Babies that are breastfed usually go through this stage when they prefer one parent over the other; most of the time, it’s mom. Besides the physical and emotional bond that they have when breastfeeding, babies also feel extra safe and comfortable with the smell and sound of their moms’ voices.
That doesn’t make the dads less of a good parent. Just like any other stage in your baby’s development, this too shall pass.
You and your little one are inseparable almost the entire day, eating together, taking walks together, playing; most of the time, when you give them a bath, it feels like you also took a bath after.
But when daddy comes home and mommy can finally pee alone, your baby refuses to be held by dad. Your baby only wants you. That means less rest for mom and leaves dad feeling the second-best parent.
There are some tricks that you can try to help your baby feel safe and relaxed with their dad or anyone else besides you.
It might be difficult at first to hear or think about your baby crying their lungs out and reaching for you, but getting through this frustrating phase would benefit not only you and your partner but also your baby in the long run.
Tips to give mom a break at bedtime routine
- Get out of baby’s sight – Being your little ones’ primary caregiver, they know that you would provide all their needs and wants. Having your presence would lead them only to want you. Try asking the dad or another caregiver to take over your bedtime routine without you in the room or, better yet, in the house. We as mothers instinctively respond to our baby’s needs, and the moment they cry with their dad, we might give in to the urge and grab them back to stop the crying. It would be best to completely remove yourself from the scene and trust that they will be just fine.
- Let your partner or another caregiver do an activity that your baby already enjoys – Having someone else take over the bedtime routine can’t be done instantly. You might want to start by letting the other caregiver “sit-in” while you do the usual activities with your baby so that they get a glimpse of what to do and what to expect if things don’t go as planned once they do it without you. If they want you to read their favorite book repeatedly until they fall asleep, so be it. If what works for them is you singing their favorite song endlessly, give it to them. Whatever works to make your bedtime routine without mom a success.
- Gradually introduce another caregiver to your baby’s routine – Just like all other changes that we do for our little ones, it won’t be done in a snap of your finger or overnight. Most of the time, you need to go slowly but surely because it’s much more challenging for your baby if it’s not easy for you. You are their comfort blanket and safe person. Having someone else during bedtime is more than just making them sleep. It’s establishing trust and confidence in the other caregiver to give them the same amount of care and nourishment as a mom does.
- Keep trying – It will be frustrating and hard for the first few days or even weeks, but you have to keep trying and don’t give up. According to Laura Markham, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, parenting coach, and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. “It’s always a good idea to start by taking a deep breath and by reminding yourself: This is about them, not about me,” she says.
- Let your partner or another caregiver know the bedtime routine that works for your baby – It would be hard enough for your baby to not see you around during the bedtime routine, make this easier for the other caregiver and your baby by making sure that they know how the bedtime routine goes. What music to play, what not to play, is the lamp going to be on or not? Are they wearing pajamas or just onesies? Should you rock them to sleep, or do they sleep on their own? All these small details don’t sound so important but trust me, it could make or break the bedtime routine for your baby.
What is parent preference?
The preferences from one parent to the other are not personal but survival-based. Their need for care and connection is essential. Babies are protecting and preferring their relationship with their mom because it’s what they are familiar with.
Studies show that, from the womb, babies respond to their own mom’s voice differently than they do to other voices. Their heartbeats accelerate, showing they’re more attentive, more alert, more in tune with the sound of mom.
If baby only wants mom, is this permanent? When is it going to end?
Relax, it’s just a phase, don’t take it personally. Most toddlers around 18 months to 2 years old go through a series of cognitive development that makes them realize that they are separate from mom and dad and that they too can make their own opinions and decisions.
Choosing who they want to do what is a test and display of that newfound ability. Mom will not be your baby’s favorite parent permanently. Never stop doing things for them just because they refuse to do it with you now; they will come around.
Our babies are going through lots of learning and changes, they literally develop every single day. So choosing mom to put them to bed shouldn’t be a surprise as they provide comfort and the feeling of security.
Like you and me, babies would want to end their day as relaxed as possible, which means choosing mom for bedtime. But moms need breaks too, taking turns with your partner would mean some time for yourself.
Both parents should have a special bond with their babies. At the end of the day, your goal is to make sure they get what’s best for them and what works for you.
I hope this article helped you in any way; feel free to share your stories in the comment section below. We are looking forward to learning more about this topic.
We at 1happykiddo want you to know that if you are doing the best that you can, then you are doing perfectly fine. Stay healthy and happy.