Dear Helen, my husband is still afraid of holding our 5 months old baby. I tried to help him overcome his fear of holding babies, since I have already learned despite us both initially being afraid of improperly holding the baby, but he doesn’t want to learn. I am not sure if this is a rejection of his new parental role, fear of hurting the baby or fear of not holding it properly. I know that he loves both the baby and me, but I am really frustrated by this situation. How can I help him overcome his fear?
Try being patient with him in spite of being frustrated by the situation. Some fathers feel ready and competent for their new role from the very beginning, but some do not. Research shows that fathers’ involvement largely depends on the mother’s confidence in the competence of the father, so the fathers that receive positive feedback from the mother are getting involved faster. From what I can tell, you are already sending him positive messages and helping him overcome his fear – just continue to be consistent with that behavior. The baby is soon going to become stronger (able to hold up its head and torso, sit up on its own, etc.), which will work in your favor, as your husband’s sense of the baby’s fragility will gradually change, which will certainly help him overcome his fear. Sometimes, a fear is simply due to a lack of knowledge, so it would be helpful to talk with a professional who will further explain that babies are not as fragile and weak as the parent may think. Sometimes, external authority has more of an effect on the change of beliefs, so it doesn’t hurt to try this option, as well.