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What To Do When Baby Only Wants Mom or Prefers Dad

Having a newborn is one of the most important times for your family as a whole. It’s undoubtedly an incredible time, but it can also feel strange and awkward at times too. There’s a lot going on in the home when you have a baby. You’re literally getting to know a brand new person and everything that they need and desire, or, on the other end of the spectrum, everything that they don’t like too. All of your baby’s messages are all being relayed to you through each of the subtle, or, not-so-subtle messages that they give you.

At times, you have to listen closely to understand what they mean, while other times your baby is much more obvious about the way they feel. Regardless, your role as a mom or a dad, is to show how much you care about what your baby is saying to you.

If your little one is telling you they only want the other parent, it can be disheartening to be rejected by your baby, despite showing up as a good parent. It can feel a little strange if your baby is only satisfied with your partner, especially because you love to spend time with your child too.

So, when your baby says they don’t want you or in-turn they only want you, it can be tricky to navigate and sometimes exhausting… Do you give your baby what they want during a ‘mommy-only’ or ‘daddy-only’ phase? And if not, how do you navigate these various phases in ways that everyone feels included, and happy in the end? Let’s go over what other parents have done in these situations to bring back a sense of balance for everyone involved.

In this article

Babies need Bonding Time With Both Parents Whenever Possible

Some babies are fortunate to have two loving parents in their household, which is optimal for the long-term mental health of every child.

It’s been proven over-and-over again that children need love around them, so having endless love from two parents is a true gift for every baby. Babies feel what’s going on around them, and they sense the energy emulated toward them from each of their parents – even at very young ages.

Before a baby is able to speak words, they let their parents know how they feel through various noises, coos, or even physical movement.

Interpreting these messages the best you can, is your job as a parent.  It won’t always be simple to decipher what your little one is meaning, but that’s why resiliency is a parent’s greatest super-power!

mom and dad with baby

Spending time with your baby is essential, even when your baby doesn’t want to be around you. Your baby not wanting to be held by you has the potential to hurt your feelings if you’re the parent they’ve been shying away from – but you still need to form a plan to get you through these phases proactively.

On the other hand, it can be exhausting to be the parent the baby is constantly asking for while also soaking up the endless love they have to offer you. The greatest balance for a family overall happens when your baby can bond with mom and dad simultaneously. 

What should everyone do if baby only wants to be with mom?

Mothers get the most contact with their babies right out of the womb. This is due to breastfeeding and having carried their baby for the last 9-months. Usually, a baby will feel the most comfortable with their mother for the first 1-2 months after birth. During this phase, it’s normal for a baby to have a lot more ‘mom time’ than ‘dad time’.

Infancy is an amazing time to strengthen the bond between a mother and her baby – which should be supported by the entire family. Don’t worry a lot more time with dad will happen around 2-months-old and beyond.

But what happens if your baby becomes a bit older and only wants to be with mom all the time. This might feel discouraging for the dad, who’s trying to be just as involved in the child’s life too.

Aside from discouraging dad, a baby not wanting to be around dad can also put a ton of strain on mom to have to be with her baby 24/7. Whenever a baby is in the home, it works best for the entire family to work as a team when caring for the littlest one. Here are a few things to remember when your baby only wants to be with mom.

It doesn’t mean that dad isn’t doing a good job of parenting during a ‘mamma-phase’

Babies go through all kinds of phases, and it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean dad isn’t doing a good job because the baby only wants to give mommy all the attention.

Sometimes it can feel like they aren’t doing something for dad when he gets pushed away by his baby. If this starts to happen remind your partner this is simply a phase, and it will come to an end soon enough.

Try to have your baby spend time around dad even if your baby doesn’t want to

The goal is to have your baby transition out of only wanting mommy, as quickly as possible. Which means every moment counts! When your baby is pushing away dad, have mom hold the baby in her arms while dad gives a group hug to everyone. Or, lay with your baby together, while each of you speaks to your baby from above – this will help your baby feel more comfortable with dad. Aim to help the baby make eye contact with each of you.

If dad can stick it out through the fits he gets to still be the superhero for his baby

If dad is feeling like he doesn’t get enough time with the baby, sometimes you just have to force change. Whenever your baby cries, have dad step in and come to the rescue.

dad and mom with baby

It might be loud, unsettling, and awkward for dad to know that mom could calm baby in an instant instead of dad – but having dad take the time to soothe the baby will create a better bond in the long-run.

Have dad cuddle, hold, or hang out with the baby even when there are no fits as well, to reinforce the comfortable space they are creating together. This will give your little one more time to be in the presence of dad, and gain more trust toward him.

If this is working, then eventually, when dad comes to pick his baby up during a crying fit it will become more and more smooth over time. Not only will this help relieve mom from the sense of overwhelming exhaustion that mom is feeling, but it will also give dad and baby a greater sense of relationship.

This will give dad a sense of place in this whole parenting thing again.

Plan to let mom sleep in while dad gets up with the baby

Getting up with the baby is crucial for any mother to do in the newborn phase. But as your baby gets a bit older, dad can start to get up with the baby successfully. It practically becomes second nature for a mother to wake up, feed, and change her baby in the beginning but dad should be paying attention still. Dad can use this time in the middle of the night or early mornings to his advantage, so have dad get up to bottle feed and change the baby more often. This offers a special timeframe when your baby hasn’t seen mom for a while and will be more likely to accept soothing from dad.

Fathers do just as good of a job at caring for their babies if they are dedicated. If you’re the mom who constantly does everything in this situation, try to relax so your partner can do this. Think of it as their ‘dad and baby time’ – you always get time with the baby so give yourself a break!

Have mom run some errands without baby

That’s right mom can leave the house without the baby. Even though we often forget this when raising kids, mothers are capable of getting out of the house without their baby.

As long as there is a bottle on hand for dad to offer the baby once they’re hungry, it’s no problem for mom to leave the house giving full reigns to dad.

dad bottlefeeding baby

It works out for mom and dad both – mom gets space for herself – dad gets bonding time. Mothers tend to just keep going, regardless of how tired they are.

Dad can be a supportive partner by stepping in and encouraging his partner to take time for herself. If dad can remain confident through a few hours without mom, the baby will usually pick up on this and be happy to spend alone time with dad.

While mom is out, it’s normal for babies to get upset by their mother’s absence

Your baby might get very upset when mom doesn’t come to soothe the situation but everything will be okay. Dad has to remember this when the mother is out for errands or having alone time so he doesn’t cave in and call in a rescue mission from mom.

There is no reason mom should have to come home early to support her crying baby – unless there is a medical emergency or the milk was forgotten.

In fact, if the mother rushes home to the rescue, the baby will recognize that crying louder, and longer actually works to get mom back home. This is not a good routine to set, and your baby may start using crying as a tactic to get mom to come to the rescue right after she leaves every time. Once you make a plan for mom to leave the house stick to it.

An amazing way to strengthen the bond between dad and the baby is to force alone time regularly, regardless if it upsets your baby. Your baby needs this time to begin trusting dad for comfort.

Ask yourself if it’s a good time for dad to try and comfort your baby before attempting to force ‘dad time’

At the end of the day, your baby might be exhausted – there comes a certain point of inconsolable exhaustion if your baby has skipped naptime, or is up later than usual that they start producing more adrenaline when crying. Maybe the time of the day that you are trying to have dad soothe the baby is the reason it’s just not happening as easily. If dad tends to come home late, and it’s his duty to soothe baby for the night – this might be an unintended big red flag in the routine you have planned as parents.

Try switching the times that each of you cares for your baby to suit your baby’s needs better, if possible make it so dad gets to soothe the baby before the first nap of the day when it’s easier to comfort your baby in general. Let mom take the evening shift to put the baby to sleep, since if it’s a lot more difficult for dad to comfort baby at that time.

dad and baby

Babies can only process so much stimulation in one day, just the way we do as adults. Once a baby has processed all they can, they are inconsolable until they literally fall asleep – this can be the most frustrating time to try and have dad soothing the baby when the baby already only wants mom for comfort.

Make sure that your baby is still receptive to dad’s comfort when he offers it

A big piece to mom being able to comfort baby naturally is because of her voice, and her milk. Have dad try to mimic this scenario when trying to comfort your baby. Except maybe a give your baby a bottle in place of the breast for milk if your baby is breastfed. Try to work in ‘dad-time’ when the baby is able to be receptive to hearing dad’s voice for comfort, and drinking the bottle dad has to offer. If you try to have dad give a bottle to your baby once he is crying, it’s more likely that dad’s tactics for soothing won’t work as easily.

You can also pass the baby to dad after a breastfeeding session, this tends to work well for babies who breastfeed.  Because they are in a super comfortable space already, and they will be easier to soothe since they are full and not hungry.

Have dad engage in playful activities you know your baby likes already

The key to having your baby become more comfortable with dad is to have dad spend more time with his baby in general. Dad can plan to use the time he spends with his baby doing activities you already know your baby loves doing; eating, playing with a familiar toy, or watching a cartoon you know your baby loves are all good activities to have dad join baby in doing.

If you notice that your baby specifically loves to do bicycle kicks on the ground with mom, have dad do this with baby instead. The more time that dad spends in the happy moments, the better that baby will be able to cope with dad in times of frustration.

Positive encouragement of the fun stuff lead by dad is super important to warm baby up to daddy again during a mommy-phase. But, regardless of what mood your baby is in, try to encourage dad and baby time no matter what your baby is feeling like.

dad feeding baby

All babies love to eat so have dad feed his baby for special bonding time

Breasts! That’s one thing mom has but dad doesn’t, this doesn’t have to be an issue though if your baby is breastfed. The way to your baby’s heart is quite possibly through mealtime.

Have mom pump a few bottles of breastmilk for dad to offer to your little one the next time hunger arises. This will make it possible for your baby to receive all those good vibes babies receive from their mothers – from dad too. If dad can mimic mealtime with his baby the way mom and baby do it, it’s a good time to create a positive bonding space between the two.

If your baby hasn’t had bottles ever, just be ready for a bit more resistance when dad offers it. Stick with it though, this will pay off for everyone if you can do it. It helps mom out with feedings and gives dad more time to spend time with his baby.

Get dad to wear one of moms shirts and then hold the baby

You can either have dad wear one of your regular old t-shirts if possible or dad can wrap the baby up in one of your t-shirts so that your baby can smell mamma.

Babies have this super-scent for an oil secreted from their mother’s breasts. This means that even if the mom is out of eyesight range from the baby, they can still smell her, due to the oil secreted on a mother’s chest and areola. The oil is very useful in terms of breastfeeding in the early stages of infancy, but not so much when they get older and need more time with dad.

The oil is produced from the Montgomery gland is nature’s way of helping newborns be attracted to their mothers at birth. The oil doesn’t really go away though, it’s designed to support mom and baby all throughout their entire breastfeeding term which could be the first few years.

Due to the presence of this oil, it can be helpful to have mom leave the house, and dad use one of her t-shirts to swaddle the baby in. You would be surprised how much a mother’s scent can truly calm her baby down again, thankfully it remains on clothing even after it’s done being worn.

Laughing babies make for the happiest babies, right?

It makes sense to have dad step in when the baby is already upset, but it makes even more sense to reinforce the positive mood your baby is in.

If your baby is already happy, what better way to strengthen a bond than to have your partner play with the baby while everyone is in a good mood.

mom, baby, and dad

This will show your baby that it’s possible to be content with both parents, without having to calm down first.

Babies are easy to play with when they’re already in a good mood, all dad has to do is talk in a happy tone and laugh towards the baby. Usually, babies will respond positively to the positive energy around them.

Your baby will tell you if they aren’t feeling it, so don’t overly push it if your baby isn’t in the mood to laugh with dad right then. Go with your baby’s cues for the best outcome in this situation, this will allow your baby to understand mom and dad both support how they feel.

The flip side to the baby only wanting mom, is the baby only wanting dad. What can parents do in this situation?

We get that baby only wanting mom is one thing, a bit of an easier thing for the family to handle if you may? With breastfeeding babies who only want mom, it’s simple, throw the baby on the breast and have the baby cuddle with mom.

But, what happens when your baby only wants to be with dad? Since he can’t breastfeed, and mothers need bonding time with their babies as much as dads do…what should parents do if their baby is clearly saying they only want to be around dad?

Even though we love a strong bond between baby and dad, a baby needs mom time too

You might think that the bond that’s been evolving between dad and the baby is adorable, rightfully so. But once a few months pass of the baby only wanting to be with dad, mom might realize that things are getting a bit awkward, to say the least.

Mom needs her baby to desire time with her too. And babies absolutely need time with their mothers to stay happy long-term.

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If your baby is showing signs of only desiring dad you can do plenty of things to strengthen the bond between you and your baby – while keeping the bond between dad just as strong as ever.

When Your Baby Only Wants Dad, Here’s What You(mom) Can Tell Yourself

It might not make the most sense why you have an issue with this in the first place. Most of the time, we mothers are trying to catch a break from baby time.

After all, moms aren’t the best at setting everything aside and tending to ourselves instead of the family. Here are a few things moms might need to be reminded of when the baby only wants to be with dad.

Relax and go with the flow of things for now

So you’re in the thick of your baby only wanting to be around dad, and you’re starting to get a bit nervous? Well, maybe you should sit back and relax instead of worry. Phases usually will pass as quickly as they come, so what’s the deal with this phase anyway if it gives you a bit extra freedom for the time being?

I know as a mother who thoroughly enjoys being with my children, it would be difficult to sit back and relax when my baby doesn’t need me. It’s hard to let go! But ultimately it would be good for me to do.

As mothers, caring for our babies gives us something to do during the day – feeding, changing, and bath time keep mothers busy.

When you’re in the depths of rejection by your baby, rest assured that things should return to normal at some point in the near future. Many mothers have been through this phase before, and their baby came back around in due time too.

Think of this phase as ‘dad-time’ and encourage your baby to still give you attention whenever possible. Try not to take it personally that your baby prefers dad instead of you.

You have more freedom right now so enjoy it

As mothers, we have all been through at least one of our children being stuck to us, you know those times where you can’t even use the restroom without a toddler at your feet. Well, this is your time to have more freedom – when your baby adores dad.

grocery shopping

Take yourself out to the grocery store for treats, enjoy a bath at home, or go for a walk – to the gym if you like to work out. This is the perfect time to see a positive light in all the freedom you have been gifted.

Encourage your baby to pay attention to you but don’t be pushy

While dad is enjoying all this time with a smiley happy baby, it can still be tough to step aside when feel left out of the picture.

I mean, that’s why we became a mother in the first place right? To see the adorable smiles of our children, and spend time with them.

One way to gain back your baby’s attention is to be readily available to spend time with your baby. Just don’t push it if they aren’t having it.

Don’t fall back on feeling like your baby doesn’t want to be near you for personal reasons, just accept that your baby still loves you despite the extra space needed right now.

Try not to get upset towards your baby for just crying in your arms, and remain ready to love on your baby regardless of what the mood is. Motherhood is all about being confident regardless of what mood your baby is in.

Sure dad might be getting all of the positive moods with your baby, but sticking it out in positive light is one way to win back your baby’s heart for good. Just like a best friend, working through the difficult times will prove to your baby you are still around – even if they push you away.

Making the most of the present moment is the one way to gain back your babies attention

If you aren’t already the goofy one in the house, now’s a great time to start being a little more outgoing.

Start when no one else is around except you and your baby if you have to, then work your way into feeling more comfortable goofing off around everyone in the household.

Oftentimes mothers can be overbearing with rules, winding up a bit too strict at times with the kids. This can become like an elephant in the room which your baby can sense.

plus size mom and baby

Make a point to be funny, make jokes, and change to your funny voice in front of your baby.

Just watch how big of a smile your baby puts on for you when you do this more often. Raising a family can be intense, and this shows – try to loosen up a bit to reconnect with your little one.

The present moment is really all we have in the end, this means you have to actively let the past go. By letting all of the stress go… you release a lot of tension that you might not have even knew you had built up.

Don’t take it personally that your baby is enjoying dad more than you

I always like to view relationships in my family as a sign of what is needed by each individual at this moment.

Your baby could simply be needing more of a male figure to play off of right now. The fact that your baby isn’t enjoying much time with you, doesn’t make it your fault.

So don’t step into taking it personally, you don’t need to feel this way. Your child loves you no matter what is going on, even if you have been a little too tense. You still are the mother your baby looks up to and cares for deep down.

Give your baby all the love they need when they accept it from the sidelines. Your baby can feel you, even if they aren’t making it known. Always offer kisses, hugs, and more when you get the chance to.

Speaking poorly of how your baby feels toward you right now is the last thing you want to do. This could drive the relationship into an even more distant situation.

Speaking highly of your baby, and not taking any of this phase personally is key to remaining confident through this part of your family dynamic.

mother with her baby

You’re still a good mom even if your baby is a bit distant right now

This concept coincides with the confident and patient mother you are – the one who knows her baby loves her regardless of wanting dad more often. It’s important to know you are a good mother even when your baby shies away from you.

Anytime my children get hurt, they run to dad, and as much as I wish they would let me heal their boo-boo’s – they’re comfortable with dad doing this.

My kids run to dad, not because I did anything bad in the past, it’s just a special bond they have with their father and I support it.

The best part about remaining confident in your motherhood even if your baby doesn’t want you right then is that your baby comes back loving you stronger than before when you do this.

You know that phrase “when you love something let it go, and if it comes back…” This is the best time to prove to yourself first hand, how true this saying really is.

Don’t give up too early if your baby just cries in your arms

Even if your baby seems to just cry endlessly when in your arms, don’t give up early because of this. It’s exhausting to hold a crying baby, we get it, but don’t give up that easily. They can sense whether you want to be around them or not too.

As parents, it’s our duty to be with our little ones even in their worst times. Figuring out a way to view the more difficult phases such as this daddy-phase in a positive light will help your baby accept you back sooner.

Maybe your baby is just testing the boundaries and exploring how it feels to have an opinion of his own in the first place. Supporting them through various expressions is one way to be a great mother.

dad feeding baby with mom

In Conclusion

In the end, parenting comes down to being able to move positively through the ups and downs of life with your family.

Having a baby means supporting them through their various phases of life, sometimes they will want mom or dad more than the other.

Other times there will be quite a nice balance between all the relationships in your household- stick through them all and you will prosper as a whole.  Listen to your baby’s cues to form a strong relationship with your child during infancy that lasts well into adulthood.

The lifelong bond with your child starts at a very young age, even as early as having a newborn who doesn’t want you at certain times. Try to be gentle when your baby pushes you away, and welcoming when they want you all the time.

Remember the alternative to your baby not wanting you at all, is your baby wanting you all of the time – which can be exhausting in itself too. The truth is, you just don’t know what’s coming in the near future, so go with the flow and try to relax with the time you have with your baby during parenthood.


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