18 answers

Why Does Baby Cry with Dad?

I am a first-time mom to an almost three month old boy. I am home full-time and loving it. I am married to a wonderful man who is a father for the second time around. Initially after Braydon was born my husband, being the source calmness that he is, would be the one I could rely on to take the screaming baby. Now that Braydon and I have this incredible bond (I really thought I'd be working again but can't imagine leaving him) I am very concerned I won't be able to depend on others to watch him and relieve me of some of the mommying responsibility at times when I elect to take it or an unfortunate time I may not be able to do it. Mainly, I am wondering why my loving husband who already has experience with babies, tries to relieve me of the duty and all that he gets in response is a screaming baby. I even end up questioning what my husband did to "get the baby so upset." All of this of course puts tension on our relationship and instead of allowing me to trust that everything would be OK if I were gone, I am even more afraid to leave the baby with anyone. Is there anyone out there that can shed some light on ways to offer advice to husbands on how better to do it or am I just being over protective and a typical first time mom that needs to let it go and let her baby cry it out a little?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you to those who responded to my inquiry - why baby cries with dad. Not only did I learn it's totally normal but there were so many other tips & affirmations that helped me have a better approach to both baby and husband. As a first time mom I need to chill out a bit, take my precious baby off his pedastal I've put him on (very rightfully so) and keep my relationship and communication with my husband a top priority. This week has been marvelous once I've let dad and baby do their thing and without the responses, I would probably still be an overly anxious mom and wife!

More Answers

Hi A.,
Something my grandmother (who had 7 children) told me when my oldest daughter was born, was that dads may have a completely different way of dealing with babies and children, but it is critical that they are allowed to parent their children in their own way. She told me that when my husband was holding our baby and I saw him doing something that I wouldn't do, to just SHUT MY MOUTH and go do something else. This was some of the best advice I ever got! Because it's true, he would hold her in a different way than I would, and my first instinct would be to tell him, "Don't do it that way, do it this way!" - but I didn't. I just let him figure it out. He was the one who figured out that during her fussy time of night, the best way to quiet her down was to hold her face down over his arm. I'd never have figured that out!

So my point is, back off (as hard as that is) and let your husband be a dad. It's ok if the baby cries; dad is a new person to your son because you're the one who is with the baby all day long. With time your husband will bond with the baby and they will develop their own special relationship. You just have to let them. Once your baby realizes that sometimes dad is going to hold him and that's perfectly ok, he'll relax and learn to enjoy his time with dad so you can have some time to yourself. It's critical that you have a little time off every day, too.

Good luck and enjoy your little one!

3 moms found this helpful

Your baby is just used to you and how you handle him, so he knows who he prefers and knows how to get his way! If you let him cry it out and just let your husband take care of him, he has no choice and will just deal with it. Soon, he will get used to your husband and not cry as much when you're not there. I have a sensitive baby girl (now 17 months) and she used to only prefer me, but sometimes I need a break. I let her know she's in good hands with daddy despite her crying and then I leave. After a little while, she's fine. Now, I can leave her with him while I go out or relax after a hard day. So if you want the option of having someone else take over, let him get used to your husband and how he does things. Don't let your baby get in between you guys. Make sure you make up in front of your baby, so he knows all is well in his world. Otherwise, he might become insecure. Parents should kiss each other in front of their kids to reassure them that mom and dad love each other. It's very important to your kids and for yourselves. Good luck and I hope your husband can care for your baby while you relax and take a load off! ;)

2 moms found this helpful

Don't question or criticize your husband's parenting unless you want to create marital issues. That is a common mistake many or most mothers make. (I made it.) Dads often feel left out of this stage of parenting. It is VERY COMMON for babies to prefer mommy, and it doesn't mean dad is doing anything wrong. Dads usually find a lot more in common with kids after the toddler stage.

(Example: I was in a restaurant the other day and observing a mom and grandma and a probably 4 month old baby. The baby beamed and cooed and was the cutest thing on earth -- until grandma tried to hold him. Then he'd cry nonstop until grandma handed him back to mommy. Then he was instantly all smiles again. I could see this mom wasn't going to get much of a break for a while.)

And why are you concerned you won't be able to "depend on others?" Just because your baby prefers you doesn't mean that other people are not competent. If you ever want to get a break you'd better learn to let other people take the baby.

I think you are being overprotective, which is fairly normal, but that doesn't mean I think infants should cry it out too much, either. Sometimes moms just don't get much of a break in that first year.

But don't criticize your husband!!!! You can cause YEARS of marital problems by starting out that way.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi A. -

Your son is completely normal - in fact, I don't know of very many babies who don't prefer mom over dad at this age - and if you exclusively nurse him, this will be more pronounced for a while.
There is nothing wrong with your husband, or this very common situation, and kudos to your husband for stepping up to take care of him-! It is more important for you to have confidence in and support your husband in his efforts than it is to try to keep your baby from becoming upset - I know that is hard to do at times, but it is necessary for healthy relationships all around. Healthy for you, healthy for your husband and healthy for your baby.
If your baby is crying and a loving husband is taking care of him, don't always run to the rescue - this subconsciously tells your husband you don't trust him, and that he can't take care of his child. Leave the room or house if necessary, and trust your husband. Your baby will be FINE. If/when your husband has had enough, or you return, he will let you know how much he wants to do.

The best thing to do when your husband is taking care of the baby is to leave the house or the room - if your son knows your are there, he will cry to get your attention - If you are not there, your son can start to build trust with his father -

And just realize in 2 or 3 years, he will want daddy over you- this is also normal-!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I experienced the same thing with my husband, who practically raised 4 siblings and had great "skills" with babies. But after spending all day with me, both my children would cry when Daddy came home to hold them. What we realized was that they became "familiar" with a woman's touch and the sound of a female's voice. Soon, this subsided and the children realized that big hands and deep voices were not so scary after all. Enjoy the time that you have while your child is still "Mommy's baby" because soon your son will realize that Daddy is really just a BIG kid and he is a lot of fun to hang out with!

1 mom found this helpful

Like you said, you and your baby have a strong bond. Your son and husband need to spend time together to get used to each other. Also your son may be picking up on your nervous vibes. Plan an evening out for yourself, (shopping, coffee shop, walk in the park, whatever you feel like doing). When it is time to go give your husband and son a kiss. Hand the kid over and walk immediately out the door. It may be tough to do at first but the whole family will be better for it. Your husband and son will get some special bonding time and you get a break from the baby and a moment of quiet. As the months continue on, you will need it. Getting along with others takes practice. You are not helping your son by smothering him. Tears won't cause him to melt or anything. Your husband also needs to remember to not take it personal. My son cried everytime I left him until he was about a yer old. Then he would cry only until I was out of sight.

1 mom found this helpful

My first daughter would cry when I left her with dad, sometimes he could just look at her and she would cry. Fortunatley he didn't take it personal and because sometimes the two of them had to work it out they developed their own special way of doing things. It's a great gift for a father to be sucssful in soothing his baby and it builds their relationship.I would just try not to leave for to long at a time. I know sometimes i'd come home and he'd hand me a screaming baby and he'd had enough. I think babies need to know we trust dad and that he's a safe person too. So give them the time to just be the two of them and refreash yourself even if it's just a walk. It's most certainly not anything he's doing. You can play the pass back game where the baby goes back and forth between the two of you. Fly like an airplane to dad with happy voices and smiles and then dad flies baby back to mom. Your baby will catch on that it's safe and fun to be with mom and dad.Play hide and seek together . Mommy and baby look for daddy around the corner and are happy to find him then pass baby so daddy and baby find mommy. I think these are games that help. They did us. Have fun, R.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear A.,
I understand how you are feeling. But you shouldn't be worried about leaving your baby with anyone, especially your husband, because the baby cries. Everyone smells different than you, their voices are different. Their touch is different. Right now, for many reasons, mommy is the center of their universe. But, it's a big world full of people that will love them and care for them. And they need to be exposed to that.

My nephew and his wife had a baby after trying for 14 years. She was perfectly healthy, but mom made it clear no one was to come over to visit and she did not want to expose the baby to any other people. Including Grandmas and Grandpas. It's perhaps understandable for the first couple of weeks, but this went on a long time. I think my sister finally had a talk with her after several holidays or family celebrations went by with them not included.
She brought the baby and of course she cried. She was in a different environment. She was all the sudden around people she had never seen. And if someone wanted to hold her or touch her, she cried.
Long story short, Mommy got the idea and the "quarantine' was lifted. Now that little girl is the absolute star of the show when she comes. She is outgoing...greets everyone, will let everyone hold her....and....she gives good bye kisses for everybody too.
Your baby may cry or fuss while with Daddy or someone else, but he will figure out that it's fine. The more dad and other people interact with him, the more he will be able to become a happily social little boy.
Just don't stress.
Everytime your baby cries, it does not mean someone is pinching them. lol
Relax...and I bet your baby will too.

Best of wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.. I can relate as I'm sure many others can too. Our son just turned 18 months and well, indeed prefers his mama. I think this is very common between mother and baby let alone whoever is the primary caregiver.

My husband was deployed to Iraq the first 7 months of our son's life and well, that left pretty much me and our son. We indeed have a strong bond between mother and son. Infants know the sound of their parents voice let alone their mother's heartbeat after 9 months in the womb so oftentimes, this is a preference for comfort.

With that said, yes, we must allow our husband's to be fathers. We can give tidbits of advice regarding what seems to work or not, yet fathers must be given the opportunity to bond and be a parent...and children too must learn to be with others; otherwise, you will indeed have no time to yourself.

It took our family some time due to special circumstance, yet our son is now comfortable with daddy, grandparents, and even sitters on occasion. And just when you think your child is comfortable in your absence, object permanence or separation anxiety kicks in and well, tears will be shed. However, children learn to adapt with exposure and experience. Just be sure to always explain to your son when transitions are to occur and that he is in good hands and that you will return. Remember, receptive language develops before expressive; therefore, children begin to learn and understand well before they can express...so reassurance is indeed a critical element in guiding children to learn about their world and feel safe let alone build trusting relationships with others. Trusting others with our children is indeed a process and well, takes time for the entire family to learn just HOW to be a family. Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

Like all the other moms that have replied, I too had this issue. While my husband said he understood it was because of our bond, I could see the hurt in his eyes. And that hurt me.

Make sure you set them up for success. Pass the baby along when he's in a great mood! And come back while they are still having fun!

Give them a task to do together. I found I did everything: feeding, sleeping, bath time, loading in and out of the car seat all the way to pushing the stroller! I had (without meaning to of course) almost excluded my husband from doing any care giving... no good.

My little guy has always loved to take a bath. So, I transfered that duty to daddy and left the room so they could focus on each other. It really worked wonders. They learned to trust each other and have FUN. I'm amazed that such a little thing can make such a big difference.

Try to remember the baby isn't crying because your husband did anything wrong (I know it's hard to calm him back down so an immediate reaction is "great, what did you do!"). That little baby loves you and is so bonded with you with that he doesn't want you to step away. It's nice to be so loved but mamas need breaks! And they WILL eventually figure it out. What works for you may not work for him and what works for him may not work for you.

Hang in there!

another mom mentioned that baby usually stops crying when you are out of sight. That is SOO true. And if you leave all together, I think they will will feel a little less "watched". Just saying...

1 mom found this helpful

While alot of dad's aren't in the picture or don't help out as much as yours is trying too, you need to relax and let him help you. If you constantly take baby from your husband he will never get the chance to bond with him. You are home all day long and this is normal for him to bond with you quicker. Let your husband do other bonding things, i.e give the baby his bath in the evening. If your BF pump a bottle of milk for him to offer baby. You need to offer more chances for them to bond instead of taking the baby from him every time he cries. Their is nothing wrong with letting the baby cry alittle. Your husband is there and willing to help, so let him

1 mom found this helpful

Kids are fussy. There will be times when you are dirt and dad is god. kids go through phases of what they need emotionally from each parent. Be careful of accusing your hubby of doing something wrong or all work will be on your lap. Its totally normal. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Dear A.-

My eight month old daughter was the same way. She loved dad at first then screamed at him forever. It really stressed me out because I couldn't leave her with him or she'd cry. But she grew out of it, I know how hard it is and feel for you but remember it will pass. Your little guy is used to you all day! When dad comes home his whole day changes, your mood changes, happy to see your husband, and your stepson excited to see dad, Im sure that just amps him up and he sences the changes. Don't worry, when you hand him off take a deep breath and take a break you know he will be fine dad can handle it!

I've been in almost the exact situation - however my husband has 2 from an earlier marriage.

What I had to realize is that he has a different parenting style than I do! And that's OK. You spend the majority of the time with your new baby - which limits his time on "finding" out how HE wants to set the pace as he parents. My advice is to NOT advise! This will bring more tension. What you might do is ask how he's doing with ??? (a very specific aspect). This isn't a quiz! It's a time to SHARE what you've found helpful and SUGGEST that it could be helpful to him if he finds it to be part of HIS parenting style.

Don't push and stop feeling like you need to check in and up on him all the time. Remember it took you time - on almost a 24/7 basis to figure it out - give your husband that same chance!

Our daughter is now 4 1/2 and just had her first camping experience with Dad out in our backyard! LAST night! Paige loves her dad and their play is very different than our play! And that's OK!

Something that I would additionally recommend is taking a Baby and Me class and have Dad go to 1/2 or both of you attend if that's possible. Places like The Little Gym, or a Yoga Class. I actually teach American Sign Language classes for Parents and Infants. These kind of things actually allow togetherness that is lead by someone else so the tension is not focused on each other!

Hope that helps
K. B

Don't feel bad about the baby crying with your husband. Most babies go through the same thing. I have two girls and I remember feeling the same way you are. You have to trust your husbad and allow him to comfort your baby and let them go through this together. Before you know it this problem will be gone. Then you will also notice at certain ages it may happen again, just not as bad. Some people call it sepperation anxiety. Hope things get better soon and good luck!!!

mother of two awsome girls 7years and 11months old

It seems to be more with boys than girls. It is not your hubby's fault at all so you need to stop blaming him unfairly because that is making it worse.
My son wanted nothing to do with Daddy or Grandpa until he was mobile then he switched to rejecting Grandma (which hurt her a lot) and only wanting me when he was tired, sick or hurt, or poopy and ADORING Grandpa and Daddy. Your hubby doesn't have BOOBS and that is all a 3 month old wants is FOOD.
I went back to work Weds. - Sundays when my son was almost 11 months old and my husband watched him on the weekends. We anticipated crying, anxiety etc. and I eneded up being the only one that had any of that!!! Ian whimpered when I walked out the door without him but calmed down immediately and was a good boy all day. Soon after he started being attracted to clothes that looked like my husband's and toy "Daddy" items like car keys, laptop and cell phone and hubby's old wallet.
He is still a Mama's boy - but adores his daddy too.

One of the biggest mistakes people and Dads often make with babies is that they fail to read the signs when they get overstimulated. My husband had such trouble with my infant until a wonderful lady clued him in. When you are playing with an infant and they look away from you, it means they are overstimulated or tired. You have to respect that and back off, let them rest, and then look back into your eyes before you resume talking to them. If you keep playing with them they will overload and cry. Sneezing, pooping, and even completed shutting down and sleeping can also be a response to overstimulation. Once my husband learned this, and practices it for while, it made all the difference. He didn't think the baby liked him before that. Hope this helps!

Hi A.. Your baby is totally normal!! The baby knows you better than anyone else .. he was in your womb and you probably primarily feed him. Both my kids did the same thing! My son actually didn't really want to have anything to do w/ my husband until my daughter was born when he was about to turn 2!! It all depends on the child and I think a lot of it has to do with the child's confidence. My kids have great relationships with my husband, now they always want their Dad. Just give it a little time and one thing you might want to suggest to your husband is to feed your son and cuddle with him or if he doesn't have a whole lot of time just spend a couple of minutes everyday to get in special time. I noticed w/ my kids is that when my husband started showing consistent attention to each one of them they warmed up to him more...it was hard because my husband had to work out of town M-F and was only home on the weekend for about 6 mos. when our second was born!! --Just stick in there.. it gets better.. a lot of it is you're adjusting to parenthood! Good luck!

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