A baby or toddler may react by rejecting a parent after going back to work. If this has happened to you, you might be sad, worried, and frustrated.
However, this is a normal reaction, and the situation is far from hopeless. Let’s look at why a baby rejects mom after going back to work and some helpful tips on what to do about it! You will also find a large number of comments from parent that have experienced a similar situation.
Can a baby NOT like their mom? I have a 9-month-old baby who doesn’t seem to want me anymore.
Is it common that a baby rejects mom after going back to work? Because that’s what is happening!
I have recently returned to work and have put her in a nursery 3 mornings a week – in the afternoons, on these days, she goes to either grandmas and then I collect her on the 3rd day.
I can’t quite remember if this started at around the same time, but she no longer wants to be with me – she will reach out to anyone else who is around, and this is really upsetting for me.
I rush home to see her, and she cries/moans when she sees me – I hold my hands out to her, and she clings to whoever she is with at the time.
My partner has always spoilt her by carrying her around on his what seems like constantly, so when he comes in from work, she is happy and smiley and wants him to cuddle her and pick her up, and she won’t even look my way!
I am so devastated by this as I am worried it will affect our relationship long term. I have no idea what to do – I play with her, I am the person that teaches her everything she knows, I am the one who gets up in the night to comfort her, I am the one preparing food and doing all the motherly things that need doing – cuddling and playing – but she still doesn’t want me most of the time.
Thanks for taking the time to read,
Helpful Tips if Baby Rejects Mom After Going Back To Work
Thanks for reaching out and talking about the fact that your baby rejects you after going back to work. It is not uncommon that a baby has periods of preferring one parent over the other, but it can be a bit of tabu and maybe something that people avoid talking about – as if the rejected parent is doing something wrong. So thanks for speaking up!
Now to your situation.
Since your baby just recently started to reject you, you don’t have to worry about the overall bonding with your baby.
Instead, I think this is the way to see the situation:
Mom going back to work is a crisis for baby
You ask – can a baby not like their mom..? Well, it, of course, depends on the situation; if the mom and baby live together and have had the possibility to develop a bond, and so on. But in your case, I would say that this is not a relevant worry!
Your girl is acting this way because she loves you and needs you, not the opposite! As you say, you’re the one who has been there for her all her life and still is in many ways, and now you’re suddenly gone much more. Your daughter is going through her first life crisis and adapting to the new situation.
Babies react in different ways when mom (or dad) suddenly starts working. Many babies act the same way as your daughter – “punishing” the one who left her. Other babies become extremely attached to that person any time she or he is around.
Your daughter loves you pretty much more than anything in the world. She can’t even choose not to because you are her mom.
Try to see her reaction in the light of her little crisis, don’t take it personally, and don’t worry. This will not affect your long-term relationship in any way as long as you can stay cool about it. Just continue to be there for her and show that you are still around – even if things are not exactly like before.
Separation Anxiety at 9 Months
One explanation for why your daughter’s reaction is so strong might be that nine months is a sensitive age. Somewhere around this age, babies start realizing that they are separate person from their mom. Very scary! This is the age when separation anxiety and stranger anxiety may come in full force.
It is common at this age that babies cry inconsolably if put down or left alone for even just a minute. Therefore, don’t think of it as spoiling her if your husband is carrying her around. There are studies showing that babies that are being held a lot actually become independent faster. They simply need this period of increased closeness to gain new courage.
Reconnecting with Your Child
I know that it is tough to be rejected and that it is really hard not to take it personally, but try to just love her even more when it happens – both for your own sake and hers! It will pass.
Some things you can try to reconnect faster are to:
1. Laugh together!
Laugh together! Play lots of games with your daughter. Peek-a-boo. for example, is perfect for a baby with separation anxiety. Play games together with both her and her if needed. If she can crawl, chasing each other might be fun.
2. Outdoor fun
Take her outside! Sometimes the distraction of being outside together will help so that she does not focus on her dad being away. Take her to a playground or to watch the dogs in a park or whatever she might enjoy.
3. Safe co-sleeping
Consider co-sleeping or at least “co-falling-asleep-ing”. (Do read the tips in the linked article for safe co-sleeping!) This way, your daughter will get much more time close to you.
4. Work on your own feelings
Really make sure that you put away all your worries and frustrated feelings when interacting with your daughter. Babies can feel our tension. If you are off balance, she might notice, and you thereby reinforce the rejection. Take a deep breath and focus and love and joy when you interact with your daughter.
5. Avoid power struggles
If she reaches for her dad or someone else, let her go without showing your pain. Avoid power struggles around cuddling at all costs! Otherwise, you will reinforce her wishes to put distance between the two of you and her wish to go to the other person with whom she does not experience any bad emotions.
Also, remind yourself over and over again that your daughter’s ability to bond with and socialize with more than one person is a healthy sign of her being secure and developing mentally.
In conclusion, it is painful when a baby rejects mom or dad. Any parent who has been there can relate to your pain. But it is common, and normal, and it will pass, especially if you can avoid reinforcing it by letting your frustrations shine through to your baby. Focus on love and fun!
Good luck, and let us know how things develop!
Read Next On Babies Rejecting a Parent or Grandparent
- Stay At Home Mom Rejected By Baby
- Newborn Baby Rejects Dad
- Infant Grand Daughter Cries When She Sees Me
Hey, parents, this article has a lot of helpful comments, questions, and tips from parents that have experienced a similar situation. Make sure to read those, and feel free to add your own thoughts.
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing are based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians who assist in reviewing and writing articles.