What You Should Know About Baby Fever

Both women and men, typically in their 20s and 30s, may have experienced the societal wonder of longing to nurture and cuddle a sweet little bundle of their own. When this happens seemingly out of nowhere, it is often referred to as baby fever. These sentimental feelings can be joyous and somewhat fleeting, like melting over a baby passing by in a stroller and then going on with your day. Or baby fever can be a little more overpowering (read: Reproducing is literally all you can think about). This can be an especially surprising experience if you previously didn't think much about having children or were certain you wanted the child-free life.

"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," says associate professor of psychology at Kansas State University Gary Brase, per ScienceDaily. "While it is often portrayed in women, we noticed it in men, too."  If the desire to have a baby has ever hit you straight on and you're wondering what it's all about, there are a few theories to consider. 

Longing for a baby could release oxytocin

Oxytocin, the "love hormone" or "cuddle chemical," gives us happy feelings of wellbeing when released, per Healthline. It's also the hormone responsible for mother and infant bonding, uterine contractions after childbirth, and lactation (via You and Your Hormones). So if you're holding a friend's newborn baby, smelling their head, and hearing their coos, and oxytocin is released, your brain will likely associate that experience with feelings of joy and love (via Business Insider). Naturally, you'll want more of these happy feelings. If you have had positive experiences with babies and toddlers, this also contributes to baby fever. Whereas if you've been around someone who has a baby with colic, the overwhelming amount of crying could really curb any baby fever you might have had.

Some studies suggest that baby fever is more psychological, a byproduct of the cultural mark in time when many couples are expected to reproduce. "It is also thought that social and familial factors can be an influence as well," says fertility specialist with Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness in New York City Ashlee Binns, in an interview with Romper. "When people are around friends and families with babies, it can trigger that urge to have one, too."

What should you do about baby fever?

The choice to start a family is a massive undertaking. Both the responsibility and the joy are monumental. So, when baby fever seems to take the wheel, it's important to listen to the information, but also stay rational. Is it the right time to have a baby? Does it make sense for both your soul's yearning and your economic position?

In an interview with Live Science, Gary Brase explains that it's difficult to get an objective answer on whether it's a good idea to have a baby. "If you talk to a biologist, they say, 'You want to have children because passing on your genes is the reason why you're here,' but if you talk to an economist, they'd crunch the numbers and say, 'This is a horrible investment idea,'" Brase says. "If you try to do a rational cost-benefit analysis, having a child doesn't make sense. But if you look at it biologically, it's the only thing that makes sense. And then there's actual people that somehow figure it out between those two."

Essentially, the right action comes down to your gut feelings. Perhaps it is, indeed, the perfect time for you to welcome new life into the world. And if your partner is having baby fever, chances are you might just catch it too (via Fatherly). Maybe you just know there's a clear message behind your baby fever. On the other hand, you might be able to intuit that your baby fever will be temporarily appeased by snuggling a niece or nephew and doesn't necessarily signal your time to reproduce has arrived.