Baby Cries When Dad Holds Her – 5 Solutions That WORKED for Me!

fater and baby portrait

Being a mom to a newborn is magical, scary, and tiring all at the same time! When your little one cries, you think you’re the only one who can soothe him or her. But, what about dads? If the baby cries when the dad holds her, can they really help out? If you’re a father and this is happening to you, I get you!

Babies cry for various reasons if held by dad. They cry because they’re hungry or uncomfortable. Newborns often respond better to a mom’s tone of voice or heartbeat or because she’s the key food provider. Dads can learn to soothe crying babies when actively involved from the start. 

Why your baby cries when you hold her as a dad

I was involved in our daughter’s life from the very beginning, including in the delivery room where I helped out with the actual delivery. But there were times when she cried when I held her. Like other fathers, I was puzzled over this and would worry that I was doing something wrong! 

However, I can assure dads that newborns will cry and it’s not necessarily because you’re the person holding her! Here are some valid reasons why your baby could be crying whenever you’re on daddy duty.

Could happen to anyone no matter if you’re a mom or a dad

Newborns cry for a number of basic reasons no matter if you’re a mom or a dad. Coming into the world is a whole new experience for your little one and they’ll cry for the following reasons.

Hunger

A newborn’s natural instinct is to cry when they get hungry. How else do they let their carer know that they need food? If your baby cries when you hold her as a dad, ask yourself if it’s close to her feeding time.  

Dirty diapers

A baby will cry when their diapers are wet or soiled. If you’re not aware that they need a diaper change, they’re going to cry until someone takes notice and cleans them up!

Uncomfortable clothing

Crying is your newborn’s only language and if they’re uncomfortable because of tight, scratchy, or ill-fitting clothing, they’re going to cry. Check if her cute (but uncomfortable) onesie could be the reason she’s actually crying and not because of you.

Hot or cold

Too many layers on a hot summer’s day could be a good enough reason for your newborn to cry. Likewise, not feeling warm enough on a chilly day could be another good reason your little one is wailing!

Reasons why baby cries with dad and not with mom

If you’ve ruled out the above-mentioned reasons and your baby is still crying when you hold her, the following specific reasons should be explored:

  • Tone and quality of voice: Your baby has an intimate relationship with the mother, starting as a fetus in the womb. From 26 weeks, the fetus can hear outside sounds including the mom’s voice. If your newborn isn’t familiar with your voice, it’s only natural she’ll respond better to the mother’s when she’s born. 
  • Mom’s heartbeat: From 18 weeks, the fetus can start to hear body sounds such as the mother’s heartbeat. Hearing the mom’s heartbeat as a newborn may be more comforting for your baby until she gets familiar with other carers in her environment. 
  • Food provider: If the mother is doing all the feeding, your baby is likely to create a closer bond with her. Taking turns in feeding the baby will help your newborn get close to you as well. If the mom is breastfeeding, consider pumping milk so you can take turns being your baby’s food provider. 
  • Cry-responder: Who is the first person to respond to your baby when she cries? If it’s always mom then your baby is going to rely on her to soothe her. Taking turns to respond to your baby’s fussing will help your baby to recognize you as her soother as much as mom.
  • Forming close bonds from the start: If you didn’t take time off to bond with your newborn, they may cry whenever you try to hold them. Sharing baby duties with the mom from the beginning reassures your baby that you’re no stranger. And, yes, opting to cut the umbilical cord is a good place to begin if you want to create a special bond with your baby from the start. 

Should you as a mom let your baby cry with dad?

It’s important for fathers to bond with their babies as soon as possible and one of the ways to do this is to get them involved in the rearing of their babies from birth. While you, as a mom, might struggle to hear your baby crying when dad is holding her, you must let him handle it in his own way. Letting dad figure it out gives him the agency to form a closer bond with your newborn. 

Watch this (male) baby whisperer calm a crying baby in seconds! The tips in this video may help you when you’re out in public or at an event when your baby starts crying. 

How I could stop my baby from crying when I held her as a dad

Being a dad myself, I figured out some great tips for soothing my daughter when she was little. These are the things I tried with her – later I heard from other dads that they had similar tips, too.

Be patient – later they may prefer you as a dad

I’ve learned a lot about parenting from watching my fiance as she raised our baby girl. But, mothers are only human and there are times when dads can step in and do their bit. Having patience is key to calming a crying baby and after a year, my daughter realized I had a whole lot more patience than her mother when it came to her fussing!

Having more patience than mom meant our daughter stopped crying far quicker when I held her than when she was with her mother. Working as a team is key to successful parenting. My fiancée was happy to let me handle our crying baby, knowing that I had more patience than her when it came to waving the magical soothing wand!

Sing and dance – stay in an upbeat mood!

Babies love song and dance and I learned early on that our daughter responded well whenever I began to sing or started moving to music. Staying in an upbeat mood helped to defuse the situation faster than getting all worked up because my baby was crying whenever I held her. Singing and dancing help to distract your baby from whatever started her crying in the first place. 

Newborns respond well to certain lullabies and you can soothe them to sleep by crooning them whenever you’re rocking them in your arms. Dancing to the right music is another way of calming an agitated baby down and I used this trick often with my own baby to stop her crying. 

As a result (I believe), my toddler today at the age of three, whenever she hears music at home or in the street, she starts dancing. 🙂

Stay alone with your baby

If your wife or partner is in the same room as you while you’re holding a crying baby, ask her to leave. Your baby is going to fidget and fuss as long as she can see mom so asking the mother to leave you alone with your little one will help you to figure out your own soothing ways. 

Having mom in the same room is akin to having a convenient rescue on standby! It’ll be more tempting to cave in and hand over your crying baby instead of persevering and doing the calming work yourself. It’s about having the confidence to say to your baby, ‘We got this, you and I!”

Having more room to find out ways of holding your baby is important and if mom is crowding you, you’re less likely to get this right. Staying alone with your crying baby means you can have space and time to figure out which holding position your baby is most comfortable with. 

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

What does having a healthy lifestyle have to do with crying babies and dads? A lot actually! Running twice a week and eating a healthy diet (salads are my favorite, in case you’re wondering!) all help to keep me in a balanced state of mind. This means I’m a lot calmer dealing with an unhappy daughter!

If you’re yelling at your baby all the time you risk having a child growing up wondering why her Dad hates her! Crying babies respond better to parents who are relaxed. Other great ways of adopting a healthy lifestyle include meditation, yoga, spending time outside in nature, and getting enough Me-time. Being a healthier parent, mind, body, and soul, means I can be a better dad for my daughter, even when she’s wailing! 

Wrap-up

Being a stay-at-home dad when my daughter was born was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The myth that stay-at-home dads are losers is just that – a fallacy and one that should be ignored if you’re the one looking after the kids. Taking your dad responsibilities on from the start, whether you’re at home all the time or not, allows you to figure out ways of soothing a crying baby. 

While there are valid reasons why babies sometimes prefer moms over dads when they’re feeling glum, it doesn’t mean you don’t play a valuable role in their upbringing. Stepping up and understanding all the reasons why babies cry makes it easier for you to be the dad you want to be for your kid.

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