When Dad is Disinterested in Baby

Dad says he's "just not a baby person." Is that OK?

Q: Yikes! I can't get enough of our 3-month-old, while my husband doesn't seem very interested. He insists that he loves our son but that he's just not a baby person. Should I be worried?

A: We wouldn't call for the therapist just yet. Lots of parents (yes, even mothers) don't bond with their babies right off. Maybe your husband is freaked out by dealing with something so fragile, worried that he might actually break your child. Perhaps he just feels silly cooing over an infant (you know, newborns are cute and all that, but they don't exactly do much).

Whatever the case, don't let either of you get discouraged. We're willing to bet a bunch of money that by the time your son's walking and talking, Dad'll be a lot more into him.

Plan Ways For Him To Interact

That said, taking a little action now to get your husband more involved might be just the ticket. Be strategic about divvying up baby care: Be sure Dad takes on interactive activities like feeding and bathing. And consider buying one of those books that traces all the developmental stages a baby hits in the first year. Appeal to your husband's inner "hunter" and put him in charge of tracking developmental milestones -- from sitting up and starting solids to more subtle ones, like picking up an object with a thumb and finger (that opposable thumb thing is just a huge deal for us humans) -- that can zip right by you if you're not paying attention.

Watching baby change and noticing his subtle achievements can generate a lot of baby talk between you and your husband and, we suspect, go a long way towards assuaging any concerns about his paternal interest.

Kathy Bishop and Julia Whitehead are both moms and the authors of The City Parent Handbook (Rodale, 2004).

Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2005.

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