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
by Kristina Ball
(Seattle, Wa, USA)
Tips When Baby Doesn’t Accept Dad
Why Babies Cry With Their Dad
It is quite common that a baby starts preferring one of the parents, usually mom. It can be tough for both parents, but most – at least emotionally – for the one NOT preferred.
It is, however, also really hard for Moms when you can’t get a break. Babies are often far more attached to their mothers – 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 preferred; 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!
Helpful tips to make Baby & Dad Function Together
Here are some things you can do to improve the situation:
- 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, the 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!
- Are you co-sleeping? Safe co-sleeping, where your baby is sleeping between the two of you is also a good way for baby and dad to get closer.
- 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 practicing by just taking a bath or shower with the door shut and the baby awake and together with dad. After a while you will have to go shopping, going to the hairdresser 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.
- 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.
Overcoming the Hurt Feelings And Focus on FUN
A crucial point for Dad to focus on is that your baby is not rejecting him as a person. Your baby is just feeling unsafe. There is nothing personally against dad here. If your husband can ignore his hurt feelings while spending time with your baby, and focus on FUN, chances are that your baby will also feel the shift and feel more secure!
If you need ideas on games to play with your baby, check out this book for inspiration. (Link to Amazon). You can also read this post on 5-month-old baby development. You’ll find ideas on how to play with a 5-month-old if scrolling down a bit.
I really wish you good luck!
And here is a long forum discussion among parents who feel rejected by their babies.
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