Dad Barely Involved

  • Our beautiful baby girl, Maya, is 7 weeks old.  She is lovely and amazing.  My husband and I both wanted a baby, and were thrilled when we found our we were pregnant, after trying for a some time.

    However, now that the baby is here, my husband hardly pays her any attention!  He works, while I stay at home.  I realize he is tired when he gets home, but I work hard too all day, keeping our home nice for him, cooking him yummy food, and taking care of our little darling. He would rather spend time cuddled to the laptop than cuddling the baby.

    When I give him the baby to hold, he will only stay with her long enough to get her to sleep, then immediately put her down in her bassinet to sleep.  He hardly plays with her, and getting him to feed or change her requires nagging, which I just don't have the energy for.

    What happened to him wanting our baby?  It breaks my heart, and I have talked to him about how I feel, cried to him, and pleaded with him to spend time with her and bond while she is still itty-bitty!  Due to pregnancy complications with Maya, I don't plan on having another baby, so this is our one time around the parenting block.

    Can any of you please help me think of ways to help get this message across to my husband?



  • What did he say when you talked to him?

  • Well, really nothing.  That's what is bugging me so bad...he has this lack of attention to her, and no seemingly good reason.  I don't know what is bothering him, but when I ask him how he is feeling all he has to say is that he is fine.  But if he were fine, wouldn't he approach parenting with some of the enthusiasm he had at the beginning?  True, it is not what we were expecting, and it is very hard, but I feel like he won't spend any time with her to experience the joy that comes along with the sacrifices.

  • Adjusting to the changes that a new baby brings can be a challenge for both parents. While you're with the baby all day and your maternal instincts to care for her are in high gear all the time, your husband is likely not feeling the same -- and that's okay and natural. After all, he didn't carry her for nine months, didn't give birth to her, and has not had her physically attached to his side every second since the moment she was born.

    At this age, it's difficult for some dads to really bond with their babies because there is not much of a response from them. Even my husband, who adores our daughter, was not as engaged with her during the first six months as he was the second half of her first year. He says it's because there wasn't much he could do with her other than feed her, change her, and get her to sleep. I can understand that completely.  The first year is tough and it can be discouraging to pour out your love and affection to someone who can't return it.

    That said, your husband may be dealing with feelings and issues that even he might not be aware of. Many moms wonder why they don't instantly fall in love with their babies, and the truth of the matter is that while biology accounts for some of the bond between mother and child, psychology and environmental factors play just as much of a role. It's common for moms to have to build that bond over weeks and months before they really feel connected and in love with their babies -- and many moms who go through this experience self doubt, guilt, and admonishment because they don't feel the way they "should." Your husband may be going through the same thing and might not want to talk about it, or even admit it to himself.

    My advice would be to try and get both of you into couples counseling so that someone who has experience in these matters can help you both work through them. It can also provide a more neutral environment in which he might feel more comfortable discussing his thoughts and feelings. He might also be more willing to talk to a counselor without you; he may be feeling things he doesn't want to admit to you.

  • I agree with a lot of what Writemommy said. When you were pregnant it was something the two of you could experience together to some degree and getting ready for the baby was exciting and fun.

    A newborn is just not neaarly as fun, for a lot of guys, as getting ready for them was. Much as I love my daughter she really didn't do a whole lot when she was just a few weeks old. She ate, she slept, she messed her diapers and now and then I got a smile out of her. I found her endlessly fascinating but I was the one breastfeeding her so I monopolized much of her awake time.

    As Peyton has gotten older she's gotten to be more fun in leaps and bounds. Now (at 6 months) she's awake more and she plays and chatters and shows an interest in everything around her. She doesn't have a dad in her life but her Uncles (who were nearly terrified of breaking her when she was newborn) are suddenly much more interested in her as well.

    It may just be that your husband isn't really sure how to bond with her when all he can really do is hold her but that he'll warm up and become more involved once she's bigger and can really play with him.

  • My husband and I went through this same problem but my husband is very open with his feelings (which can be a good thing and a bad thing :) and explained to me that he was afraid of hurting our son, Austin, because he was so little.  He also said that Austin couldn't do anything fun yet! He was a little jealous of mine and Austins relationship and how I could put him to sleep, stop him from crying, and get him to smile and he couldn't.  I was hurt at first and then as my son grew and could do more his attachment to him grew and my son showed more attachment to him also. 

    One thing I did say to my husband is that I needed his help and some alone time.  I would hand Austin over when my husband got home from work (after he changed, ate, and settled in) and I would go take a long hot shower/bath, take a walk, do laundry, wash bottles, any thing that would give me a short break but I was still around in case my husband got stressed out or needed help with helped me along with Austin and my husbands bond.  Hopefully that will help...Good luck and keep your head up, it will come!

  • Developing a bond takes time. My wife felt very connected to our daughter right away, but it wasn't until she was born that I began to understand and feel the way she did. Even so it took time walking her at nights, holding her until she fell asleep, and other such activities to truely help me feel the same deep bond she felt right away.

  • Many dads say it takes a few months to bond with their baby. When they start cooing, smiling, and recognizing dad, it makes a big difference.

  • I agree with what a lot of the others have said.  At this point he probably just needs more time.  I can understand how it would be difficult for the father to bond with the baby when he really isn't getting any feedback from the baby at this point.  Hopefully he will become more engaged as your daughter gets older.  And as the others have also said, as women we have more interaction with our babies from the very beginning.  We're the ones that experience the morning sickness, sore breasts, swelling, etc as well as all the fun little kicks and punches during pregnancy.  We're also the ones that go through childbirth and really understand what a miracle it is.

      I know that my fiance hasn't really interacted with the newborns that we've been around lately.  Hopefully, he'll be different with our own little one, but it's hard to determine.  He has also mentioned being afraid of hurting them.  He's really good with my 4 year old, so I can only hope that those experiences will help him with the new baby too.

    Good luck with your husband and new baby!  Try not to "nag" him, you don't want him to become resentful.  Maybe you could try to carve out some family time on the days that he has off.  It's hard to do much to interact with one so little, but maybe if you take a family outing or something ask your husband to help carry, feed, and diaper her.  Maybe if he takes on more of the basic caregiving he will begin to feel that deeper bond similar to what you already have.  Let us know how things go!Smile

  • thats what my wife says about me one my little one started interacting back with me it was easier to bond with him

  • I home with Thomas all day every day so I've gotten to see him become more active, make new faces and noises, and just generally grow faster then I thought possible.  My husband is working from 4:30am until 9:00pm (he's covering my hours while I'm on leave because we both work at the same place) Monday through Wednesday and 4:30am until 8:30 Thursday through Saturday, which means that the night shift with Thomas is solely mine too.

    When my husband is home and awake though, he is so involved that it blows my mind.  He talks to our son; sings to him; is enthusiastic about feeding, bathing, and even changing him; and is just generally an increadible father.  I got to bond with our son before he was born and it seems like my husband is trying to "catch up" to us whenever he gets the chance.  I understand that not having that initial bond can be tough for dads, but it IS overcomable even if they are working 60+ hours per week.

  • Hello!

     I'm a stay at home dad with a 7 month old boy and a 2 1/2 year old girl. I think it could be a few different things. You have to realize that you have had a connection to this baby for the last 7 weeks + the 9 months you carried your baby. A lot of times guys don't feel the connection until the baby arrives, and even then it can be a huge shock. With my son I didn't really feel like I knew him or had much connection until my wife went back to work. It could also be he doesn't feel like he has anything to offer. You probably run the house great and take care of you baby fine without him during the day, so he just lets you continue when he gets home. I think some dads also don't really know what to do with a baby. They feel they can't teach him or her anything, babies don't know how to play like dads want to at that age. Of course this should change and your husband will probably show more interest as Maya gets older and starts interacting, rolling, crawling, and so on. As for now I would just try and get him to agree to alternate diaper changes while you are both home. Also get him and Maya to do some activities together like going for a walk or buying her some new cool clothes. Show him how she response to just him, and praise him on it. I know it seems like you maybe babying him and he should want to step-up without all the praise, but some dads take a little more then others. Good luck and know you have to change dad bad habits just like a baby's right away or your going to have problems that last forever.




  • Sam,what a refreshing point of view. I don't think that many men would admit that other men can fall into bad habits like that, or that they might need their wives to rein them in.

    My husband won't often admit it, but he likes that I keep him in check when it comes to this area. I don't let him get away with not changing the baby or giving her to me to take care of because I'm the mom -- and all sorts of other non-baby-related things, too! He says that it has helped him become a better man.

    I think it's really healthy to be able to look at yourself and admit that there may be things that could stand to change. Having someone else who can do this and support you, as well, is also a blessing. It creates great give and take in a relationship.

  • I really liked getting the guy's point of view from Sam (thank you!). 

    I agree with Writemommy and Peyton's_mama too.  Actually I had a very similar situation to what you seem to be having, in fact it took me 2 weeks to bond with my baby boy, and my husband one month to sort-of-bond, but really about 4 months for him to get properly interactive with him and really enjoy the baby.  My husband now says it made a huge improvement to the bonding once the baby could hold his head up (which I would have never imagined would have an impact!) - but he said he liked that he didn't have to be so gentle with the baby once that happened.

    I gave my husband lots of 'space' during the early times, especially as he did work about 50+ hours a week and had started a new job, so I let him do as little or as much with the new baby as he wanted (usually not very much!).  If you would like your guy to be more involved, I now give my husband 'options' if I really need or want his help, and I sometimes wish I'd tried this approach earlier on.  Like, 'Would you prefer to bathe the baby, just do your own thing, or watch a DVD together taking turns holding the baby?'.  Even if he is wanting to do his own thing, that's fine, he might make a different choice on another day.  You can also just put reasonable questions out there to him, "well, I can make dinner quicker if you look after the baby while I cook, but if you'd rather just put your feet up that's fine - but then obviously dinner will be later because the cooking will take longer.  It's your call."  Occasionally I would just ask him flat out if he'd deal with the baby for a few hours in the weekend 'cos I just HAD to nap, and he was fine with it.  

    I agree with Sam to give your husband encouragement whenever he does hang out with the baby or point out that he keeps the baby better-entertained than you do during the diaper change, or whatever it is!

    Good luck with everything!


  • I forgot to add to my last post: at least on the positive side it sounds like you are doing REALLY well looking after your baby, husband and house, just like Sam said.  THose early days are really hard and it sounds like you are coping with the work admirably, you should feel proud of yourself and I bet your husband is proud of you too.