Maternal instincts are very real. They basically go into overdrive the moment that woman find out they are going to have a baby. Paternal instincts, on the other hand, only star revving up when the baby is born, sometimes even several months afterwards. For some dads, it takes years to kick into high gear. It just isn't as natural of an instinct for some men, especially since they aren't the ones to carry the baby or possibly breastfeed.
Often times mom spends more time with the baby creating a better bond and a better flow to their routine. This can leave dads feeling left out, unattached, and even envious of their little bundle of joy. It doesn't help that parenting doesn't come as naturally to dads who may feel like they were thrown in the deep end. The less time they spend with the baby, the harder it is to get to know the baby's little quirks, create a bond and get into the flow of the routine.
The first few weeks are especially important for bonding, and again dads are at a disadvantage when it comes to time because paternity leave is often less --assuming it's even offered--, for dads especially in the United States. This often puts dads in a tough spot having to choose between their job, providing for their family, or establishing a good bond with the baby.
As the natural caregivers, moms seem to be the parent that spends the most time with baby. There are a variety of reasons why dads do not spend enough time with the baby. Some dads are simply uncomfortable around the baby, prioritize work, are immature, or the infamous dads who just aren't around at all.
20 Dad Doesn't Recognize Cries
One of our great tricks as parents is knowing what each different cry means. To an outsider, all of baby's cries sound pretty much the same. It takes trying to diaper, feed, and burp to figure out what baby wants, but an experienced parent can usually get it right on the first try. It is a telltale sign of how much time we spend with our baby (or just how good our intuition is.)
After a few weeks, dad should be able to tell the difference between a hunger cry and a tired cry. According to WhatToExpect, there are seven main cries that parents should know the meanings. If dad gets flustered and frustrated and can't figure it out, then chances are he hasn't spent enough time with his baby.
19 Jealousy Is Brewing
It is totally normal to expect siblings to be jealous of the new baby. However, we rarely expect that our partner would be jealous of his own child. Sure, baby can really hog mom's attention and affections, but it is our baby after all. Being jealous of the new baby can be normal in a way, but it may also reveal dad's own immaturity.
In some situations dad might be jealous that baby prefers mom. Sometimes, he can be jealous of the time mom spends with baby instead of himself. Babies often show preference to their primary caregiver which is the person who spends the most time with them, often times that is mom. Parents.com recommends making sure we put in time and effort with our spouse because it will also make us both better parents and eliminate some of that jealousy.
18 The Baby Cries In Dad's Hands
Babies tend to prefer the familiar. If they aren't spending enough time with dad, they might not seem to "like" him. They may not recognize him or be comfortable with him. If baby cries when handed to dad, this could be part of it.
Some babies are a little more particular than others and prefer their primary caregiver or two over anyone else holding them. According to Babycenter, the more often baby sees a certain person/face, the quicker they will recognize and remember that person. If baby doesn't get a lot of face time with dad, especially if parents do not live together, that can make the bonding experience that much more difficult and lengthy.
Moms have the advantage of breastfeeding which can be a reason why baby prefers her over dad. That alone is a great deal and frequent amount of face time and eye contact, not including the other bonding benefits of breastfeeding. The more time dad spends with baby, the more familiar the two will be and the more comfortable they will be with one another.
17 Babies Are "So Easy"
Parenting is anything but easy. Even the most natural parents will struggle and rarely refer to parenting as "easy." It simply isn't. In the beginning, we are sleep-deprived and still trying to understand baby's various cries. Figuring out baby surely comes with a harsh learning curve. So when a new dad refers to taking care of his baby as "easy," most are quick to speculate that he is either lying or simply not pulling his weight.
Dads can even suffer from issues like Paternal Postnatal Depression during the first year of baby's life. According to FitPregnancy, a study done by Pediatrics found that dads who experienced depression in the first five years of their children's lives has increased by 68%. This can come from a variety of factors, but shows that no active parent has it "easy."
16 He Can't Change A Diaper
Babies and diapers go together like peanut butter and jelly. Being able to change a diaper is a rather simple but vital parenting skill. As a parent, it should be a no-brainer that we are expected to change diapers, dad or mom. Babies go through anywhere from 6 to 12 diapers a day depending on age so that would be cruel to put all of that on one parent, all of the time. Dad should be able to change diapers and actually do it consistently a few times per day.
It used to be more common for dads to be the background parent and for moms to do the dirty work, literally, when it came to diaper changing. The dads of today are much more hands on for the most part and working on spending time with baby before they can throw a ball.
According to a survey done by Cafe Mom, out of 4,000 dads "9 out of 10 fathers of kids 5 or younger said they change diapers and bathe their kids several times a week." While this shouldn't be mind blowing, it is raising the standards for dads to get involved with their babies and spend more time with them.
15 Uncomfortable Holding The Baby
Remember when Rachel Green from Friends held baby Ben like he was going to explode? While we can't really blame her, we should certainly be holding dads a to a higher standard and expect and trust that they know how to hold their babies. It may not be as natural for dads right away, but surely it is something they should be able to quickly figure out. WikiHow even has step-by-step instructions with pictures on how to hold a baby that any dad should be able to read and learn from.
Holding the baby is something we will do, in a variety of ways, for the first year and often times after that as well. Dad better figure out how to get comfortable holding his own baby and quick. If dad looks awkward and uncomfortable holding baby or baby looks to be in an uncomfortable or unsupported position, it is a quick way to tell he has not had enough time with his baby.
14 He Gets Intimidated
Okay, parenting in general is intimidating and frustrating. How quickly we become intimidated and frustrated though shows our lack of experience with our babies. Simple things like diaper changing, feeding, and holding baby shouldn't be intimidating. For a dad who doesn't really know what he is doing though, they often times are. This intimidation is often a sign that dad just hasn't had enough time as a parent to really get comfortable and find his groove. One way to remedy this is to ensure he spends more hands on time with baby doing these things.
Dads get frustrated when baby cries, just like the rest of us, but a less experienced dad will likely get frustrated more quickly. According to WhatToExpect, babies can sense our frustrations and anxieties. This often times just makes the situation worse because then both baby and dad are upset, and it makes it that much harder to calm baby.
13 Can't Figure Out The Car Seat
Car seats are a super important baby item because we use them almost daily, and they keep our baby safe. It is essential that anyone who will have baby for a decent amount of time knows how to properly use the car seat. It may take a little bit to get the hang of a new seat and to know how baby should be in it, but dad is one of the two most important people who should know these things.
According to Parenting.com, 4 to 5 kids don't survive in car accidents every day. Clearly it is super important that all of us know how to properly use them. If dad has baby buckled in wrong or too loose, it can be a sign he has no idea what he's doing because he hasn't gotten enough practice. The more time we spend with baby and take him places, the more practice dad will have under his belt.
12 Doesn't Know The Hunger Cues
According to KellyMom, hunger cues include things like licking lips, sucking on lips or hands, rooting, and finally crying. Of course there are other cues, but these are the most important ones for caregivers to know generally. As new parents, one of the first things we have to figure out is how to tell when our baby is hungry. As baby grows these cues will adjust, but any seasoned parent will still be able to recognize when baby is hungry.
Since hunger cues are one of the first things that we should learn as parents, it's obviously a pretty big red flag that dad hasn't been around baby enough if he can't recognize them. Sure dad may not be the one breastfeeding, but he should still know what the baby is doing when he is rooting and what it means.
11 Spit Up Makes Him Queasy
As a parent, it is basically a right of passage to be covered in our children's bodily fluids multiple times throughout their lifetime. Honestly, spit-up is probably one of the least offensive of such bodily fluids. People may think that parents have iron stomachs to tolerate all of this (and some do), but but it's our kid and part of the parenting territory.
One easy way to spot a new parent is how easily grossed out they are. According to BabyCenter, the peak age for spitting up is four months. So it is something that we have to get used to pretty early as baby learns to feed. We could bet that there's a pretty strong correlation between the time spent with baby and how queasy bodily fluids make us.
10 Lack Of Head Control
Whenever someone is handed a new baby they are told to "watch the head." Their concern isn't us bumping the baby's head; although, we should avoid doing that as well. They are actually talking about the baby's inability to control and hold up her own head.
It is a huge eye-opener that dad really hasn't spent much time with his baby if he is unaware of this rather well-known baby fact. The head control is a process according to TheBump and baby begins to have better neck/head control by about 2 months old. Dad should be well aware of his own baby's abilities, especially with something as simple and important as this.
9 What Are Soft Spots?
If the only soft spots dad knows about are the touchy subjects we don't like talking about clearly he is a rookie. According to WhatToExpect, baby's smaller, back soft spot closes around the time baby is three months old. The frontal soft spot takes up to two years of age to close. It is super important for everyone to be aware of and careful for baby's soft spots. Anyone who spends time with baby should definitely be aware of it because it could be potentially harmful otherwise.
The soft spots are places where baby's skull has not yet fused together. They allowed baby to better fit through the birth canal, and they will close up eventually. The soft spots can also show signs of trouble. The soft spot can show signs of dehydration or even brain swelling.
8 He Doesn't Know How To Feed Baby
Breast or bottle fed? Can baby have solids or table food? These are things that we can easily rattle off, no matter how sleep deprived, including details like ounces or food allergies. Any involved parent would have this rather basic knowledge about their own baby.
So if dad goes to give baby some ridiculously large bottle, he clearly hasn't been paying attention the last however many months. While we may not expect him to know which breast baby last ate off of, we do expect he knows not to give his exclusively breastfed baby formula. These aren't crazy expectations.
According to Babycenter.com, most doctors recommend starting foods with baby between 4 and 6 months. As an informed and active dad, he should know what baby can and can't have when it comes to things like this.
7 Swaddle? What's A Swaddle?
The infamous swaddle is a trick that every parent should know. It's something we learn in the most basic new parent classes and also usually at the hospital after baby is born. If dad doesn't know how to swaddle, he clearly hasn't been with baby too much because it's common knowledge to parents everywhere.
Swaddling is beneficial to baby's sleep because it can prevent baby from waking herself as a response to her startle reflex according to BabyCenter. Swaddling can also help to calm down an overstimulated baby. The warm, closeness provided by a swaddle makes baby feel as if she is back in the womb almost.
6 He Can't Figure Out Baby Clothes
Baby clothes are a skilled art. There are snaps and zippers that are everywhere and so tiny! There's that whole trick about pulling onesies down instead of over baby's head. Buzzfeed explained this baby dressing hack, and most seasoned parents hadn't even picked up on it yet. The little slots on the top of onesies have been around for ages, but a majority of us simply used them to stretch the outfit over baby's head better. Some of us totally missed the brilliant concept that it would allow us to pull baby's dirty outfit down instead of getting all kinds of mess on the rest of baby. These things take practice especially because dressing a baby feels similar to dressing a ninja or a squid.
Since we change baby's outfit at least daily, and usually a lot more with all of those baby messes, we figure that dad should know how baby clothes work pretty much within the first week or two. If he's still missing snaps by a month old, he probably hasn't spent much time dressing baby.
5 Doesn't Know The Routine
Even the most lax parents have a routine of some sort for their baby. Whether we have baby's day pretty much scheduled or just have a good flow of when we eat, sleep, and change baby, mom and dad should be on the same page.
According to KaplanCo, routines provide baby with a sense of stability and security. They also impact baby's cognitive and emotional development. While it is okay to switch things up now and then, both parents should be following the same basic routine. If not things can get confusing for a young baby who is hungry or overtired. We surely do not want to mess with a young baby's sleep!
4 The Baby Doesn't Recognize Him
While newborns don't have the greatest eyesight yet, around two months baby can recognize faces and will response with a smile according to Parents.com. We obviously expect dad would get this response from his own baby. Spending enough time with baby would ensure that dad is a familiar face to him.
It is always sad and a little concerning when baby doesn't even recognize dad because he is always on his phone or just too busy for baby. Dad should be a familiar and comforting face. Baby's reaction to him shouldn't be similar to what it would be for a stranger at the grocery store.
3 What Does The Baby Like?
From day 1 our babies are forming their little personalities. It starts simple with things like hating being swaddled or loving to snuggle. Some kids hate the car and others love it. Both mom and dad should know these things. We should know the foods our kids like and how they like their bottle.
Learning what baby doesn't like happens a lot earlier and a lot easier than figuring out what baby does like. An unhappy baby will cry and it is our job to figure out why. In those first few weeks we often figure out if baby likes the car, how she wants to be held, and a few other simple preferences. According to Parents.com, baby doesn't even smile until after his first month. That means baby is likely happy if he isn't crying.
2 There's Never Enough Time
We'd be lying if we said our children always made things easy. As parents though we don't (often) mind. If dad just sees baby as the reason he can't party, play video games all night, or generally do what he wants when he wants, there is a serious problem. This can mean a variety of things, but it is likely a combination of dad not developing a proper bond with his baby and his own immaturity.
Almost any good parent prioritizes their kids above everything else. We dedicate as much time as possible to our children and genuinely enjoy the quality time with them. In fact the blog, My Mad Little Family lists a bunch of the inconveniences that we as parents deal with such as the lack of sleep and spending all of our money on our kids. These are things that while sometimes annoying, we really don't mind or complain about often. If dad feels the need to whine constantly about this, he might not be getting enough time with baby or be ready to be a dad.
1 The Bond Isn't There
There are countless ways for dad to bond with baby. Just because he can't nurse doesn't mean he should bench himself from establishing a bond with his new bundle of joy. Parents.com recommends a variety of ways for dad to be hands on and involved to create the best possible bond with his new baby. Obviously spending time with baby is going to be the best whether it be cuddling, feeding her a bottle, or going for a walk.
Some dads really step it up and take a turn on the night shift with baby. It is important for him to be able to soothe baby when she is upset also. If dad seems to simply coexist with his kids, it is surely a sign that he never established a good bond with him.
References: Parents, Babycenter, TheStir, WikiHow, WhatToExpect, Parenting.com, WhatToExpect, KellyMom, BabyCenter, TheBump, WhatToExpect, BabyCenter, Buzzfeed, Kaplan, Parents, Parents, MadLittleFamily, BabyCenter, FitPregnancy, Pediatrics, Parents