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New dad fear of failure

Community Member

Hi there

this is the first time I have ever posted on this type of thing.

My wife and I recently had a baby in September this year. A baby girl we were both convinced it was going to be a boy as both sides of the family are all boys. Anyways I have been feeling these waves of frustration and Stress when trying to put the baby down to sleep and she is crying I get tense and angry. My wife try’s to help me but I don’t want to hand the baby back to her because I feel like I failed and my confidence is at an all time low . I know the baby must feel my stress and tension maybe that’s why she can’t settle. Today I tried putting her in the sling and it was just a disaster. She was crying and screaming. Then my wife put her in the sling on her. Few minutes later baby’s asleep so I just felt like shit really.

Often I feel defeated as soon as she starts crying but still don’t want to hand her over as I want to prove to myself I can do it . So that can’t be helpful for the baby either

These feelings only come up when I am trying to settle the baby. No other times.

does anyone else have these experiences of such stress ? I have found it tricky to articulate on here exactly how I am feeling but often it’s a sense of frustration and fear of failure maybe?

Thanks for reading my experiences and if anyone has had a similar experience I am worried that there might be more to my issue than I think .

5 Replies 5

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Magnolia Tree and welcome.

Congratulations on the new member of your family! It is so lovely reading your post seeing both parents being so involved.

Being a new parent is tough. Most especially when you are the one less confident with bub. Do you find your wife hovers when you are trying to comfort your daughter?

I ask because my husband was the same. After a while he stopped trying to help as much simply because he thought I did a better job. He told me when he tried I would 'correct' him which made it worse.

It is worth asking your wife to have some baby free time (maybe book her something nice like a massage) so it allows you time to learn to cope with bub on your own. You are more than capable. Expressed breastmilk can be stored in the freezer and date labelled if that seems an issue.

Regular time with just you and your daughter is good for everyone. Your wife gets a break. Bub has two loving parents willing to care. And you will gain confidence in time.

That said if this feeling has been an issue for a while it is well worth making an appointment with your gp to talk about postnatal depression. It is not just an issue for mothers but for both partners.

This time of life is such a massive change. We aren't always aware of how much life and our relationships change. And it is bloody scary suddenly knowing you are responsible for this tiny human being and not confident.

No parent is perfect. Lord knows I am not. We all muddle through and do the best we can.

What is important is recognising you and your wife are a team. Youre both equally responsible and capable of caring for for your child as well as eachother. Bonding is not always easy but youre never alone in this.

Have you spoken to your wife? Maybe it is time.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Magnolia Tree

As usual, Nat has some legendary and supportive advice. I also, congratulate you on your new addition!

Trying times indeed, when someone comes along who challenges us in so many ways. By the way, the vibes we send out aren't the stuff of imagination. Even science suggests they exist, so your daughter possibly is feeling your stress and tension. Wondering what you feel comfortable with, in the way of establishing relaxed interaction. A few suggestions:

  • Bath time
  • Gentle baby oil massage
  • Nappy changes (my husband used to gag uncontrollably back in the day, when our teenagers were tiny)
  • Bottle feeding
  • Casual pram strolls (just the 2 of you involved)
  • Reading bedtime stories or singing to her as you lay beside her, so she becomes used to your voice

The list goes on.

I truly do get the fear of failure aspect. With both my kids, I navigated the challenges of post natal depression. A sense of failure was a big issue. We typically tend to hear about the high points of parenting from others and not necessarily about the every day challenges, so the question 'What's wrong with me?' tends to come up a little if we're not automatically mastering parenting.

With my daughter now 16 and my son 13, I have learned an important thing along the way - they are 2 of my greatest teachers in life. Through feedback/communication we guide each other throughout our relationship. Your daughter will guide you throughout parenting, just as you will guide her (it's a mutual learning process that never ends whilst the 2 of you are in each other's lives). Whether she's a few months old or 16 years old, you'll face adjustment periods but you will get there with effective communication.

So...whilst you work toward stronger bonds, think about a variety of ways where you can effectively communicate 'I am here for you and I love you'. Yes, the crying or screaming can be pretty confronting and something we can take personally. If only babies could speak, the whole deal would be a lot easier and calmer: 'Dad, you're stressing me out. Just chill!' 'Dad, I've been living inside of that woman for 9 months so I'm tuned into her vibes a little more than yours. Don't take it personally as we're both mastering the bonding thing!' 'Dad, I'm lucky to have you in my life and I'll confirm it for you through the first smile I give to you. Just be patient!' If only they could talk!

Take care Magnolia Tree. Have no doubt, you're a master in the making! All masters begin as apprentices.

Community Member

Babies cry and scream, it's not personal.

It doesn't hurt them to cry, if you feel overwhelmed walk away and try again in a few minutes

Play baby handball when she's crying and share the load

Hi there everyone

i really appreciate the advice and suggestions here. Some of these we have already put into practice like bath time , bottle feeding and nappy changing which is good to know . Today the baby didn’t settle for me and I felt much calmer and didn’t let it work me up. I just keep trying different things but felt better about it all.

It felt good to put it out there how I was feeling and to get some useful advice and reassurance was very comforting so thank you.

Magnolia Tree, don't feel like a failure just because she won't settle with you, my daughter was the same, so I tried to take her when she was awake and I would play with her, mainly to give her mum a rest, but also to try to connect with this amazing bundle of joy. It didn't happen straight away, but one day she was so tired she fell asleep laying on my chest. After that, she had to see me every night or she wouldn't settle.

Take your time, you have her whole life to connect with her, make it worth it.