You’ve spent the past nine months imagining what a close bond you will have with your baby once he arrives. However, the bond isn’t quite what you imagined and you aren’t even sure if your baby likes you.
It’s hard not to feel rejected by your baby when they don’t seem to want you, especially if they are favoring the other parent. When you feel this way, baby is probably either overwhelmed or interested in the world around him and it is not personal. If you are concerned about your relationship with your baby, try focusing on simple bonding moments.
Read on to find out why your baby crying when they first see you after being gone all day and turning away from you can be normal behavior as well as some tips on how to increase and strengthen your parent-child bond.
Why doesn’t my baby like me
Your baby is the most important thing in all the world to you and you likely spend the majority of your time caring for them. When your baby seems to not want much to do with you or seems to prefer the other parent it can feel like a dagger through the heart.
The truth is sometimes your baby may cry when you pick them up from daycare or turn away from you because they are tired and irritable. Maybe your child is refusing to breastfeed or only wants your partner. There is usually always an explanation behind their behavior, and it usually centers around either their growing interest in the world around them or overstimulation when that world gets to be too much.
No matter what, it’s understandable reasons to have your feelings hurt and to feel unwanted, but know that this will pass and your little one will show you love again soon!
Baby turns away from me
There’s nothing like reaching for your child only to have them turn away from you leaving you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut. We’ve all been there. Let’s look at some reasons why your baby may be turning from you.
It could be as simple as your baby is feeling a little overwhelmed. They enjoy looking at your face, watching your facial expressions, and listening to your voice. When these sights and sounds (or the emotions that accompany them) become overstimulating, they will naturally either look away or turn their whole head from you.
If you are the primary caregiver, meaning your baby spends the most time with you, she could be turning away from you because you are so familiar to her. She is exploring more foreign surroundings or faces, and they are holding her attention. As hard as this may be, try not to let this get to you and remember that it’s a sign that she’s comfortable in your presence and feels safe enough to explore.
Baby always cries when I come home
You race home from work and burst through the door eager to see your baby. Instead of being greeted with coos and gummy smiles, your baby bursts into tears and seems to cry the rest of the night. Sound familiar?
The evening hours are usually a period of agitation and irritability for many infants. They’ve had a long day too, and their bodies are winding down in preparation for nighttime. Babies are naturally fussier during this time of day and shouldn’t be taken personally. In fact, some even call it the “witching hour.”
Keep in mind that your baby has been away from you all day. More than likely she is experiencing a whirlwind of emotions at seeing your familiar face. They know that your face is a face they trust to meet their needs and it is a face they have missed. At such a young age, they are by no means able to express these big emotions they feel other than by crying.
Plus, everyone knows that children always behave worse for their parents than other caregivers. It’s because they feel safe knowing they will be loved and cared for no matter how they act.
Baby won’t breastfeed anymore
If your baby has stopped wanting to breastfeed, it can feel like a personal rejection sometimes.
However, there are many reasons why your baby may be going on a nursing strike:
- It could be that your milk supply is reduced due to a number of reasons such as you are newly pregnant, are ovulating, have been pumping less during your time away from your baby, or have been sick or taking medication.
- Maybe you have changed something that makes you smell different to your child such as shampoo, deodorant, lotion, soap, perfume, etc.
- Your baby is sick or teething.
- You have a strong or overactive letdown of milk.
If your baby has stopped wanting to breastfeed out of the blue, you may want to address some of these issues and see if you can get to the bottom of it. Keep in mind that not nursing is hard on your baby as well. Focus on keeping the nursing experience calm and relaxing. Your baby may need some extra cuddles and loving during this time until things get back on track.
Baby prefers my partner
Throughout my parenting years, and with all my children, I’ve noticed that my children go through phases of when they are “Mommy’s girl” or “Daddy’s boy.” With my first child, whenever my daughter would prefer my partner over me it would always wound me a little bit and make me self-conscious about my parenting. By the time the second child rolled around, I already knew that the pendulum would someday swing back in the other direction and before I knew it, I would be the favored parent.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a popularity contest by any means. It’s important to remember that the role of mom provides and meets differing needs than those that dad provides, although sometimes both roles can serve the same needs. Which parent your baby prefers may simply depend on which needs your child needs to be fulfilled.
Let’s explore this a little more.
Baby prefers mom
Newborn babies usually prefer mom as it is her voice they hear during their nine-month stay in her uterus.
Newborn babies are also hardwired to know mom’s scent as she is their food source. In this new, bright, and unfamiliar world they have been thrown into, mom is a constant. She is familiar and safe. It is natural for your baby to prefer mom during this time, (though nothing is wrong if she prefers dad during this stage!).
Older infants and toddlers may still prefer mom as well. This is no knock against dad by any means. It could be that mom stays at home with the baby so they are comforted by her and know what to expect, or it could be that mom knows how they like their sandwiches cut and knows their favorite song.
Baby prefers dad
When my kids went through their daddy phase, it was usually as an older infant and toddler.
Dad was the fun one with the silly voices and robot dance moves. He was their fun playmate and the one who tossed them up high in the air.
If your baby prefers dad as a newborn or young infant, that is completely normal as well. It could be that his rumbling voice makes them feel safe or that it reminds them of the white noise in the womb. Don’t forget, they also heard dad’s voice while in utero. It is very possible that dad is just as involved in parenting as mom.
Whatever the reason, a strong parental bond to either parent is healthy for your child. And a child who is loved and cared for by both parents is extremely lucky to have both of you.
How can I make my baby like me?
Until you’ve had a child of your own, you probably assumed there would be this strong bond between the two of you from the instant they were born. While this is true in some cases, sometimes it just takes a little longer for the bond to grow.
Here are some ways you can work on strengthening that parent-child bond:
- Making and maintaining eye contact during feeds is a great way to bond with your baby. Whether you feed your child by breast or bottle, your little one’s gaze is fixed on you and your gaze on them. Smile down at your child, sing soothing lullabies, or just rock your child in the quiet.
- Hold your baby or let your older child sit in your lap as you read them a book. The safety of your lap and your soothing voice reading the words will make your child feel safe and help both of you feel connected. Try to incorporate this into your nightly routine to give your baby stability.
- Respond to your baby’s cries and let them know that you will always come to them when they need you.
- Lay with your baby skin to skin when they are newborns. Cuddle and snuggle them to your heart’s content.
- Talk and interact with your baby often.
Signs your baby likes you
It’s only natural to feel rejected by your baby at some point or another. After all, babies do most of the taking and parents do most of the giving and that’s as it should be. Still, it’s nice to know as a parent that your child loves you after all the hard work you put into your baby, especially those first hard months.
Here are some ways your baby expresses their love:
- You are the only one who can calm them down. When they are extra fussy or sick, it is you they want. After all, you are the one who always makes them feel better.
- Their gaze follows you when you walk away. You are their favorite person and they want to know where you are going and are interested in what you are doing.
- They smile and coo at you.
- You hold their attention and eye contact. Your face is one of the most familiar aspects of their day. They love watching your expressions and will try to mimic them.
- They cry when you leave the room. The thought of you leaving them is too much to bear and they are too young to know that you will always come back.