AIM This study assessed the mental health of parents of children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), compared their mental health with age-matched and gender-matched references and examined parental and child predictors for mental health problems. METHODS A total of 125 mothers and 106 fathers of 125 children with active and inactive IBD from the Swiss IBD multicentre cohort study were included. Parental mental health was assessed by the Symptom Checklist 27 and child behaviour problems by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Child medical data were extracted from hospital records. RESULTS While the mothers reported lower mental health, the fathers' mental health was similar, or even better, than in age-matched and gender-matched community controls. In both parents, shorter time since the child's diagnosis was associated with poorer mental health. In addition, the presence of their own IBD diagnosis and child behaviour problems predicted maternal mental health problems. CONCLUSIONS Parents of children with IBD may need professional support when their child is diagnosed, to mitigate distress. This, in turn, may help the child to adjust better to IBD. Particular attention should be paid to mothers who have their own IBD diagnosis and whose children display behaviour problems.