My baby/toddler pushes my hands aside, he screams when I hold him, screams when I feed him, looks at me like I’m a stranger to him, doesn’t want to play with me. He only wants his mother, he adores her but shows a completely different attitude towards me, I think he hates me.
Are you in the same shoes as me? There was a time I wondered why, and I got angry at him too, how could he disrespect his father like this? I talked to my wife, and with her advice, I made some changes and eventually won back my son’s affection. If you are a dad with the same problems, I hope my experience helps you.
So why does my baby hate me? The main reason he reacts that way is that he does not know me. Dads often leave early for work and come back late. Most of our time and energy are spent outside, and when we’re back we’re exhausted and have no energy for our child. My baby hates me because he doesn’t know me.
Weekends are the only time we have personal time too, and we tend to spend it on our hobby. Because of this, we are also less experienced at interacting with our child, we get helpless pretty quickly when dealing with him.
Fortunately, there are practical steps that we can take to overcome those problems even as a full-time worker who only sees our baby once a week. Let’s look at it holistically, and at the end of this read, you will learn how to apply practical actions and win back your baby’s affection.
10 Minutes Play
Before going to the more challenging aspects, let’s start with play. Set aside 10 minutes a day, just to play with him. Put the phone aside, the TV turned off, no iPods, no chatting with your wife, just your full attention on him. Babies and toddlers love to play, and you can easily enter in to play with him.
In the beginning, you may not know how to play what he plays, don’t worry about it as most of it doesn’t make sense. Your presence is what that matters, give him your full attention, encouragements, affirmation in the tiniest things he does, be excited, clap and encourage him, smile.
If you find your mind wandering away or feeling quite bored, try getting your wife in along to play, ask her how she does it and apply it no matter how silly it is. It is one of the best bonding time as a family unit. Look at him having fun, and enjoy his smile, his excitement, let it show in your response to him through your own smile, your claps, and praises.
Watching the TV with him or reading him a book is not considered as play. If you read to him, great! It’s another good bonding time but you should dedicate reading time separately, playtime is just for playing only and that is what your baby or toddler will enjoy the most.
10 Minutes Reading Time
The reason I put this as second is that it’s something you can very easily do, but your baby or toddler may not fully appreciate it. Still, it is something very beneficial to your child in the long run. I started by reading the bible to my son when he was a few months old, 4 chapters a day will take me more than 10 minutes, which is great!
There are many types of children’s book out there today, I especially like those with different textures that they can touch. Be excited when reading to them, make expressions as you read. If you find it difficult, do it with someone that he is more comfortable with, probably his mother. Over time, your child will get more comfortable with you. It takes effort, but your child will reciprocate your feelings if you invest the time.
Reading is probably one of the best things you can do for him. If reading is a routine activity for him, he can learn more words than his peers, his command of language will be better too, he will have an advantage in school. Many children struggle in school because of the lack of vocabulary, you’re laying a very good foundation for him so that he can fare better while building up that bond between the two of you. Keep it fun though, we prefer not to make reading time an academic time, there’s no scoring system, just bonding time.
Doing The Chores
Doing the chores, such as changing his diapers, feeding him, bathing him and putting him to bed is the best bonding time! When you do these things, you are actively involved in his daily life! The reason I put this as number three is that I understand how difficult and intimidating this can be for some dads, I’ve been through it. I can also tell you, with effort, these are skills you can learn, and you can even become a pro 🙂
Start by learning how to change his diapers, your wife or the caretaker can teach you and it’s better to learn from them than YouTube. Once you learned it, start changing his diapers as much as you can, your wife will appreciate the help and your son will have more time with you. It’s smelly, you may even touch his poo, but it’s all within your power to do it and in time, it becomes a breeze.
Feeding him is next, whether it’s by bottle or hand, it’s fine. If you are practicing baby-led weaning, be there to participate. Encourage him and give him encouragement and affirmation as he tries to eat by himself.
Next is something quite intimidating for me, bathing him! I had all sorts of excuses when it came to this as I thought it was too difficult, until one day my wife insisted that I try. She thought me how to bathe him, it was quite awkward but eventually, I got better at it. Bathing is also a fun activity for my son, so more bonding time!
Finally, put your baby to sleep. This can take a lot of your time, sometimes it took me more than an hour and a lot of patience, time where I wished I was doing something else. Initially, he would scream and only wants his mother, as I continue to persist, he became used to me putting him to bed and I could help my wife some nights, which makes her very happy. Hope you got the keyword here, he became used to me putting him to bed! If you persist and put in the effort, he will get to know you and like you.
If you can do the above, you will understand your child more, what are his likes and dislikes, what his different cries mean, what he means when he makes a gesture or facial expression, what he wants when he tugs your hands. You will enjoy your child like never before, and you would have given him all the opportunity he needs to get familiar with you, to get close and comfortable with you around him, it’s priceless!
Simple Fun Time Activities
Regardless of his age, there are some games that you can play with him. For babies, get yourself familiarized with tummy time. I’ve written a separate article about tummy time here. If you don’t know about baby development milestones, I’ve also written a separate article here.
There are plenty of appropriate activities you can do with him that are beneficial for his development. Babies love peekaboo, when you cover your face, they don’t understand that you’re still there, they thought you have vanished, and then you reappear and it’s so fun!
If he’s already a toddler and can run around, try hide and seek, children love it! Most likely you’ll be the one hiding since he doesn’t know how to hide, but you do! When he’s not looking, hide nearby that are obvious, behind the wall, the chair, somewhere he can find you, then call his name or something fun. For me, it’s “Where is Nathan boy?” When I do that, he knows that I’m playing hide and seek with him. I usually just hide in 3 locations, and if he can’t find me I’ll make it easy for him by calling him again or even intentionally appearing.
Keep it simple, they are too young to understand complicated games. They are interested in your attention, you talking to them, singing to them, playing with them, being silly with them. Best part? None of this requires money, it’s all free! The only thing you need to give is your time. Persist, don’t give up, eventually, you will begin to see that your child loves you.
They do not understand the concept of hate, and if you can invest the time in your child, your relationship with him will grow stronger and stronger.
Why does my child not like the toys I buy? Babies or toddlers below 18 months will not understand how to play with toys properly. They are more interested in toys that are not toys such as hangers, clothespins, bottles, and boxes, so don’t waste money buying toys. Here’s something I want to emphasize, you cannot show love by buying things to babies and toddlers, they won’t understand it. They understand love by having your undivided attention, your participation in their lives. Buying things for them is no substitute for spending time with them.
Why does my baby prefer his mother over me? There are a few reasons for this. For starters, your wife has a nine-month headstart compared to you. Relationship and trust are built even when he is in her womb. Children age 2 and below also tend to attach more towards their mom. You can close the gap by spending more time with your baby.