Ways to get Dads involved
Bonding time with dad is an important factor in a child’s development. It’s the everyday interactions that have the biggest impact. Here are some simple ways to get dad involved from the beginning.
Dads can sometimes find it hard to feel involved with their baby, especially when mom is breastfeeding. There are simple ways to get him and keep him included though, and your child will reap the benefits throughout their life.
“Dads tend to bring a different approach to parenting than moms do, which makes for a well-rounded child,” says Greg Bishop, founder of Boot Camp for New Dads and author of Crash Course for Dads-to-Be.
“Children of involved fathers manage stress better during their school years and enjoy improved physical wellbeing, perceptual abilities, positive relationships, self-control and the ability to take initiative.”
The key to making dad feel involved and confident is simple: hand him the baby.
“The more dads are hands on with their babies, the more oxytocin Dad’s brain releases, which is the love/bonding hormone. So, if Dad just jumps in and starts holding his baby skin-to-skin and changing his diaper, Dad’s brain will release oxytocin, which makes him want more baby time. Even if he’s unsure, or not yet bonded, the more hands on he gets, the faster he’ll get comfortable.”
If Dad owns something in the baby’s routine, his confidence will grow (and Mom can take a nap!).
“Maybe it’s bath time, maybe it’s putting the baby to sleep, maybe it’s swaddling. The more Mom can encourage him and give him some space to learn what he’s doing, the more she’ll have a strong partner as the baby grows.”
Get Dad involved from the start:
- Before baby arrives: Make sure Dad attends major appointments. Encourage him to talk to and touch your bump, and include him when you feel your baby move. Involve him in all the major purchases needed.
- When baby arrives: Have Dad cut the cord and encourage him to have skin-to-skin contact. He can do the first diaper change and bath, and use a baby sling for bonding time.
- As baby grows: Make play time Dad’s time. “Research shows that two thirds of 6 month-olds prefer Dad when it comes to playtime, as that tends to be Dad’s specialty. It teaches his baby how to laugh and take risks, teaches self-control, develop motor skills and speeds the development of baby’s brain and nervous system,” Bishop says.
- As a toddler: “Dads tend to show the world to their kids, and be great at adventure, so Dad might try bringing his toddler into his world. If he likes cars, he can take his little one to a car show. If he surfs, exposing his baby to the beach is a start. Explore things they will eventually be able to do together.”
- As a pre-schooler: Think Science, Bishop says. “Research shows that by the time kids get to kindergarten, they already think ‘science is hard’. But, science is everywhere – and it can be a fun thing to learn about with Dad. Starting a vegetable garden, showing how the sun can cook things with solar power, camping , playing, lying on a blanket on the lawn looking at the stars, these are all things dads can do to foster a sense of curiosity in their pre-schoolers and teach them the fun of discovery – at their child’s level, of course.”
Helpful resources for dads
The are several excellent online resources jam-packed with information for dads. Here are a few of our favorites:
Image by Laura Penley @lauraslensonlife