My husband recently returned home after his six-month deployment to Iraq. Our daughter, 11 months old, was interested in him at first. Now she refuses to be out of my arms to be held by him. What can we do to help her through this? He feels incapable of caring for her because she seems so unhappy with him. What can he do to bond with her? Melanie had been a very easygoing baby until recently. She sees my husband and me interact happily and has a good routine established at home.
Amy, make sure your husband doesn’t take your daughter’s rejection personally. After his long absence, her reaction is normal. She doesn’t know her father; since you were her only parent while he was gone, she naturally favors you. As your daughter sees you and her dad together she will begin to form a bond with him. Think of yourself as the bridge that helps your daughter go over to dad’s side. I suggest that dad stay close by as you feed, bathe and change her so she can make the connection. Gradually, dad will participate in these activities with you. At this stage it’s important that he’s nearby to read stories, offer a snack, watch a video with her or watch her play. In a few weeks, leave dad and your daughter home together so she will not be distracted by your presence. Your situation will improve.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.