What if a baby only wants Mom to hold her? Is this normal? What can be done about it? 

This mom wants tips on what to do since her daughter screams when anybody but herself holds her.

baby only wants mom to hold herPin


Mom’s Question:

My 3-month-old will only let me; her mother, hold her. She screams when anybody else holds her, including the father; is this normal? It is frustrating and I worry that she is not bonding properly with her dad. Also, it makes me so exhausted.

I don’t know what to do. Anyone else experiencing this?


What To Do When Baby Only Wants Mom

Your situation is exhausting for sure and also common and completely normal! Most babies have periods when only mom will do. 

The Bonding With Mom and Dad

For the young baby to only want mom is part of their bonding process. The baby first bonds and learns to feel completely secure with one person, their primary caregiver, which is most often their mom, and only then will the process continue at full speed with someone else. The most common steps will be to first bond with mom and then with dad (or other second caregiver) (and then with siblings, relatives, friends, et cetera.) 

It is fair to say, however, that while there is substantial research available on the mom-baby bonding process, research is more limited on dad-baby bonding. A recent study (2022) concluded that there are substantial gaps in the understanding of paternal bonding, including that existing studies don’t actually have a definition of what paternal bonding actually is. Few studies focused on fathers’ voices to identify what paternal bonding is, and instead, maternal bonding definitions were applied. 

It was reported that dads often felt more distant from their babies after delivery, which led to the conclusion that it is important to promote the father-baby bonding process.

So, even if this research didn’t provide much additional guidance, it did support the notion that it is common that dads are not as bonded with their babies in the beginning, and that it is important to work a bit on the father-baby bonding. 

How Dad Can Bond With A Baby That Only Wants Mom

It is, of course, a lot easier to bond with a baby that “cooperates”. Bonding is a lot about interaction, skin-to-skin, and in general, being close. A baby can never be “spoilt” by being held too much. If your baby really does not accept being held by dad at all, make sure that dad is close to you and your baby as much as possible. If he interacts, talks, smiles, and so on with your baby, she will start feeling secure with him too.

And Dad can help out with stroller walks, diaper changes, housework, and other things as well to help you feel less overwhelmed.

Being 3 months old, your baby will very soon become more active and easier to play with. Dad can go down on the floor or bed and play together. (Here are some tips on games to play with a 3-month-old.)

Just as the situation can be extremely exhausting for Mom, it can be extremely frustrating or disappointing for Dad. It is not fun to feel rejected, and it can make the dad feel that he has no bond with the baby.

Try to work together as a team to improve the situation. Do not get tunnel vision and view every “rejection” as a failure. Instead, set a goal together that, for example, one month from now, Dad and baby can spend time together without mom (and enjoy it). 

Then make sure to involve Dad as much as possible in playing,  diapering, cuddling, talking, etc., with Mom close by and probably holding the baby in the beginning. When your baby is fed, alert, and happy, try short periods of time in Dad’s arms – maybe together with a T-shirt that smells Mom. 

Then repeat and extend. 

A month from now, the situation is more than likely improved if Dad has taken the time to interact a lot with your baby.

Finally, take a look at the tips here for some other parents with a baby screaming in their dad’s arms.

I hope this helps,

Read Next


Research References

Add your comments below or return to Baby Bonding Q&A

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    My 3.5-month-old baby girl has bonded with me very well, so much that she only wants me to hold her and the last 4 weeks have been okay with her dad holding her now. She used to cry when he would hold her, I figured it was because I was taking care of her all day and breastfeeding her. She usually see her grandma and grandma every week but she will cry at the top of her lungs if they hold her. I would like her to be able to bond with her other family members but this is not the case. I would like her grandma to babysit too to give us a break but the intense crying from my baby worries me to much that I don’t to leave her. I have to go back to work soon so I’m very concerned about this.

  2. Jeremy

    My daughter is a little over 3 months and she will only calm down when I hold her. When I leave for work My wife deals with a screaming baby for 10.5 hours per night. I am very very concerned. I have read things that screaming with hurt development. My wife had a few illnesses that prevented her to be around the baby for about 2.5 weeks when she was about 5 weeks old. That meant I had to everything.. I e feeding, bathing, changing… everything. I enjoyed the time. My baby has acid reflux and is on Prevacid twice a day.. and she had erbs palsy in her right arm.. So let’s just say the past 3 months have been nothing short of HELL. So, when I get home at 1am from work my baby is crying… no screaming in her mother’s arms but the instant I take her… immediate calmness. This is my first baby and I don’t know what else to do. My wife has tried really hard helping with feedings, diaper changes, etc. Any advice that helps with this.

  3. May

    Hi everyone
    I am a first-time mom. my daughter is 4 months old. Since 2 1/2 month old, she has been like that, she wants only her mum to hold her. I have to go to work and am unable to do so. I want to know how long this will last. Now she is 4 months old and she let her dad holds her. Any1 has an idea of how long will it take for her to get along with other people. I have appointed a babysitter for her. The sitter tries to stay with her, but sometimes she starts crying nonstop, I have to take her back. Sometimes I am very worried about that as I need to get back to work. I am trying different methods to make her get used to the sitter.

  4. Michelle

    My little guy has totally changed from loving everyone to only handling others for so long and then needs his mom again. I and my husband have tried to go out twice and end up getting called home from an aunt and gramma. Hope he gets better bso we can have some alone time again.

  5. Thea

    I have the same problem…. she will let her dad hold her but when she is really upset only I can calm her down. we live with family and she sees them every day but it does not matter. my one brother says it is bc I am overbearing. I get nervous when we want to go out bc people want to hold her and I am not sure how to politely say no.

  6. Lily

    I know exactly how you feel! My baby is most content with me. I love it that I make her happy but once she’s with grandma or uncle or someone else she is ok for a few mins then gets cranky. once shes in my arms shes happy again. shes a little better with her daddy than other people but it’s not the same as when shes with me. I’m just hoping she will get better as she spends more time with them.

  7. Rebecca

    My 4-month-old only wants me or even dad. But not really anyone else. And people take it personally and get mad. I’m finding that I always feel like I have to explain myself of why she is that way. I actually am getting mad that they are getting mad. Not sure about what to do. Because I don’t mind that my baby only wants me.

  8. Lina

    I’m in the exact same position, my almost four-month-old won’t let her dad hold her. she’s not too bad with my sister, but she seems to like women more than men. I’m hoping she will grow out of it soon as I’m heading back to work in two months and wouldn’t want to leave a screaming baby with anyone. fingers crossed!

  9. In the same boat

    Very Normal!
    My daughter is 5 months and still only wants ME!
    Which your family members who hold her which results in her screaming should not take it personally. Odds are your around baby a LOT more than they are. Plus, the baby spent 9 months inside your womb only hearing you! She recognizes you and feels comfortable with you.
    Enjoy it while it lasts because it will be gone before you know it =)