Your Style, Your Partners Style

The experience of pregnancy and birth, the intimacy of breastfeeding, and the fact that mothers usually take longer leaves than their partners can all leave their partners feeling like a fifth wheel.

Mom, if your partner feels left out and unsure of his ability to care for, comfort, and play with the baby, he will become more confident if you can stand back and let him find his own way. The way he comforts and plays with the baby may not be the same as yours, but your baby will learn to love it just as much.

In fact, research has shown what families have known all along: parents have different styles with babies, and babies respond to each differently. For example, when placed in front of their mothers, researchers say, babies soften their faces and move their hands and feet in smooth cycles.

With their fathers, however, their eyebrows go up, their mouths open in grins, and their legs and arms jump out as if they expect fun to begin! One study suggests that fathers may interact with children in a “more stimulating and unpredictable way” than mothers do, which may help them cope with less predictable social encounters outside the family.

If you are raising your baby on your own, the research into a baby’s ability to enjoy different styles of interaction may encourage you to invite friends and family to form close bonds with your baby. Loving, healthy socialization takes many forms, and they all can enrich your baby’s world.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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