Babies are extremely responsive to their sense of security. Because most fathers are not part of their child’s daily routine that involves feeding, diaper changing, and soothing, the little ones do not relate dad to that purpose. This is a phase that most babies go through, and the more fathers are involved, the shorten this phase will be.
Babies develop a bond with their mother that can be pretty unshakeable, and rejected dads can testify to this fact.
Babies are dependent on mom, their life-giver, an item like a pacifier, but they do exercise an independent streak when it comes to who is allowed to hold and cuddle them. Here, some dads are excluded, sometimes without any rational reason.
Most babies have a preferred parent who spends the most time with them, and this bond will represent their sanctuary or safe haven.
It’s natural and normal for mom to be granted the master key to her little one’s private space, but as she grows in confidence, life becomes more normal, and dad is let in too.
What should dads do?
Babies don’t automatically know who their parents are, and they need a little time to learn the basics of life.
Dads need to realize that their little one crying when in their arms is just a phase that passes fairly quickly. They cry around dad because they are not familiar with his voice, rough touch, and manly smell. It’s the opposite of what they are accustomed to with mom.
Fathers need to keep making contact with their babies. To begin with, while mom is holding the baby, you can hover around, hold your little one’s hand and speak softly or hum a tune.
Stroke your little one’s cheeks and make eye contact. Let your baby pull at your face while you make funny sounds.
Other things dad can do:
- Help with diaper changes and swaddling.
- If you are breastfeeding, use a breast pump so dad can feed your little one as well. Your baby will soon pick up that dad is also a caregiver.
- Dad should try and be with mom during playtimes so your baby can interact with him in a fun way. At nap times, dad should help settle the baby down and make sure your baby is comfortable.
- Dad could sleep with a baby blanket, so the little one gets used to his smell.
- If your beard is too prickly, consider shaving to get rid of the stubbles.
All these small efforts will take time, but the one thing dads must never do is give up. It will all come together in the end.
My husband freaks out the moment our baby starts crying, and I don’t know what to do about it?
Most new dads don’t know how to soothe a baby, and it’s more than likely not able to read the cues of your baby’s cries that get him worked up. Instead, involve him in caring for the baby and teach him the tricks of the trade.
Once he knows and understands what’s making your little cry, he will put his newfound skills to good use and tend to the baby. He has to accept that crying is part of how babies communicate before they can speak.
I have a patient and loving husband; will tough love with our little one help create a bond between them because our baby screams when dad gets too close?
Tough love works, but you have to keep control of your own emotions in the process. Babies are fast learners, and as soon as they realize that dad is a caregiver just like mom, they will accept being in his company.
Try a more subtle approach first and only try tough love if you really have to. It can be a traumatic experience for your little one that may play out later in life. Chat to your pediatrician about tough love and understand how it might impact your little one.
What’s an easy way to introduce dad to baby?
As parents, you can try this exercise: Mom and dad should stand facing each other while mom holds the baby in her arms, and you then gently switch the baby into dad’s arms. Stay in that position for a while, with both of you fussing over your little one.
Mom can then take a step back and play pick-a boo which will help work on your little one’s concept of permanence. As a dad, the more time spent with your little one, the more familiar you will become to your baby and the more accepting your little one will be of you.
A baby has to get used to dad just like they had to get used to mom. It’s all about dad becoming a familiar part of a baby’s life.
Crying when dad comes close is a natural phase that many babies go through, but it can be a very short phase depending on the bonding efforts that both mom and dad put in.
Fathers just need some patience and must stay involved in their little one’s life.