Having a new baby in the family can be stress inducing on everyone involved. Babies can often be demanding, unpredictable, and often cranky. However, adjusting to the routines of a new baby isn’t the only issue.
When your baby only wants mom and starts to develop a strong preference for you – and only you- life can get even more stressful… very quickly.
This scenario plays out time and time again with almost all babies (especially those who are breastfed), but even a formula-fed baby will only want mom when given the choice.
Choosy babies choose mom – and that is okay (until it isn’t).
How to Deal When Baby Only Wants Mom
When your baby only wants mom, it can put a lot more stress on you, and it can also leave dad feeling like chopped liver. Even though there is a logical explanation – you are spending more time with baby after all- those valid reasons don’t make the reality any easier.
It can be crushing to a parent when their baby expresses a dislike of them, and it can be exhausting to mom.
One thing to be sure of is that your baby’s “only want mommy” phase isn’t a sign of dad’s bad parenting. It won’t last forever either (even if it seems like it at the time).
Your baby will grow out of this stage, and can do so quickly if you apply a few tips:
1. Experiment with different times of day
Your baby may only want mom because it is close to a feeding, nap, or another time of day that baby needs mom to feel secure. Your baby is new to this world, and only knows a few things – one of those being a preference for mom when needing security and comfort.
In fact, did you know that for the first few months of your babies life, they don’t even realize that they are a separate person from mom! So it only makes sense that there are times when baby needs the comfort that being with mom (and therefore feeling whole) can bring.
Try experimenting with different times of day to see if your baby may be feeling more up to a new face when it’s not so near feeding or nap time. Perhaps right when they wake up or have a full belly, or maybe even during play or tummy time.
2. Use baby’s favorites
If your baby prefers a certain activity (for instance rocking, walking, or bouncing) try letting dad bond with daddy during this activity! Your baby will often get distracted because they are doing something that they love to do, and may not even notice that mom is not there.
This may be a perfect way to let dad bond with baby without all the stress and crying. If your baby has a preferred toy, blanket, pacifier, etc., always make sure they have that with them when you’re giving them to another person.
3. Ignore it
Sometimes you just have to ignore the fussing and give your baby a chance to feel a little uncomfortable. If baby only wants mom, and you swoop in to soothe baby every time baby shows a little discomfort, you won’t be doing baby (or yourself) any favors.
If it is difficult for you to listen to your infant crying, try going out for an errand, use noise canceling headphones, or go out and have lunch with a friend.
Your baby may not calm down immediately and may be very vocal about their discomfort; however, this opportunity to bond with dad or another caregiver will be useful for everyone.
They will eventually realize that you’re not always going to be there and that they are perfectly safe and comforted with another person.
4. Use mom’s scent
Your baby may only want mom, but that doesn’t always mean that mom has to be there. Try giving dad something of yours to hold that holds your scent.
A shirt you have worn or a blanket you sleep with can do the trick nicely.
Have dad wrap the baby in the shirt or blanket the next time he finds himself alone with her. Your scent alone may be exactly what your baby needs to calm down.
5. Be persistent
It can be hard to hear your baby crying when you know that you could easily calm your baby. It can be just as hard for dad to hear the baby shrieking in his arms.
It can be tempting for mom to swoop in and save the day or for dad to tune baby out and leave it up to mom, but it is important to not give up.
Baby’s attachment to mom has nothing to do with dad at all. Also, as long as their basic needs are met, you know the crying is not out of pain or discomfort. They’re just trying to get what they want.
Without persistence, you may be left handling more than your share of burden.
6. Always plan ahead
If you are trying to get baby used to another caregiver, it can be important to plan ahead. If your baby is often cranky at a particular time of day, maybe that isn’t the best time to plan time away.
Make sure that baby has their favorite blanket, bottle, toy, or equipment such as swing or rocker. Be sure baby’s diaper is nice and dry, their clothing is comfortable, and that they are not extremely hungry.
A little bit of planning can go a long way in making sure baby’s time with dad (or another caregiver) is smooth.
7. Realize that it is normal
You have to realize that you are not doing anything wrong. Baby only wanting mom does not have anything to do with either parents parenting.
Mom is not spoiling her baby and dad is not a neglectful parent. Young infants often prefer mom for the first few months of their lives – especially if they are breastfed (but even if they are not.)
It is important to realize this is normal and not a reflection of your parenting or choices.
It’s only a phase
A clingy baby will not remain that way forever, sure baby only wants mom for now. But in a few months dad will be the highlight of baby’s day. Leaving mom in the dust! So while it can be stressful at the time (for both parents) understand it won’t be this way forever. Easier said than done – I understand.
It can be easy for parents to feel defeated when baby prefers one over the other. You just need to hang in there, continue your attempts, and remember things will change soon.
Do you have a baby who only wants mom? What has worked for you?