Althought Therapy

Exploring Paternal Emotions:
Understanding the Phenomenon of Baby Blues in Dads

When you picture the arrival of a new baby, you might imagine it as a time overflowing with joy and a love that knows no bounds—a magical chapter that brings parents and their little one closer together. But if we peel back the layers of this idyllic image, we find a truth that’s less talked about: becoming a parent can stir up a whirlwind of emotions, and not all of them are blissful. And guess what? It’s not just moms who ride this emotional rollercoaster. Dads do too. The “baby blues,” a term we’ve long associated with new mothers, is something that many fathers experience as well. Recognizing this breaks down outdated ideas about how dads are supposed to feel and paves the way for honest conversations. This revelation challenges long-standing stereotypes about paternal emotions and opens up a much-needed dialogue on the subject. In this blog, I highlight some of the experiences of fathers dealing with the baby blues, shedding light on the symptoms, causes, and ways to navigate this emotional terrain. By acknowledging and addressing these feelings, I aim to support dads through this complex period, reinforcing the idea that it’s okay not to feel okay and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Postpartum Depression

Can Dads Experience Baby Blues?

Yes, up to 10% of dads experience baby blues within the first three to six months of their baby being born. However, this can sometimes be up to one year after the birth of their baby. 


Common Symptoms of Baby Blues in Fathers

  • Pulling away to be alone
  • Feeling angry, moody, cranky, or anxious
  • Lose interest inwork or favorite hobbies, or choose to work more
  • Get frustrated or sad
  • Feel hopelessness or overwhelmed
  • Have trouble sleeping or making decisions


The best predictor of new fathers experiencing the baby blues is whether the mother is experiencing postpartum depression or baby blues herself. About half of men who have partners who are experiencing postpartum depression experience levels of depression or anxiety themselves. 

Physiological Changes in New Fathers

Similarly, for women, men can also experience impacts on baby blues due to lack of sleep or relationship problems. Research supports that many men undergo hormonal changes following the birth of their child. Testosterone levels decrease while estrogen levels increase in new fathers. Other hormones, such as cortisol, vasopressin, and prolactin, may also rise.


Studies have shown that new fathers exhibit lower testosterone levels compared to childless men of similar age. The younger the child, the lower the father’s testosterone levels tend to be. Interestingly, fathers who are more involved in their children’s caregiving exhibit lower testosterone levels than those who are less involved in childcare. However, men with elevated levels of testosterone who engage in less childcare are more likely to experience divorce. One study found that fathers with higher levels of testosterone reported feeling less sympathy for their babies and were less likely to respond to their baby’s cries. Additionally, research indicates that new dads have higher levels of cortisol in response to the stress of hearing their baby cry, with those showing higher cortisol levels tending to be more involved in the caretaking of their newborn than dads with lower levels. This body of research suggests that men are biologically equipped to adjust to fatherhood and undergo physiological changes to meet the demands of child-rearing.

How Can New Fathers Overcome Baby Blues?

Communicate openly with your partner about your feelings and experiences. This can create a shared understanding and strengthen your bond as you navigate parenthood together. Participate actively in caring for your child. Sharing parenting responsibilities not only helps alleviate feelings of loneliness but also boosts your confidence in your role as a dad. Don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional if you’re struggling. Both talk therapy and medication can be incredibly effective, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Prioritize your physical health by maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, ensuring you get adequate rest (coordinate with your partner for sleep schedules), and finding effective stress-relief techniques. If your workplace provides paternity leave, make sure to utilize it. This time can be invaluable for bonding with your newborn and adjusting to your new family dynamic.

To all the dads navigating the complex journey of the baby blues, remember, you’re not alone in this. It’s a path many have walked before, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your feelings are valid, and reaching out for support marks the beginning of healing. The courage it takes to face these challenges head-on is a testament to your strength and love for your family. As you take each step forward, know that it’s okay to lean on others, to share the load, and to seek help when needed. This period does not define you as a father or as a man; it’s simply a chapter in the larger story of your family’s life. With each day, as you grow in understanding, patience, and love, you’ll find that the blues give way to brighter days. Your journey through this time will not only bring you closer to your partner and child but will also deepen your resilience and compassion. So, hold on to hope, take care of yourself, and remember, this too shall pass. You’ve got this, dad.