Help! I Have Baby Fever
After spending a few hours with a baby, all you can think about is having children and Baby Fever starts to kick in. Seeing cute baby booties has you planning your future baby’s nursery. And all those newborn Facebook photos have you wondering if you should have a baby of your own.
If you can relate to any of the above statements, you may have baby fever.
In this guide, we will cover what baby fever is, if it’s actually real and how to cope with it.
What is Baby Fever?
Baby fever is the intense and sudden desire to have children, even if you’re single or know that you’re not yet ready.
Researcher Gary Brase says it best: “Baby fever is this idea out in popular media that at some point in their lives, people get this sudden change in their desire to have children. While it is often portrayed in women, we noticed it in men, too.”
Baby fever is similar to the term “biological clock,” when women realize they have little time left before it becomes difficult or impossible to have biological children.
While baby fever is real, it isn’t caused by a specific biological process. This means that some women can experience baby fever younger, older or not at all. Studies show that the desire, on average, is most intense in the late 20s. In addition, people can still be good parents without experiencing an intense desire to have kids. Women and men who already have a family may also begin experiencing this longing shortly after or years after having their current children.
Signs you may have baby fever:
- You find yourself daydreaming about having a baby
- You dream about the best name for your baby
- You secretly plan what your baby’s nursery will look like
- You feel jealous and even upset at others’ pregnancy announcements
- You constantly worry that your biological clock is ticking
- You check out the baby section even when you have no baby to buy for
- You feel a desire to have a baby whenever you hold or even see a baby
- Facebook photos of children or newborns only intensify that desire
- Small, cute baby clothes and shoes also trigger your desire to start a family
Why Do I Have Baby Fever? The Science Behind It
If you have baby fever, remember that it’s quite common and you’re not alone. The desire to have a child is sometimes at odds with how ready we are, and that’s normal.
“Having children is kind of the reason we exist— to reproduce and pass our genes on to the next generation,” Brase explained in a release. “But economically, having children is expensive and you don’t get any decent financial return on this investment. And yet, here we are, actual people kind of stuck in the middle.”
Brase, a professor of psychology at Kansas State University, found that people who had positive exposure to babies — ones who are happy and smell nice — wanted to have children. On the other hand, people who had negative experiences with babies (such as excessive crying) cared less about becoming a parent. So, your desire to have children could be caused by the beautiful, peaceful babies in your family or friend circle.
In fact, when researchers analyzed tweets about baby fever, they realized that the desire was present after being around children.
If you have baby fever, after seeing a baby, you can probably relate to these tweets:
- “Catching up with an old friend and her kids are just too adorable #BabyFever”
- “This baby at the Verizon store keeps staring and smiling at me and omg so adorableeee #babyfever”
- “I hope everyone who put me in charge of this newborn wasn’t expecting to get her back #babyfever”
- “Someone brought their newborn to work, I had to tell my ovaries 18 to life guys! #babyfever”
- “Looook at her she is so precious! #babyfever”
If others influence our baby fever to a large extent, we may even become pregnant ourselves, according to research. One Swedish study found that women were more likely to become pregnant not long after their coworkers had babies.
Another reason you have baby fever could be because you simply weigh the pros more heavily. When contemplating children, there are many trade-offs to consider: money, career, travel and time. If you see those trade-offs as easy to mitigate or worth it, your desire to have children will understandably increase.
A craving to become a parent could also be caused by society’s expectations. Although women are pressured less now than decades ago, the expectation to bear children is still a reality. If your family is pressuring you or constantly asking when you’ll be having children, this could feed into your desire to get pregnant. However, according to research, gender role expectations have a less powerful role in causing baby fever.
“The idea that gender role or misplaced nurturance are the major driving forces didn’t get a lot of support from our study,” Brase said. “It is something much more fundamental than that.”
Another researcher suggested that the longing may be caused by hormonal changes that prepare a woman for motherhood. The desire could have evolved to let women know the reproductive timing was right.
Some women also report experiencing baby fever during a specific time in their menstrual cycle. For example, some women feel the desire most strongly during their period or ovulation.
Men and Baby Fever
Yes, men can have baby fever, too!
In one survey, 58% of male respondents said they experienced a strong desire to have a child. This is compared to 78% of female respondents.
In one Reddit thread titled, “Do guys get baby fever? If you do, how do you handle it?” male Redditors expressed their longing for children:
- “We do, but we don’t usually admit it.”
- “Every time I see a cute baby I wanna snuggle and do dad stuff.”
- “Yes, I do. I would love to have kids. I worry I won’t a little. But now’s not the time anyway.”
One UK study found that, compared to women, men were more sad, angry and jealous of their friends with children.
Although women are still thought to have baby fever more commonly, there could be a time where your partner’s baby fever is even more intense than yours. One study found that after having children, a woman’s baby fever was likely to decrease, while a man’s was likely to increase. One theory is that women are more likely to be involved and realize the difficulty of raising children, whereas men become more comfortable with babies.
How to Cope with Baby Fever
If you and your partner are ready for children, the answer to baby fever could simply be to start trying to conceive. Being straightforward with your partner or warming him up to the idea are good ways to communicate your desire. For a full guide on talking to your partner about babies, click here.
If you’re not sure if you’re ready to have children, sit down and weigh the factors. What would life look like if/when you’re ready? Are you financially stable and emotionally ready? Here are some other aspects to consider.
However, if you are single and not yet ready for children, the answer isn’t that simple. If you’ve always dreamed of becoming a mom, you may find yourself becoming emotional at the thought of children. There are a couple ways you can help decrease your baby fever.
You can get your “baby fix” by offering to babysit for friends and family members. You can also visit people with babies more often.
Instead of being jealous, switch your mindset into thinking that the more time you spend with babies, the more prepared you will be to have your own.
Some women choose to “distract” themselves by considering the goals they need to accomplish before they are ready. Whether you want to go back to school, get the promotion, travel or just be financially stable, consider each achievement as one step closer to your future baby. When you focus on an important goal, the intense longing should diminish.
Another option is to direct your baby-obsession into baby-related activities:
- Set up a Pinterest board to pin your favorite baby items, announcement ideas, maternity photo shoot ideas, advice and more
- Read pregnancy and parenting magazines and blogs
- If you knit or crochet, create baby clothes or baby blankets
Finally, some people may find that the best way to combat the desire is to avoid baby-related things altogether. On one thread on BabyCenter.com, women shared their “messy” motherhood stories in order to “cure” one woman’s baby fever.
Do you have baby fever? If you do, comment below how you’re coping with it! If you have friends who are also experiencing an intense longing for children, share this post with them, too!
P.S. If your baby fever leads to a baby, you need to check out our fetal dopplers. These amazing devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat at home!