My baby boy is 1 week shy of 8 months. A couple of days ago, he started screaming whenever his dad holds him. He used to love hanging out with his dad. His dad was always the one giving him baths and would get more smiles and laughs out of him than I could. But now he wants to come to me. He actually even cried when the daycare people handed him off to his dad. Is this a normal developmental stage? Should his dad give him some space right now or continue with the normal routine?
Thanks a lot!
Hi there, welcome! I know around 8 months babies often go through a state of stranger anxiety where they become more fearful around unfamiliar faces. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it with parents. I’m going to tag an amazing psychologist to see we can get some more insight and I may look around for some articles to see if I can find info on separation/stranger anxiety with parents
@Drkarenweiss any insight?
I agree. Dad here … Each of my kids went through this phase with me and now they are plenty attached.
Rather than fighting it, I enjoyed the time (off - am I allowed to say that?). Seriously though, we were concerned too but for us it was definitely a phase. As they developed and could interact more cognitively it went away as suddenly as it came about.
Hope that helps. Look forward to hearing what your “dad” does with all his “free” time
This is sooo common!! While you don’t want to aggravate your baby unnecessarily, if dad needs to take over because you need a break or are busy, it’s totally fine. It could even help them connect better if you step away so baby isn’t distracted by you
This is for sure a very typical phase that all babies go through. My own kids all preferred me at that age and then at age 2 they only wanted dad. It goes back and forth all the time.
Welcome to the community-we’re so happy to have you here!
Agree with all of the above! Have Dad try not to make too much meaning of this, even though it feels really horrible when the baby doesn’t want to be near him. It doesn’t mean that Baby doesn’t love him or feel loved by him. I agree with @tots-allison that it’s OK (and probably preferable) to not bend over backwards to accommodate this preference when it’s really not convenient; Baby will be safe and loved when he’s with Dad too, and screaming shouldn’t be taken as a sign that something’s really wrong. Also strongly agree that it might help for Mom to not be visible at these times.
For both Mom and Dad: Try to play it cool when this dynamic is at play. Do your best to not let Baby see stressed reactions about this. (It helps if you really feel this way!) It will pass over time, and preferences shift (as everyone’s saying) back and forth. I hope this phase is a short one!
One more thing: Dad shouldn’t keep away because he doesn’t want to stress Baby. Lots of hugs, cuddles and affection should be offered, even if they’re rejected. If Baby reacts negatively, respect it, and back off. But try not to get into the habit of staying out of the Mom-Baby duo, since that might make Dad feel edged out of the family, and might make it harder for Baby and Dad to connect once this phase has passed.
Thank you all so much for the responses. It’s very reassuring to know that the behavior isn’t unexpected. I was getting a little worried because I had never seen this with my nieces. @tots-allison and @Drkarenweiss, the pointers on how to handle this was exactly what I was looking for. @TonyL, I loved hearing a dad’s perspective on this and it’s good to know that this phase is not an indicator of what the father son relationship is going to be like in the future.
The extreme screaming has eased off a little bit today, but he still keeps wanting to come to me when his dad holds him. Hoping this phase will pass soon.