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Can men really care for infants the same way women can?

I'm not talking about who can breastfeed, but actual brain hardwiring.  Obviously there are horrible human beings of both genders who are individually more likely to neglect a child, this isn't about that, but about how we instinctively react differently to the same circumstances.

Women’s, men’s brains respond differently to hungry infant’s cries

That's not the first study to address it, but it is demonstrating a clear neurological difference, not simply a difference in emotional response.  Male brains do not respond to a crying baby with the same urgency as women, and the results are same whether the people being tested were parents already or non-parents.


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Asked by NotPanicking at 10:14 AM on Sep. 22, 2013 in Parenting Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (18)
  • I really can't say since I live with a man who is, far and away, a much better parent than I'd ever be ... So maybe he's the exception but it's hard for me to think so.

    Answer by goldpandora at 10:50 AM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • My hubby seemed to be a much better parent than I was ... more attentive, quicker to get up when the boy cried, etc. He also seems to be a lot more tolerant when it comes to kids. He likes them way more than I do.

    Answer by SpiritedWitch at 10:57 AM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • I don't think it's necessarily the same, but I do think men can be just as competent a parent as a woman. Just because it isn't the same doesn't mean it isn't just as good, just different. My husband responds differently to my kids than I do, and they respond differently to him than to me, but it isn't better or worse, just different.

    Answer by missanc at 10:58 AM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • when our 1st born was sent home I remained in the hospital for over a month with renal failure and infection. When I returned my husband had the umbilical stump labeled in a baggie in the baby book, a decent sleep routine down, frantically trying to use up the newborn diapers because the next size was more appropriate and a million more mommy-ish things. It's possible but only if they must. Survival.

    Answer by hibbingmom at 11:14 AM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • OH - I should add he certainly was hard wired differently than me. In that 1st crucial newborn month when he'd bring baby to visit me at the hospital and baby would grunt/grimace/cry/etc I'd freak out and tense up and want to urgently fix whatever was wrong. Husband was much more chill..... let him be in case he's pooping and not done yet or let's wait and see what he does or it's OK for him to cry because you know he's ok when he's crying. Much more relaxed approach and the baby noises/crying didn't send him into an urgent freak out like a Mom. He cared less about crying and occasionally slept thru it but was startled awake and nervous about prolonged periods of QUIET

    Answer by hibbingmom at 11:17 AM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • Would be interesting to check hormone levels on men who are good with babies and those who aren't.

    Answer by gdiamante at 11:27 AM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • As medicine continues to advace the way we study the human brain, it's hard to deny the fact that men and women are indeed wired differently.

    That's not to say that men can't properly care for an infant, but they can't do it in the exact same way a woman would.

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 11:40 AM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • My son and dil have a baby boy, who turns one tomorrow. My son has been the stay at home parent the whole time, as his job allows him to work at home. They live in Japan, so I don't see them very often, but when they stayed for several weeks last Christmas, it was obvoius my son was the primary care giver, and the one who "understood" the babies cries. He was about 3 months at the time, and my son was always coaching my dil in how to hold him to feed him a bottle, what he was fussy for, how to burp him, etc. My dil is a wonderful girl, but not much of the typical "mommy instincts". So my son's brain may react differently that a woman's put he is a wonderful caregiver/daddy...

    Answer by Nimue930 at 1:28 PM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • They do not have to respond with urgency as long as they respond in a timely fashion. I have known a few men the chose to be as involved as the wives and were very good care givers. My hubby was great when he wasn't at work or dead to the world asleep. My spine would clench all the way up to get me into action with my kids. He did not have that sensation (according to him) but he knew what to do and when. He learned the different cries.
    Shows once again that we are hard wired to nurture and men to protect.

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:38 PM on Sep. 22, 2013

  • If they apply themselves I guess they could be....but for the most part I am going to have to say NO!! it comes in as very natural for a woman to nurture, the majority do by instinct some never get there but I have met a few nurturing men too, only not my husband.

    Answer by older at 1:55 PM on Sep. 22, 2013

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