Boy only wants Dad
the birth of our second baby ( now aged 10 weeks) our eldest son ( 22 months) has become more detached from his mother and more attached to me. This is causing my wife to feel down and unwanted by him. What do you advise us to do?
Parents of Two Under Two, Castle Hill
all very exciting for your son when the second baby arrives for the first few weeks, however after that the feelings of wanting the baby to go away, or of competition also start.
Usually older children show aggression and frustration to the baby by sneaking in a kick, pinch or two or, as in your son’s case, start attaching more to the other parent. Usually Dad has more time than Mum as she is busy feeding the baby so older children are quick to pick up on this and seek their comfort and attention elsewhere.
Around the age of two it is also a period of time when boys naturally move more attachment to their Dads and seek their company. So in your situation you probably have both happening at once.
I have a few suggestions – make sure he is involved in the care for the baby, like handing the nappy over, gathering a toy or two, passing the wrap; try to eliminate the ‘‘ mummy’s busy with the baby . . . in a few minutes I can’’ type of statements.
Involve him in feeding time, it’s a great opportunity to read them both a book on the couch or sing songs; be sure that when the baby is asleep Mum can sit down and play with your older child for 10-15 minute slots where there is quality connecting rather than just being around each other.
When he is with Mum, be sure to tell him how nice it is to just be with him and give him a cuddle and a smile and he will be encouraged to do so again.
Give him time to adjust and if you feel that it is still concerning then I would seek professional advice. Try not to take it personally, although Mum is probably missing being the first one he comes to.
I would be careful of ‘‘ playing along’’ if he starts demanding one parent over the other. For example if he was with Mum and then demanded he needed Dad, don’t go along. Instead get Mum to do whatever it was he needed or he misses out, because he can be playing one against the other. Email your questions to aboutababy@ townsvillebulletin. com. au. Nicole Pierotti is a child psychologist who specialises in working with babies and children. She is an expert in helping solve sleeping problems. Nicole runs workshops for expectant parents on how to manage newborn babies and establish great sleeping patterns. To make an appointment, contact Nicole at Lister House Consulting Suites, Mater, Hyde Park on 4724 2600 or visit www. babysmiles. com. au.