Ireland’s first in-depth parenting survey reveals new mums and dads feel more fulfilled – but also overwhelmed and guilty


We all want to be good parents, but a new survey has revealed that more than one in four Irish parents feel under pressure to ‘outdo’ other parents. The landmark study undertaken on behalf of WaterWipes, the world’s purest baby wipe, found 29% of Irish mums and dads admit they feel under pressure to outshine other parents. Leading parenting expert Kate Barlow said it all stems from parents’ natural urge to show their baby he or she is loved, parents should try not to put themselves under too much pressure.

She said, “It’s only natural to get a little competitive sometimes, after all, you feel your baby is the most special and wonderful baby in the world, so of course you want them to know they are the most loved. But it can have a negative effect if you let it develop to a situation where you have to compete with other parents to feel you’re doing a good job.”

There’s a reason babies are called bundles of joy – almost all parents questioned as part of the nationwide survey said their lives were much happier since their children were born. Ninety-two per cent of Irish mums and dads agreed that becoming a parent had lived up to their expectations, 93% said having a child had brought them a new kind of happiness, and 91% feel more fulfilled after having a baby.

But there is a downside – half the people questioned admitted feeling overwhelmed since becoming a parent, three in 10 said their happiness had been tempered by feelings of guilt, and 25% said being a parent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The landmark study also found that 52% of Irish mums and dads worry that their baby should be hitting certain milestones by a certain time. It’s tougher for mums, with 60% of mothers admitting to feeling the pressure compared to just 43% of Irish dads.

Luckily leading parenting consultant Kate Barlow says we have nothing to worry about. “This is a very common problem, the fear that baby ‘should’ be sitting, rolling over, crawling and walking by a certain time, and it becomes even worse if we compare ourselves to our friends and their children. Of course it’s only natural to worry a little sometimes, that’s part of being a parent. But if something was seriously wrong you and your support team – your family, friends, GP or health visitor – would pick up on it very quickly. If your baby is happy and healthy in every other way, he just hasn’t started walking yet, that’s fine – even if his cousin is the same age and started walking a week ago.”

For Irish parents the most important milestone is baby’s first smile. Almost a quarter – 24% – of people questioned said their child’s first smile was their favourite moment, with 17% of dads and 30% of mums choosing this as their top milestone. Baby’s first steps came second at 19%, with 23% of dads and 16% of mums choosing it, with baby’s first words came in at third place, voted for by 19% of mums and 17% of dads. The other most cherished milestones were:

  • Sending Child to Creche – 16%
  • First Sleep Through The Night – 14%
  • Potty Training Child – 5%
  • First Tooth – 4%