Do you feel like your baby is happy with everyone else but not with you? Does your little one prefer his or her other parent then you? Are you here to validate your observation, or is it just all in your head? Don’t worry, I get it. You are not alone in feeling this way. Do you know that as per studies, roughly 20% of parents don’t feel an immediate emotional bond with their newborn baby? Yes.
My son used to call me all the time when he was younger. He would say “mom” or “mommy” all the time! Then I noticed that at around his first year, I don’t hear it anymore. He calls his dad now, and he looks at him for validation; they play “more fun” games, I suppose. My son would laugh the hardest when he plays with his dad.
I was researching it when suddenly something heavy fell to the ground, which caused a loud noise, we were all in the living room, and my baby rushed to me for comfort and to feel safe, not to his dad. It was at that moment I realized how my son is starting to be his own person. How he now knows I will always be here regardless if he calls me or not.
There are many possible reasons why your baby would seem distant, uninterested, or overall more excited to see other people than you. In my case, it’s the novelty of his dad’s attention and time. For other babies, it’s the excitement of something or someone new. Let’s break down some of the common factors, shall we?
Possible reasons why your baby may not like you
First of all, let’s be clear about your baby “not” liking you, they do. Even if you don’t feel it, or they don’t express it clearly. Your little one is just not capable of thinking or feeling that way just yet. Their mental and emotional abilities at this stage of their life are still in a lot of development, they’ll come around. Hang in there.
- Curiosity – If you are the main caregiver of your baby and are with them 24/7, it is not surprising if they jump for joy and excitement whenever they get to interact with someone new or are rarely around. Don’t take it personally though, it’s mainly about their constant amazement about anything that is not common to them. New face, new voice, a new toy, new games, a new playmate with new tricks that make them laugh! Do not compete with their need to explore, as soon as you know what to expect from your little one by their age, the sooner you’ll realize that it’s normal and that it will get better in time.
- Choices – Our babies are starting to grasp the concept of having a choice, and just like adults, they do have preferences. One possible reason why you might feel that your baby doesn’t like you is that they prefer their other parent, nothing personal. Not that they don’t want to cuddle or to play with you, they just want someone or something else. But just like any other decisions, this will eventually change too. Just keep doing what you do for them and wait until they choose you again.
- Bond – No wonder most babies are attached to their mothers in different ways, right? Dads usually have to make extra efforts and try different ways for them to create a bond with their little ones. But just like any other relationship, your bond with your babies will require consistency to work and progress. Keep looking for new activities that they might enjoy. If they used to have fun with tummy time with you, one day they might lose interest in that and will not want to do it, but that’s not because of you. Again, it’s nothing personal, they outgrow tummy time, that’s all.
- Personality – Gesell Institute of Human Development research has shown that children from 1-3 years of age go through times of “equilibrium” and “disequilibrium.” Equilibrium is when they are at peace with themselves and the world, a period of stability and consolidated behavior, wherein disequilibrium is a period of struggle and breaking downs, unsettled, uneven behavior. Remember that your baby is going through a lot of development and that it could get confusing for them sometimes. To put it into summary, you are not doing anything wrong if they don’t look thrilled when you enter the room, it’s not you, it’s them.
How to form a bond with your baby
I think most parents expect their babies to automatically like or love them simply because, why would they not? We are after all their main team, right? For mothers, it usually feels effortless to bond with their babies given that they used to be in a single body and mom felt how life unfolds for her little ones. But what if this is no the case? How do you form a bond with someone who is still learning, basically everything? Let me list down some simple yet effective ways to bond with your little human.
- Reading time – The benefits of reading will amaze you, you can start reading to your babies as early as possible. It will help with brain development, imagination, language, emotion, and most of all, it strengthens relationships. Read your little one a book even if they still don’t understand what the story or the book is all about yet, even if they don’t look interested in what you are reading, make it a habit, include reading to your daily routine. The best part is, it doesn’t need to be a long story. The book doesn’t need to be a bulky one, all we want to achieve is for your baby to know that you are that parent who sits down and talks a lot of nonsense and shows colorful images that are pleasing to look at.
- Let them laugh – Find out what amuses them, observe their interests, how they want to spend playtime, even if it makes you look silly and might break your back after. If they want you to repeat dancing to the tune of his favorite nursery rhyme for the nth time, so be it! Seriously though, we want to form a bond between you and your baby that he/she will enjoy. This is not about you, it’s all about them, we want our babies to want our presence because we made them felt happy and good.
- Skin-to-skin contact – It’s basically the first bonding of a baby and the mother after giving birth, why is it? It has been proven to help both the baby and mother in many ways. It helps the baby to adjust to life outside the womb and helps mothers to initiate breastfeeding for their baby, it also calms and relaxes both mother and baby. When the baby hears his mom or even his dad’s heartbeat, it makes them feel safe and cozy, just like when they are still in their mother’s womb. This should not stop anytime soon after birth, skin-to-skin contact can be in the form of giving your baby a bath, tummy time on your chest, rocking them to sleep. Whatever makes your baby comfortable doing with you, grab that chance and do it.
- Undivided attention – Don’t be just physically present, that parent who is there but is fully unaware of what their child is doing. Remember that your baby knows only what he/she wants and needs by this age and would still not be able to understand that you have to attend to other important stuff. All they know right now is that you will attend to their wants and needs if you are with them.
At the end of the day, no one knows your baby best but you. Just like any relationship, it will take work, consistency, patience, and effort but most importantly, love. The love that you have for your baby will be your driving force to always make it better for them. It may not be always fun for you but understanding that your little one is a work in progress just like everyone else and that setting what to expect from them at certain age is the key to know them better.
For signs that your baby’s behavior or response might be something more serious, never hesitate to reach out to your doctor to get the best possible advice. I hope this article helped you in any way. Feel free to share your own experience with your dear ones in the comment section below, always stay healthy and happy!