’s the beauty of baby fever. It induces a whirlwind of emotion, but it doesn’t definitively lock you into the decision to have (or have more) children.
Baby Fever Doesn’t Mean You Want More Kids
At that moment where the baby couldn’t be more precious or adorable and just watching them nap at your girlfriend’s house makes your heart melt, I know, you feel absolutely convinced you’re ready for your own. Like, ASAP. Pronto. Let’s get our sexy on right this moment. But hold your horses. It might not be obvious right away, but just because you have baby fever in the worst way doesn’t necessarily mean you want to add to your brood.
While baby fever happens to both men and women alike, the biological difference between the two plays into decision-making when starting a family. From the moment we hit our late 20s, if we haven’t yet had children, we are constantly reminded that our biological clocks are ticking. Whether you’ve had kids or not, there is a societal push. Everyone lets you know your time is almost up, and you might want to get on that. But here’s the thing: You can totally have baby fever one minute and then be subjected to a diarrhea explosion the next, and think again. Thanks, but no thanks. You can have your little poop machine back, and I’ll hold them when they’re clean again.
Just like many other emotions, baby fever will ebb and flow. My girls are nine and seven, and I still try to avoid the baby section of Target. Not only because my heart feels overwhelmed, but because now even my daughters ask if there’s ever a chance that they’ll have another sibling. I tell them I’m not sure. There are no promises one way or another at this point.
So, in the meantime, I’ll cuddle and snuggle everyone else’s newborns before deciding. Maybe this baby fever can only be remedied by having another baby. Or maybe it can be satiated by adoring sweet little ones — as long as I can give them back to their parents for the less-than-sweet stuff.
This article was originally published on