Believe it or not, it’s a common situation for new dads to have some struggles bonding with their little ones. Mom’s bond with the baby is mostly effortless because of naturally bond with their babies in the womb.
Dads usually need to exert extra effort to build their little ones’ trust and affection. So, what can you do if your baby cries if he/she is being held by his/her dad?
When my son was around 4 months old, we went through this stage where he only wants to be held by me. Each and every time his dad would get him, he will start crying and won’t stop until I get him back.
Those are challenging times for sure, emotionally for my husband and physically for me. Dad gets rejected and the mom gets drained, we needed to do something about it.
We started slowly by getting his dad more involved in his daily routine and made sure that he’s always around our son whenever he could so that he can be used to his presence and his scent. Even if I technically still do all the tasks with my son at first, his dad would sneak in some tiny steps like after I give our son a bath, he would be the one to wrap him in a towel and squeeze in for a second or two for a hug.
Eventually, these little steps become bigger and longer walks. The key is to not give up too quickly, here are some things you can do if your little one cries when dad holds them.
Ways To Bond With Your Baby
Most of the time, it’s the lack of bond and familiarity that is causing the baby to be uneasy with his/her dad, mommy is the main caregiver, and she gives your baby everything that they need.
Choosing mommy over daddy is the safest and easiest way to go; your baby knows how mommy loves them. But if you give the dad their fair chance in proving to his baby that he cares and loves as much as mommy do, I’m sure baby will warm up to dad in no time. Here are some bonding tips you might want to try.
- Let dad help – It’s easy for moms to respond to what their baby needs automatically. We could be doing something and hear our babies cry, and we shift gears without even thinking that maybe dad can do it. Let them change the baby’s diaper or give them the attention that they want by carrying them, simple daily tasks that would make a big impact on your baby and his/her dad’s relationship.
- Hear him out – Moms usually decide what’s best for baby, what to eat, what to do, when to do it, how to do it. Leaving the dad with little to nothing at all when it comes to decisions for their little ones because, after all, mothers know best. But giving the dad a chance to contribute to decision-making for the baby’s well-being will get him more involved and would help him understand your baby better.
- Let dad feed your baby – For formula-fed babies, it’s going to be a little easier. Let dad take over once it’s feeding time for the baby to know that dad can provide them with nourishment too. It is also best if you focus on your baby while they are feeding. Establish an eye to eye contact for your baby to feel safe and cozy, just like with mommy. For breastfeeding moms, it might be a little tricky, but it’s still worth a try, pump some breastmilk and fill their feeding bottle to let the dad try and give them their milk; this may or may not work for the first few tries because breastfed babies are extra attached to their moms and well, the comfort and safety breastfeeding provides for them. That is not a reason to give up though, keep trying dad, your baby will come around.
- Be present as much as you can – Even if only mom could do most of the activities with baby, having the dad’s presence would slowly make your little one feel comfortable and at ease with him. Getting him to gradually be involved with your usual activities like playtime, bathtime, naptime, and all other simple activities with your baby would increase your baby’s trust and affection towards his/her dad. A relationship with a child is simple yet complicated, they would only require your time, attention, and affection, but you need to give them your undivided presence.
- Let dad take the baby for walks – You’ll be amazed how a simple walk to the park or even just outside your house could make a baby calm down. It’s as if everything they were looking for is right outside your doorstep. Let dad do this with your LO so both of them could be relaxed and just taking in all these sights outside their usual view (which is inside your home).
- Leave dad and baby alone – Moms are usually their preferred parent, and of course, they would always want to be held by mom if she’s around. Let dad be a dad without mom being around to be the baby’s preferred option, it’s gonna be hard to choose mom if she’s not around right? This will give the dad his time and chance to form a stronger bond with his baby.
- Make baby laugh – What better way would be to establish a good relationship with your baby than to make them happy? Play silly faces, sing songs, show them tricks, know what makes them happy, create a space where they feel loved and safe. It will not matter how you would look like while doing it; as long as they give you that smile or that laugh, it’s worth it.
- Establish eye to eye – Looking at your baby eye to eye gives them the feeling they are being understood and seen. Just like adults, there’s nothing we want more but to be understood, it will give your little one a feeling of security and comfort. This could be the start of trust from your baby, which would eventually turn into a better bonding and relationship.
- Let dad handle learning time – Babies love exploring new things, having dad read your little one new books, show new colors, play new toys, hear new sounds, sensory play. If your baby is old enough to eat solid foods, then it’s also a great way to learn new tastes and smells. Let dad be his/her learning buddy for them to get used to their dad’s company.
- Be part of their daily routine – Take a task or two out of mommy’s list and be part of your baby’s daily routine, may it be bath time, or as simple as tummy time, the weight if the activity doesn’t really matter. What we want to establish is for your baby to expect you to do these activities with them, they might refuse for your first few tries but keep trying slowly and gradually to let your baby know that you are willing to really be involved.
It’s Just a Phase
What about if your baby has been completely at ease and comfortable with dad when all of a sudden 2nd-month mark came around and poof!
Baby doesn’t want to be with dad, doesn’t want to be held by dad, cries his/her heart out if dad takes them from mom? It’s possibly just a phase, of course consulting your doctor would be the best recommendation to make sure.
But according to Dr. Ronald Barr, “a developmental pediatrician who has likely done more studies on infant crying than anyone in the world, came up with the phrase the Period of PURPLE Crying.”
Yes, PURPLE in all capital letters because each letter stands for different characteristics of a baby’s crying during this phase.
- P – Peak of crying
- U – Unexpected
- R – Resist soothing
- P – Pain-like face
- L – Long-lasting
- E – Evening
It is a period that most infants go through where they cry for hours and you can’t figure out why, even if the doctors tell you that your baby is perfectly healthy and that nothing is wrong with your little one, you go home and the crying starts again.
It usually begins at 2 weeks and could go as far as 3-4 months of age. When babies go through this phase, they seem to resist soothing of any kind, they would go on until they decide to stop on their own, nothing would help unless they decide to stop.
As long as you had your baby checkup and the doctor confirmed that he/she is in the best health, it’s pretty normal and just like any other phase this too shall pass, just make sure to never leave your baby unsupervised while they are crying their lungs out because they might still need your assistance, just to be safe.
It’s easy to be upset when you feel like your baby doesn’t want you to hold them, but you always have to remember that unlike adults these little humans are still learning how to live life, how to express and receive love and affection.
Sometimes it gets too much and it confuses and upsets them which would lead to them wanting to feel safe and comfortable, they would always go back to what they know and is familiar with.
Don’t take it too personal dads, be patient and give your little ones all the love and affection that they would take and give them space if that’s what they need but never stop trying to make them feel loved and cared for. Your baby can’t dislike you forever, they’ll come around.
I hope this article helped you in any way, please don’t hesitate to share your own stories in the comments section. Stay happy and safe!