When a baby cries with dad, it’s not the end of the world.
In fact, it’s perfectly normal.
Babies seek warmth, comfort and safety.
Like moms, dads can technically provide the same things, but sometimes, for some reason, they start crying as soon as they pick the baby up to hold them. Obviously, that raises a lot of questions. On top of that, we know that it can feel rather discouraging for the father.
Understanding why this happens is key.
Before you enter panic mode, remember that every baby is different.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of time. However, with a bit of patience and practice, this whole problem goes away. Keep in mind that it’s pretty common for babies to prefer closeness with their mothers, rather than fathers or anyone else who may try to hold them.
That’s a biological factor as old as humanity itself.
Nevertheless, there’s still much you can do to help the father form a deep and gentle bond with their baby. First of all, however, you have to understand why it happens.
Why Do Babies Cry When Dads Hold Them?
Bonding can happen instantly, but sometimes it takes time, especially for dads.
When a baby is born, their first sense of safety and familiarity comes from their mother. Dads, in fact, have a fair bit of catching up to do, since a mother’s bonding begins as soon as they learn that they’re pregnant. A pregnant woman bonds with her baby bump.
Pheromones play an important role, too.
As such, it’s perfectly normal for a baby to prefer their mother’s embrace.
Understanding that there’s a scientific reason why this happens helps the dad not take it personally. It’s biology, but it’s also perfectly fixable, so to speak. There’s nothing wrong with the baby, nor the father, but it can take some time for a connection to form.
Luckily, dads get to start their own bonding journey right from the start.
For some babies, it can take days, while sometimes it may even take months. Be patient. Everything is new and scary to your precious little baby, but also exciting. With a little bit of work, effort and dedication, any dad can build a strong bond with their baby.
Things Dads Can Do to Bond With Their Baby
The trick here lies not in stopping crying.
Babies cry for a good reason. It’s how they communicate. You may try to distract them or perhaps outsmart them, but that doesn’t solve the underlying issue. So, what exactly is the underlying issue? A baby needs to bond with their dad. Only that way the crying can stop.
Only that way do you tackle the problem head on.
Don’t feel helpless, because we’re here to help you.
For parents in a rush, here’s a brief rundown:
- Get Involved in Breastfeeding
- Skin to Skin Contact With Dad
- Baby and Dad Alone Time
- Try Working With Scents
- Changing Diapers
- Reading to the Baby
- Try Wearing Your Baby
- Washing and Bathing the Baby
- Finally, Be Patient and Don’t Give Up
There’s a lot of things that you can do, and should do, to ensure that the baby no longer cries in dad’s arms. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and get ready as we go down the list.
1. Get Involved in Breastfeeding
Mothers usually get the hang of breastfeeding after a few weeks.
Breastfeeding obviously helps the mother bond with the baby, but the father can participate, too. For example, just being present during these special moments means a lot. Placing a gentle, supportive hand on the baby when they’re drinking goes a long way.
By doing so, the baby starts to associate the goodness of a full belly with both parents.
When you introduce a baby bottle, dads should feed the baby at times, as well. If the baby’s still crying when dad’s holding them, it’s perfectly fine for the mother to hold them, while the father holds the baby bottle, which creates a healthy bonding experience.
Additionally, when the baby starts eating solids, it gets even easier.
Make sure to feed the baby with a smile and to radiate positive energy.
2. Skin to Skin Contact With Dad
Skin to skin contact feels great for babies.
Whenever babies cry, a mother’s embrace, especially if it’s skin to skin, usually calms them down. At this age, there’s nothing more important to your baby than safety. Their entire sense of safety and comfort comes from physical closeness with mom and dad.
But, if your baby cries when dad holds her, how exactly can you do skin to skin contact? Well, dad doesn’t have to hold the baby just yet. While the mother holds the baby, create enough room for the father to get involved. Make sure to observe the baby’s reactions.
Little by little, work to move the baby from mom’s to dad’s embrace.
Since dads usually have rougher skin and more hair, it goes without saying that you have to be extra gentle. To your child, your skin feels different, so it may take some time until they get used to it. You have to be patient and willing to practice literally inch by inch.
With enough time, your baby’s going to feel perfectly safe in dad’s arms.
3. Baby and Dad Alone Time
If your baby cries with dad, the thought of giving the father some alone time with the baby may seem counter-productive. However, it’s important that you start practicing this as parents, because the mother won’t always be around. Everyone needs a break.
We advise starting small, step by step.
Mom doesn’t have to leave the room right way. To start things off, both parents can be present. Little by little, the mother creates distance while the father remains still. During all of this, the father attempts to comfort the baby with words and gentle touch.
Even if your baby cries when the mother exits the room, that’s perfectly fine, too. It’s going to take some time until the baby learns that it’s completely safe without their mother an inch away. So, expect tears, but make sure to remain committed and consistent.
Babies cry for many reasons. So, it’s not just when dad holds her. It’s not only natural, but necessary for them to confront their uneasiness in a safe and healthy environment.
4. Try Working With Scents
It’s established that a baby feels safe with its mother because of the scent.
The father, therefore, can use mom’s scent to start the bonding process.
For example, a piece of mom’s clothing can be enough to make the baby feel warm and safe. Ideally, if this works, eventually you want the father to introduce his own scent, as well, in order to help the father create a strong and genuine bond with the baby.
Is this going to magically stop babies from crying? Probably not. As you’re bound to notice, your baby’s going to cry a lot. So, it’s not only a matter of the baby crying with dad or when he holds her, but a matter of your baby communicating with you.
However, using scent helps the father deepen their bond with their child.
5. Changing Diapers
It’s a messy job, but someone’s got to do it.
In an ideal world, both parents contribute equally.
Even though the mother, as it would seem, often seems to respond first, it’s important that the father pulls his own weight when it comes to the smelly world of diaper-changing. Keep in mind that this little task means a lot to the baby when it comes to bonding.
Babies can cry not only when dad holds them, but when dad decides to change the diapers, too. In that case, we advise doing it together at first. As with all guidance given thus far, we always advise starting small, safely and making sure that the baby’s comfortable.
Every baby is different, after all. Nevertheless, by making sure that dad becomes a part of the baby’s everyday routine, parents ensure quality bonding time for everyone. Yes, it can get a little bit difficult and hectic at times, but what matters above all is consistency.
That’s how you stay on top of things.
6. Reading to the Baby
Reading to the baby cultivates trust and connection.
Although your baby isn’t going to understand the plot, what they do understand and respond to is the sound of your voice. While reading, try to immerse yourself in the role of a storyteller, reading fluidly and rhythmically rather than helping your baby fall asleep.
After all, you want to engage healthy interaction.
When the baby starts feeling relaxed and comfortable, that’s when you should pick her up and hold her. If the baby cries with dad during story time, then try with both parents present at the same time. Be patient as you build a strong connection with your baby.
Not to mention, reading cultivates the baby’s language development and communication.
Regardless of crying, it’s something that you should practice often for its benefits.
7. Try Wearing Your Baby
With a baby carrier, a sling or a wrap, parents get to enjoy baby wearing.
First of all, it’s important that you go through all the safety tips.
Keep in mind that this is another new for your child. As such, you may want the mother to get the hang of it first, and then gradually shift to dad, so that he can enjoy baby wearing, too. Some babies, however, don’t like being carried around, so it may take some time.
If your baby starts to cry when dad holds her or carries her, consider the cause of crying. Maybe they’re hungry or maybe they just want to sleep. Keep the sessions short, too. A few minutes of carrying and holding, despite the crying, helps your baby adjust.
8. Mind the Facial Hair
As your baby starts piecing the world together, changes confuse them.
So, if dad decides to suddenly grow or shave a beard, it can, in fact, scare and confuse the baby. As such, for the time being, we advise keeping the same facial hair. However, if dad does decide to go for something different, be prepared for your baby’s confusion.
The more often dad changes his appearance, the more it confuses the baby.
In this regard, your child needs consistency in order to bond.
9. Washing and Bathing the Baby
Babies don’t get dirty, but some babies really love bath time.
If your baby likes getting washed, cleaned and bathed, then bath time is an ideal opportunity for dad to bond with the baby. Whether you’re bathing your newborn or taking a shower with your baby, it’s fun, fulfilling and meaningful for everyone involved.
If the baby cries when dad holds her, perhaps some water may calm her.
So, getting in the shower with the baby may solve your problem.
Ideally, you want both parents present to ensure the baby’s safety.
Not to mention that you should read up on how, when and how often babies need showers in the first place before deciding to do so. Ensure that you have everything you need within reach, so that you never leave the baby unattended and focus on bath time.
10. Finally, Be Patient and Don’t Give Up
We know how frustrating it can be when the baby cries with dad.
One moment the child is perfectly happy and comfy in mom’s embrace, but when dad picks her up, she bursts into tears. It’s hard not to take it personally, but you have to remind yourself that there’s a scientific explanation behind this frustrating phenomenon.
Try to remember why it happens, and keep helping dad to make a strong bond with the baby. Yes, it’s going to take some time, but you have all the time in the world. Eventually, the baby’s going to form a connection with the father, but patience is needed.
With the tips provided above, there’s so much you can do to make this problem go away.
Know that you’re not alone and keep trying.
Many parents face this exact dilemma, and not just with fathers, but with strangers and family, too. With enough time and effort, the baby inevitably forms a beautiful bond with the father, as well as other people who are important in some way in their life.
So, What’s the Bottom Line?
When your baby cries with dad, especially when dad holds her, it’s a matter of bonding.
It’s perfectly all right for a father not to feel an immediate connection to their child, much the same as it’s perfectly natural for babies not to feel bonded with their fathers right from the start. Nevertheless, creating that beautiful bond is an invaluable experience.
With the tips provided above, you have all the resources necessary to make it happen.
All that’s left is for you to tackle the obstacle head on and to stay positive.
As partners for life, encourage each other. Help each other. Because the mother’s bond with the baby is so strong, fathers often feel as if they should step aside and just observe.
However, every dad can experience the magic of parenthood just as intensely.
Remember that, and the feeling of frustration will pass.
From sharing feeding duties to trying different times, there’s a whole world of options for dads to explore if their baby cries in their arms. So, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, you should only worry about trying to stay calm, optimistic and patient.
Your baby loves you, but the world is still confusing and scary.
Sometimes, your baby won’t respond when dad tries to console her. In fact, it may even worsen their crying. Remind yourself that it’s natural. These tips can help and will help, but it’s going to take time. So, give it time. There are other ways for dads to participate.
Support the mom in the meantime. Be present. Communicate.
Rest assured that, with time and effort, everything will fall into place.
Mother of three and a primary school teacher. I’ve always loved being around children and helping them, so I chose my path as a teacher. It is sometimes hectic with three children, but I am 100 percent into it and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.