Health Behavior, Health Promotion, and the Transition to Parenthood: Insights from Research in Health Psychology and Behavior Change

  • Martin S. HaggerEmail author
  • Kyra Hamilton


The transition to parenthood represents a period of considerable change. Much of the change is positive as parents experience the inherent emotional and social benefits of becoming a parent. However, it is also a period of considerable challenge and stress, which can have deleterious effects on health and well-being. Increased demands of caring for an infant can lead to loss of sleep, limited ‘leisure’ time, restrictions on social life, and difficulties in managing ‘work-life’ balance. In addition, the disruption and time demand lead to parents ‘falling out’ of health habits. Parents also have new responsibilities to care for the health of their child, and socialize them into healthy habits. Identifying strategies parents can adopt to initiate and maintain health behaviors during the transition to parenthood may be important means to increase their physical and psychological health. In addition, providing parents with the motivation and means to socialize their children into health behaviors is an important health promotion goal. The present chapter reviews the key behavioral health issues experienced by adults in the transition to parenthood, focusing on behaviors that will promote good physical and psychological health, and the imperative of adopting behaviors that will promote and maintain the health of their child. Research on the application of social cognitive theories to predict and understand health behavior in parents and their children will be reviewed. Based on this research, theory-based behavior change strategies aimed at promoting health behaviors in parents in the transition to parenthood and their children will be identified.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Psychology and Speech PathologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.School of Applied PsychologyGriffith UniversityMt. GravattAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Sport and Health SciencesUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  4. 4.Health and Psychology Innovations (HAPI) Lab, School of Applied PsychologyGriffith UniversityMt. GravattAustralia

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