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Home > Baby Helpline > Bonding Questions > 5-Month-Old Baby Screams Whenever Dad Touches Him

5-Month-Old Baby Screams Whenever Dad Touches Him

by Kristina Ball
(Seattle, Wa, Usa)

My 5-month-old son screams whenever his dad touches or holds him. It really upsets my husband and he says it makes him not want to even go around him or do anything for him.

I am at my wits end at what to do. I am so exhausted because I have to do everything if we don’t want the baby to scream. I am spread so thin.

What can we do? Please help

Baby Help Line:

Tips When Baby Doesn’t Accept Dad

It is quite common that a baby starts prefering one of the parents, usually mom. It can be tough for both parents, but most – at least emotionally – for the one NOT prefered.

It is, however, also really hard for Moms when you can’t get a break. Babies are often far more attached to their mother’s – after all they start life inside you. You smell all nice and milky, you are probably far more attuned to how to soothe him.

It is very natural for a little baby to want security and if mom is there the most, mom is prefered; simple as that. From time to time at least. It is a natural development and bonding process.

But since your husband is sad about it and you are exhausted, you should of course try to change it! What dad should NOT do is to give up! More time spent with the baby is needed, not less!

At first, dad can start making lots of eye contact and play lots of smiley games like blowing raspberries, and peepo – all while in your arms. This way your baby will gain more confidence with him. Dads can often be a little scary, big deep voices, rougher movements, different smells etc. And often the time we want to hand over the baby, is late in the day, baby is tired and Mom is getting a bit stressed and wants to get dinner on, and he will pick up on your withdrawal. And just when you most need a break, all he wants is you!

Another possibility is to invest in a front carrier pack. This way, your baby can be in dad’s arms, getting used to his smell, but still see you, if that helps. Or even without seeing you, many 5-month-old babies really love being up and around and being carried face out on dad’s chest when going out to touch the leaves or flowers for example can be a great adventure – enough to “forget” mom for a little while.

Have you tried going away for short periods of time, leaving your baby and husband to each other? That is actually the most effective way to speed up the bonding process between the two of them. This may not be appropriate at first, but once they have become a little more bonded than now, you can start practising by just taking a bath or shower with the door shut and the baby awake and together with dad. After a while yo uwill have to go shopping, going to the hair dresser or whatever… 🙂 Choose a time when your baby is likely to be alert and content and simply walk out of the house! Agree with your husband for how long, and make sure you enjoy it and rely on them handling the situation. Even if it is just for 30 minutes it will give them time alone and you too.

Related:  Is Baby Just Overly Sensitive To Noise?

Another, maybe even better option if you are exhausted is that your husband and baby leave the house and let you relax and sleep. Your baby is getting old enough to enjoy both going to a playground to watch other kids and maybe try the swing or to start baby swimming. Maybe your husband could consider a baby swim class once per week as his little project with your baby?

If you continue to let them spend time together as often as possible (with and without you), I’m quite sure things will improve. Maybe your child will continue to prefer mom for a long time – many babies do – but it can be to a lesser degree.

I really wish you good luck!

Here are some more tips for dad on how to bond with a baby

And here is a long forum discussion among parents who feel rejected by their babies.
Paula

Find comments below.

Search EasyBabyLife For More Tips Here!

Comments for “5-Month-Old Screams Whenever Dad Touches Him”

Jun 12, 2013

Desensitizing and Associations

by: Jen Hunter


That’s awful, and I bet it turns into a real feedback loop, too – because now the dad is all stressed out around the baby and the baby can sense it!

I think small babies naturally prefer whoever’s around them the most, especially if that person is the source of All Good Things (namely milk). Please tell your guy not to take it too personally (though I know that’s hard).

I think instead of just plopping the baby right into his dad’s arms, get him used to his dad being around him, in closer and closer proximity. Spend a lot of time with dad just in the room next to him.

Also make sure that your husband becomes the source of other Good Things, so the baby gets good associations with him. So if the kid doesn’t want to take a bottle from him, perhaps the dad could use a favorite toy or cuddle the baby in a favorite blanket. Don’t let his dad be around when the baby is fussy or tired.

Hope this helps!


Jun 23, 2013

Let’s include Daddy
by: KathyB


It’s great that dad wants to be close to the baby so hopefully that will come soon. There might be more than one reason the baby reacts negatively to dad. Women naturally have a softer, gentler touch and usually a softer voice. Their skin is smoother so when they hold the baby to their face, the skin contact is soft.

Dad should make sure he uses a light touch when lifting/holding baby. He should speak in a low tone when near the baby and try to use a light, sing-song tone that comes naturally to women but not to men. If he has facial hair, he shouldn’t let it touch the baby’s skin.

You could try having him just sit on a couch next to you while you hold the baby. Have him gently touch baby’s hand, leg, foot while speaking softly to him. Gradually move the baby so he’s on daddy’s lap but still close to you. A few sessions of this should help immensely.

When my son was a baby, he had the same fear of dad but after several sitting-together occasions, he learned to play with dad and the situation resolved.

Encourage your husband to understand this is fairly normal infant behavior and is not at all a reflection on him as a parent or a statement that the baby doesn’t like him. Silly as it sounds, many men are that concrete in their thinking and it needs to be fixed now.


Aug 25, 2013

Dad’s Shirt
by: Anonymous


Babies especially young babies rely a lot on smell to feel out a situation. They know mom’s smell means safety food and warmth.

So here’s a suggestion, and this works both ways, try putting one of your husband’s shirts (that is not fresh from the laundry, it has to have a bit of “dad” on it.) try putting dad’s shirt in your sons crib with him when he’s asleep or use it as a light second blanket. The smell will reach him on a subconscious level and help your baby to associate the comfortable world of sleep with his dad’s smell. Also when dad is not around try keeping one of his shirts nearby for feeding time. This also works the other way, your baby associates your smell with safety so keep a t shirt or a towel you used on your hair around for your husband to drape over his arm when he holds the baby.

And one more thing, if your son is bottle feeding (or if you pump and then bottle feed) you can start out feeding the baby and then when he is half way through slowly hand him off to dad without interrupting his drinking. Now dad will also be someone who provides him with food and comfort.

Good luck and I hope these tips help. I know this must be a tough situation for you.


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