When he first ducked into the shower during that cozy 8am feed, you figured he was hogging the hot water. Then, when he started rolling his eyes at your every coo and could barely muster the energy to change a diaper, you started to wonder, is my husband not into the baby?
The reality is that he may totally not be. He’s like that awkward member of a sex threesome who doesn’t really know what to do. After all, you carried the baby for 10 months. You’re their constant source of life, food and innate, totally physiological LOVE. He’s just meeting the baby for the first time, whereas y’all have been bonding for what feels like forevs. Fortunately, however your husband is feeling, and however you’re feeling about your husband’s feelings is all part of the journey and it will change with time. We invited Jean Fitzpatrick, a relationship therapist + New York-based psychotherapist to help answer your questions about this very real, very normal topic, as well as how he can start bonding with babe moving forward and how you can give him the space to get there.
“Not all dads find it easy to relate to an infant, but it’s never too late to loop your husband back in,” says Jean. “Since men usually get less or no parental leave after the birth of a baby, they often feel less “expert” than moms at baby care. When a new mama compounds this by insisting that everything be done her way — you’ve heard the phrase “maternal gatekeeping?” — that’s a recipe for having dad feel like the odd man out.
Be sure your husband knows how important he can be to your baby’s healthy growth and development. He might respond to Josh Lev’s book All In, or to the website fatherly.com. Help him tune into your child by sharing your own observations of what she is learning and doing.
Encourage your partner to join you in planning family time. Brainstorm some ideas about what your husband might enjoy doing with baby.
Tracking baby’s developmental milestones and getting tasks done are important aspects of life for any parent, but be sure to save time for fun. Encourage your partner to join you in planning family time. Brainstorm some ideas about what your husband might enjoy doing with baby.
Also, be sure baby’s schedule coincides with his, that she isn’t always fast asleep when he gets home. If he works late, how can breakfast be a special “daddy time” for your child? If you’ve back-burnered your own self-care, enlist him to care for baby while you go to the gym or have lunch with a friend.
Some men — and especially those who work long hours — can find the financial responsibility and decreased freedom of family life stressful or even overwhelming. If your husband does not respond to your baby despite your efforts, notice whether he is having trouble connecting to you or others, and whether he is showing other potential signs of depression: sleeplessness, irritability, lack of motivation. If so, suggest he ask his primary care doctor for a referral to a mental health professional.”