• Mon, Jan 20 - 9:00 am ET

10 Totally Irrational Fears I Have As A Parent

scaredI really didn’t want to write this post, but Eve threatened to blackmail me, so here goes. Parents, what are you most afraid of? I feel like I spend the majority of my day trying to get evil, worst-case scenario parenting thoughts out of my head, and I hardly ever win.

I do have an obsessive personality, so sometimes I struggle with compulsive checking—baby gates, stove knobs, toilet lids, the works. Fearful parents, I feel your pain. You may want to read this post at your own risk since it covers the top 10 worst parenting fears that creep into your brain in the middle of the night. The stuff nightmares are made of.

But who am I kidding? If you Google any parenting problem, these horrible topics are going to pop up. So read on and prepare yourself to lose some sleep tonight.

As a parent, I’m terrified of…

1.    SIDS.

sleep

The moment you get pregnant and start researching baby stuff, it’s SIDS, all day, every day. I’m not discounting the horror that is SIDS, and my heart breaks for parents that have lost a child. But I wish the “SIDS propaganda” was a little less aggressive for new parents because I could barely sleep until my baby turned six months old.

2.    Strangling on a drapery cord.

cord

This topic turns my stomach every time I think about it. Unless you have nerves of steel, you may not want to read this real-life story about strangulation by a window blind cord.

3.    Drowning in a toilet.

toilet

I don’t know when toilets become safe again, but I read some random article about how toilets are dangerous for toddlers. I freak out about keeping our toilets closed at all times, but I haven’t gone the extra mile to buy a toilet lock yet.

4.    Drowning in the bath.

bath

I don’t leave my kids alone in the bath, but I’m super paranoid of turning my back for even a split second and causing their demise.

5.    Falling bookcases.

bookcase

This story about death by tipping furniture makes me want to ugly cry. This is truly one of the worst scenarios I could ever imagine as a parent.

6.    Boiling oil.

pot

I must have watched too much Rescue 911 as a kid, but I always worry about my toddler tipping over a pot from the stove onto his beautiful little head. It doesn’t help that my husband has taken up deep frying in the backyard as a hobby. Paranoia city.

7.    The great crib escape.

crib

I hear stories of toddlers escaping from cribs and endangering themselves with random pointy things in the house all the time. It’s no wonder I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night at the slightest sound.

8.    Falling off a balcony.

balcony

I just can’t get the picture of a tiny baby plummeting to its death off a hotel balcony out of my head. It’s no wonder I was a nervous wreck when we stayed on the third floor of a hotel last time we were at the beach.

9.    Getting dropped on the head.

cry

Babies are known to roll around and fall—off couches, changing tables, high chairs. Whenever my baby gets a bump on his head, I worry for hours about whether or not he has a silent brain bleed that will kill him in his sleep.

10. Product recalls.

product

This one absolutely sucks because there is no controlling it. Just recently I saw a product recall on Facebook for a battery-powered lullaby toy that my son uses that apparently was RANDOMLY COMBUSTING. Yes, he slept with it every night. Yes, we threw it away ASAP.

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    UGH scariest post ever

  • Jessica

    I am constantly worried about getting into a car accident with my kids in the car. I obsessively check the car seats and booster seats and flip out if someone leans over to get a toy or falls asleep all awkwardly slumped over. It makes long car trips a challenge. Hell, it makes trips to the drive-thru a challenge.

  • Kay_Sue

    The great crib escape was one of my worst fears after I had a customer at work whose child fell and broke his leg. He was about a year and a half old with a full leg cast, and I couldn’t imagine it.

    Do not–let me repeat, DO NOT–fall for the toilet locks. Because guess who’s going to be fumbling with that thing at 3 in the morning when they need to pee? (Hint: It ain’t baby.)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Toilets aren’t that big a deal, right?? Please comfort me. :(

    • Kay_Sue

      We used to just shut the door and it gave us forewarning if they went in there. But they’ve always just kind of ignored them. I have no idea why I put the locks on to begin with, except maybe because I was pregnant with the littlest one and everything seemed so scary again, but they are really not fun. Not fun at all.

      As a sane, not pregnant person past the wee little toddler stages, I don’t think they are a big deal. Both of mine were exposed to toilets and the worst that has happened is that they really enjoy potty humor, although I think that is unrelated.

      I might feel differently if they were obsessively interested in the toilet, but I am lucky not to have had that problem.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yeah, we will probably never do the toilet locks. We also shut the door to all of the bathrooms regularly because my toddler will pull down the toilet paper, etc. But there has to be a point when they are too tall for toilet death. Why didn’t that scary article tell me that? Humph.

    • Kay_Sue

      They never do. I think they want us to live perpetually in fear.

      I’m fairly certain the 7 year old is safe, but who knows? The 3 year old is tall for his age, does that count? No idea.

    • Jen

      I’ve heard that they become a problem if baby reaches in to grab something and slips. Since toddlers are top-heavy, they can’t lift their heads out of the water.

    • ted3553

      I hadn’t thought of that. My little guy has a massive head so he’ll be top heavy until he’s 15.

    • DatNanny

      TMI TIME.

      My partner has a small scar. On his penis. From TEARING HIS PENIS OPEN on a loose screw as he climbed out of his crib as a child.

      I’m terrified of raising his children.

    • Kay_Sue

      That’s horrifying.

      They used to make crib tents that went over the top of the crib to keep the inmates in the asylum. I had one for the older one, but couldn’t find it for the younger. I guess they were dangerous somehow? No idea, but they worked like a dream…

  • Katie

    I have a fear about my daughter being burned. I was 18 months when I was burned by hot tea and I had to spend months in the hospital. I get nervous even she’s in kitchen with me when I’m cooking.

    • Kay_Sue

      This one is terrifying too because it happened to a kid I knew when I was a child. He was a toddler, and I was probably a tween, but it’s really stuck with me. We were lucky because in the way small stages when they couldn’t be trusted, we blocked the kitchen entirely with a gate, and as they got older, they learned that playing or running in the kitchen while Mommy is cooking is a one way ticket to their room until she is done. If they are helping, it’s easy to manage because they have to stand on a chair–so if there is something hot being moved, they know to stay on the chair, and they are far enough away from anything boiling over that it isn’t a danger.

      I am truly psychotic/neurotic/various other -otics about it because of just seeing that, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have been on the receiving end of the trauma and treatment. Sounds like a totally rational fear.

  • Ife

    The SIDS fear is so pervasive that I still get scared and check on my youngest if she naps longer than usual. She’s 2.5!

    • Kay_Sue

      I do this too! And he just turned three not too long ago….I don’t know if that ever ends? Maybe by the time he moves out??

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    I have every, single one of these things. I’d also like to add choking. I am unreasonably afraid of choking.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Choking is #11 for SURE!

    • Kay_Sue

      My mom is terrified of choking. She was always slightly nervous about it, because I got stuck on a hunk of hot dog as a toddler. But a few years ago, a child in her class (who was 8, so she thought safe) snuck a hard candy he’d stolen from his mom and started choking in the middle of class…she freaked, and can’t even stand it when my kids cough now…

      Of course, my younger has the beginnings of his father’s sick sense of humor and likes to cough and make her jump. *sighs* *shakes head* *contemplates again exactly what she is raising*

      Long story short, choking is scary and a pretty common fear too, I think.

    • Bethany Ramos

      My husband has dramatically choked in front of me TWICE as a grown adult, where he almost needed the Heimlich maneuver. I hope he doesn’t have a small throat that has been passed down to our children…

    • Kay_Sue

      Yet another fear to have–genetics. My dad said that the other night. He’s waiting for results on whether or not he has the BRCA mutation. His sister who went through treatment for breast cancer last year (she was fifth generation) and two of his three brothers have all tested positive for it. He said, essentially, “As if I haven’t had and don’t have enough to worry about for you kids, now I have to wonder if my genes are trying to kill you.” He has a way with words. SMH.

    • Bethany Ramos

      My in-laws are so crazy about their bad genes! I actually think it’s kind of funny because my father-in-law goes on and on about how his mother has Alzheimer’s, total Debbie Downer. I’ve done quite a bit of research on the condition, and most of the risk factors are NOT genetic. Now I just have to think of a nice way to tell him to shut up… ;)

  • TngldBlue

    I read a story about a 4 year old girl killed by a falling dresser several years ago and it still haunts me. Anything that wasn’t already nailed down was immediately bolted to the walls. It looks like a fun house in here and I still walk around “testing” the furniture all the time but it gave me some sort of peace of mind. My current obsession is her falling over our stair railing. Does it ever end?

  • Coby

    Bookcase fear is totally legit. I distinctly remember climbing up a bookcase in my room when I was wee tiny, and the bookcase fell down on top of me. Fortunately, I landed in-between shelves so I was more scared than harmed, but it has made me RELIGIOUS that all of our furniture is either fastened or secure (well, as secure as some things can get).

    • tSubh Dearg

      My mum tells me that I managed to pull a small bookshelf on top of myself when I was learning to walk. I ended up biting through my lip with one of my first teeth. I have no memory of this event but I do have a small scar under my lower lip.

    • Cas

      That same thing happened to my brother when he was maybe 4 and I was 6. I’m sure my mom got a few grey hairs that day b/c as soon is it happened I ran through the house screaming “Josh is DEAD”. He was fine, didn’t even cry.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    My fears: TV falling over on them, and sticking something into an outlet that someone lazily left uncovered!

  • Commenter

    The balcony thing! I don’t let anyone else hold my baby within 10 feet of a balcony edge. HATE them!

    Oh, and let me add another weird, terrifying fear: Rabies.

    Namely, that one of my kids will get a tiny bite from a bat or something else while they’re asleep, to the point where they don’t feel it, and I won’t know they have rabies until symptoms start showing and it’s too late. (Yes, this is a real thing that has happened to people.)

    Never, ever moving out of the city because I’m so afraid of living in the country and rabies.

    And, of course, drowning is totally scary too.

    Gah, why did I read this article?

  • aCongaLine

    These, and falling down stairs. I obsessively check stairs and block stairs with baby gates- it’s insane.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Sooo…. we were really worried about that, and then we watched my 1yo fall and barrel roll down an entire flight (carpeted) at our house. After he barely cried, we found it hilarious!

    • aCongaLine

      my 2.5 year old fell down 1/2 flight several times when we moved into our house (first experience with stairs)- and I think I was definitely more traumatized than her- she just laughed. My 8 month old is starting to turn out to be quite the climber…. she makes me nervous!

      I think I’ve seen too many Law and Orders and CSIs- the victims at the bottom of stairs always have broken necks lol.

  • Sarah

    I used to have a terrible fear of tripping and falling while carrying one of my babies. Also, when my oldest son was a toddler my brother would take him to the mall all the time. I was always afraid that my brother would get distracted and my son would fall into one of the fountains and drown. I even called him a few times to remind him to stay away from the foutains.

    • AnotherMel

      Falling down the stairs carrying my son was something I was
      paranoid about the first time – partly because I probably fell down the stairs
      4-6 times without him during the post partum period. You should have seen how I started to walk down the stairs with him – I was SO scared and so tentative! I get very uncoordinated when I’m sleep deprived.

      I’m terrified of this again now that I can expect to deliver twins anytime in the next 3 weeks. The only good things are our current house has slightly less stairs and I will have more help this time around – but even
      with more help, not sure that balances off 2 babies.

  • Cement Block

    11. Losing child while on vacation —> human trafficking

    • Kay_Sue

      Oh good. I was starting to think I was the only one who had this one, lol.

  • G.E. Phillips

    I’m not a big worrier by nature, but I definitely have some parenting fears. The last month of my pregnancy, I became absolutely of terrified of my baby being strangled by the cord. I spent hours upon hours doing kick counts and trying not to freak the entire fuck out. I had a brother who died when he was 9 months old, so I spent that whole month of Face’s life on edge (superstitious, I guess.) Now, at almost 4, we’ve been through some of the “basics”–Face has been in to the ER (dehydration after a stomach bug) and had surgery (ear tubes.) I feel like a broken bone would suck, but I’m not afraid of it, per se–it might just be an inevitability, based upon his penchant for imaginary skateboarding. So now I’m basically worried about concussions, cancer or Face becoming a teenage herion addict. Sorry, BRB, about to go have a panic attack, thanks.

  • kay

    STAIRS. I’m not as paranoid now (baby is big enough that she’d bounce a little, right?) but falling down the stairs with a tiny baby. Scares the crap out of me.

    • Jen

      First babysitting job with a baby and the changing table was upstairs. No problem, I’d been doing stairs for most my life … so after a change I hit the first step with kid in arm and my foot flies out from under me and I went down hard on my butt, sliding the rest of the way to the first floor, baby still in my arms, one leg at a really weird angle, and when we stopped there was a long moment where we just looked at each other, both trying to decide whether to laugh or freak out. I managed a giggle, she went with it, and I spent the rest of the time limping and religiously avoiding those stairs again.

    • Kay_Sue

      Babies are incredibly bouncy, right? They wouldn’t have that “bouncing baby” designation otherwise…it’d be false advertising. ;)

  • Alex Lee

    That’s a pretty good list. My own personal experiences:

    Falling out of a window – my twin brother apparently pushed me out of a 2 story window when we were 1. I landed in a soft hedge.

    Falling on your head – My mom was holding me in the passenger seat of a car while my aunt drove (yes, this was WAY back in the day) and she stopped short and I ended up on the floor of the car, head first.

    Falling furniture – My twin brother was opening a drawer above his head. He jumped up to grab it and it started tipping with his fingers still clutching the drawer – it fell and “chomped” down onto his knuckles.

    Burning liquid – My uncle was running in the kitchen and snagged the cord to the hot teapot. It poured onto his leg. 25 years later, the scar is still impressive.

    Concussion – I was playing the mandatory game of dodgeball in elementary school. My face managed to dodge the ball, but not the ground. I was K.O’ed and my front tooth required a root canal.

    Stairs – I was coming up the stairs and my daughter was at the top. Mom was in the kitchen and I was out of view. She saw my daughter jump down the stairs (but did not see me catch her two steps down).

    Parents’ hair is grey for a reason.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Ahhhhhhh now I will for sure never sleep again!

  • ted3553

    Mine was dropped or dropped himself on his head a few times when he was little so we got over that one quickly. My biggest fear is the hot water from the stove. It freaks me right out as I went to school with a guy who walked under his mom and she dropped boiling water on him and his head was so scarred from it he basically only grew a tuft of hair. Most of the others, I can baby/toddler proof the house. We keep the bathroom doors and door to the stairs closed so he can run around. It’s all scary but as long as we can manage it, it serves as a way to protect them when they’re so small

  • SusannahJoy

    Yeah, I’m pretty paranoid. When my mom’s coworker lost their daughter (that they used IVF for for years to get) when she fell out of the crib (for the first time, onto the corner of a trash can, on her head) that was bad enough. But then a couple years ago my mom went to wake up my nephew (a week before his 6th birthday) for the annual big family camping trip and found him unconscious, barely breathing. He never woke up. And then my sister’s friend was hit by a drunk driver that killed her two year old. And then a friend of a friend’s 16 year old died from the flu. How the hell are you not supposed to be freaking out constantly? It is a terrifying fact that kids can die suddenly, with no warning whatsoever. And just because most kids don’t, that doesn’t make me feel any better. Sure, my son will probably be fine. But he might not be. And there’s not much I can do about it.

  • Krysta Dey

    My kids are no longer babies/toddlers, but I still have irrational fears. I panic around uncarpeted stairs, fireplace hearths, monkey bars, teeter-totters.. and does the SIDS scare ever go away? Ever?!

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Am I a crummy mom because I don’t worry about most of this stuff?
    But then I have my own worries…
    1. choking
    2. bullying (So far off in the future too)
    3. trouble breathing when sick
    4. home invaders
    5. zombies (half-joking, but I actually can’t sleep at night if I think about zombies because then I try and think how I’d save my son. Oh, god, what a waste of energy. But you know, we are talking irrational fears, right?)

    • AnastasiaMcNally

      OH MY GOSH SOMEONE ELSE WHO DOES THE ZOMBIE THING!!! “The dog would definitely hear anything coming and hold it off for a few minutes and I bet that lamp would make a good weapon! One of us could wield it while the other safely gets the baby out the window… But what if there’s more outside?!?”

      Goodness me. I am so glad my baby is finally asleep and THIS is what I’m lying awake worrying about. Awesome.

    • LiteBrite

      I used to worry about zombies, but then my husband and I had a two-hour long discussion on the steps we would take during the zombie apocalypse, and now that we have a plan I feel much better.

      I’m not joking either. It was a serious conversation.

    • Kay_Sue

      Have you seen Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide? It’s awesome. We keep it on the bookshelf by our door, lol.

      And we’ve had those conversations too.

    • LiteBrite

      I have seen that book. I gave it to a friend of mine for Xmas a couple of years ago. :)

    • Kay_Sue

      I have plans for zombies based on various mythologies. I totally feel that one.

      And without a doubt, this does not make you crummy. Fear is a primal reaction that’s ticked by different things in different people. If you didn’t care what happened to your kid, that’d be WTF, but you do…you just have different cares from Bethany.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    When I was pregnant with Mini Keatres I had plenty of irrational fears (thanks to back-to-back MC’s). Things I thought would make me lose her included:

    Bending over, straining, experiencing the emotions of panic or anger, holding my breath, jumping onto the bed, getting even the tiniest bit sick, and having hunger pains.

    I was a mess. And, mother of irony, one of the only things that made me feel better was sex.

  • CelesteF

    Anti-vaccine people giving my baby pertussis

  • Eric

    At the age of 45, I’m a new father (our son is now 2), and I have so many irrational fears like these. I still worry about blankets in the crib, even though our son has a strong instinct to keep things off his face. I worry about leaving him in the car, and sometimes if he’s quiet in the car set behind me I’ll put my hand back there to feel his touch, or say something to get him to talk, worried that I left him and absent-mindedly drove off. We still cut his food (though less than before) because I’m worried about choking.

    I don’t want him to grow up in a bubble… I just can’t imagine anything happening to him, and these horrific scenarios haunt me throughout the day.

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