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Why Your Toddler Prefers Mom Over Dad? 

 August 6, 2021

When my children were toddlers, they always seemed to prefer me over their dad. My husband would be hurt sometimes and often wondered why they always seemed to go to me. Sometimes, I asked the same thing, especially when I was busy, and they just seemed not to want anyone else but me. So I started to do some research to find out if there was any scientific reason why toddlers prefer mom over dad.

Some researches show why toddlers seem to prefer their moms over their dads. For example, when a child feels scared, lonely, or hurt, they will run to their moms for comfort. It is not because a mom does a better job at kissing the tears goodbye.

Some researches suggest that toddlers prefer mom over dad because the mom is usually the predominant caregiver.

During the first year of a child’s life, the child and mother bond is the strongest because the mother is the primary caregiver during the first few days. However, since they do not have the same prolonged exposure as with their moms with their dads, it might create a preference in the children’s brain that makes them prefer their mothers over fathers.

Research has been shown that children prefer their mother’s voice as it is the first voice they heard while in the womb. From the time they can listen to in the womb, they hear their mom talking to them and other people. So, when it is born, the child naturally gravitates toward the mom’s voice. Then, as they age, they associate that voice with their mom and the comfort that their mom can give.

Pediatric experts and researchers also stated that children and their mothers interact in synchrony. For instance, if the mother and father are in bed or the same room together, the child will naturally be more drawn to their mother.

When it comes to raising children, often the mother does most of the emotional work and labor for the family, and children are drawn towards them because they feel safe and know that their mothers will provide them comfort.

It does not mean that toddlers will never love their fathers or go to them in times of need. On the contrary, young children will see their fathers as protectors and providers for the family. As they get older, they will see this more often. As the child gets to the teen years, they will be more prone to going to their father and asking for things than their mother.

What To Do If Your Toddler Prefers Mom Over Dad?

There are several things that parents can do when they deal with a toddler who prefers mom over dad. These things include:

Share the child.

Instead of mom doing all the fun things with the toddler, dad should chip in as well. For example, instead of the mom taking the toddler to the park, the dad can take the child to the park and do some fun activities. The more time the toddler spends with dad, the bigger the chance that they will bond more with them.

Bow out.

In order to encourage a bonding relationship with dad, mom should bow out a little bit. This can be hard, especially if the toddler is very clinging to mom, but it is something that needs to be done to help build the child’s father bond. The mom should go out for lunch, go out on errands, or simply go and take a bath while dad runs the home. The mom will get some much-needed me time, and the dad will get to have someone on one time with the toddler.

What to do if your toddler prefers mom over dad?

Be busy.

A busy mom can encourage a child to go to their dad to do some things with him. For example, a mom can be busy cooking a meal and telling her child to ask daddy for help. Encouraging the toddler to ask daddy for support can help them know that dad can help them just as a mom can.

Show affection.

When dealing with a toddler who prefers mom over dad, the best thing that dad can do is shower the toddler with love. Dad should never show how hurt he is when the toddler does not want them. It can only increase the child clinging to mom more. Instead, the dad should say positive things and let the toddler know that they are loved.

Starting new traditions. 

To ensure that the toddler is encouraged to spend as much time with dad, dad should come up with some specific habits that only he and the child do. For example, going on a memorable trip, reading a book, or doing another fun activity can help to encourage the child to bond better with their dad.

Why Your Toddler Prefers Mom Over Dad: To Sum It Up

While a toddler who prefers mom over dad is entirely normal and backed by science, it can still be frustrating. However, it is essential to remember that toddlers are toddlers. One day they may be all over mom; the next day, they may be all over their favorite toy and not want much to do with either parent. It just depends on what kind of mood they are in. As they grow up, they will learn to bond with both parents. I know as mine got older, they love both of us equally.

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  1. Oh my goodness, this can be heartbreaking. And yes, it might hurt dad’s feelings, but it also hurts moms too. Another tip we learned is that home dad looks different than work dad, so sometimes toddlers may confuse the two. This happened when my husband returned home in his firefighter uniform and it broke our hearts.

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