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  • Fathers: Tips
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  • 28/02/2006 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 61 articles in 2006 )
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This week we begin a new series on Fathers--devoted to dads everywhere, but just as important for moms to read. In this new series, we'll explore the important and unique role dads play in the development of their children. We'll also look at tips dads can use for learning and growing together with their kids.

Each person reading this may have a different image in mind with the word "Father." People describe fathers in many ways. What characteristics would you use to describe a "father?" What was your relationship like with your own father and in what ways are you alike or different from him? What do you feel is the most important thing a dad can do? Take some time this week to think and talk about these questions with your spouse or a'll be amazed at what you discover.


Nothing can replace the influence a father has on his child. Research is clear, children benefit from a healthy relationship with a "dad." Many people may think that fathers are just substitute mothers, but in fact, what they contribute to the development of their children is irreplaceable. Studies have shown that, in general, fathers have a unique way of playing with, caring for, and communicating with their children. Research also shows that father presence leads to several benefits that show up in school performance, social adjustment, and healthy lifestyles.

    Hey Dad! I light up when I see you come in the door, because I know we're going to have a good time. You make even the little things fun, like when you do funny faces while you change my diaper. You sure help me have confidence in myself, and I learn that people go and come back when I see you leave and come home each day. There's no one like you!

So, do not assume you are only second best, Dad. Your child benefits from having you change his diaper, feed him mashed peas, and take him for a walk. It is during the everyday activities that your child learns about you and about him or herself. "Quality Time" isn't something you need to find once a week, it's found in the Magic of Everyday Moments


It's not unusual for dads-to-be to feel a little left out during the pregnancy. While the baby is both of yours, "mom" almost always gets more attention and care. Plus, there are lots of changes to adjust to with the mom-to-be--changes in shape and appetite, mood swings, and some worry about the developing baby. Here are some tips for getting involved in the pregnancy:

  • Attend some doctor visits with your partner. It's a great way to learn what's happening with the baby and what changes your partner is going through at each stage.

  • Develop healthy habits together. Trying to eat right, exercise, or cut out harmful habits is a lot easier when you do it together.

  • Read a parenting guide, such as Learning & Growing Together: Understanding and Supporting Your Child's Development, or watch a video on parenting with mom-to-be.

  • Prepare the home for your new little bundle of joy together. You can help set up the nursery, baby-proof the house, and get the car seat installed, as well as make decisions together about various plans--from getting to the hospital to career changes and caregiving decisions.

  • Take some time to do something special with just you and your a movie, enjoy a relaxing meal, or take a day trip. Exciting and busy times are around the corner.


Many talk of postpartum depression in moms, but Dads can also face an emotional struggle as well when a little one arrives. Dad is used to being mom's first choice. Now, the baby has all her attention. But, while it may seem that all they need is each other, you are very important to them, and they both need you a lot. Mom needs you to remind her of and help her to take care of her own needs as well as the baby's. And she needs you to help her feel less alone, as many new moms do. So don't leave the room when she's nursing, keep her company.

Your baby needs you to feel and act like the important person you are in her life. The more time you spend with her and learn about her, the more you will understand her needs and feel comfortable and competent in caring for her. Your initiative in caring for your baby will also show mom that you can share the caregiving which will help her feel less stressed.

So, take advantage of every opportunity to interact with and care for your child, and talk about how you feel with mom. Learning about your child's development can add to the excitement, as you discover what she'll do next. Great places to learn more are Developmental Milestones and
BrainWonders Here are some other fun things to try with your newborn:

  • Hold, cuddle, and carry her with you while you take a walk or watch TV

  • Sing a favorite song to her.

  • As you give her a bath, make funny faces and/or sounds, and be sure to

  • Try gently rubbing her belly or back with baby lotion.

  • Talk to her while you change her diaper. She'll grow to love your voice.


It's playtime when it's time with dad. Research has shown that one of the primary activities dads engage in when they spend time with their babies is active play. No wonder they are met with smiles, waving arms, and giggles when they enter the room.

...six-month-old David loves being held above his Father's head high in the air. Nicole laughs as her Da-da chases her and tickles her belly.

...two-year-old Eli tackles his Papa and wrestles with him on the floor.

...three-year-old Marcia's favorite past-time is pretending to be a princess while her knight (Dad) lunges on the dragon (her teddy bear) and saves the kingdom.

Playtime with dad is not only fun, but an important learning time. Exploring, moving, tumbling, pretending, singing, and running all help children learn about themselves and the world around them. Dads also are great at enrouraging their babies to try new things and, often to the chagrin of moms...take a few risks. So, go outside in the park or backyard, or clear some space in the family room on a rainy day...and make room for some active fun with Dad and baby.

Visit our past Tip Series on Play


Infants who are "well fathered" tend to be more secure and curious and less hesitant or fearful in exploring the world around them. The more active play style of dads combined with the tendency to hold off giving immediate help to a frustrated child may serve to promote problem-solving. Children of involved fathers tend to have a greater tolerance for stress and frustration and may be better able to wait their turn.

    Little 20-month-old Tamisa loves to play with the pots and pans while her parents fix dinner. She joyfully clinks and clanks them as she stacks one inside the other. She diligently tries to fit each lid on its matching pot, and after several attempts at using the wrong lid, starts to fidget and cry in frustration. Dad looks down from the hamburgers he's making and smiles. Instead of picking up the correct lid and fixing the pot problem, he points to another lid to try. After a few seconds, Tamisa tries the lid. Her tears stop and she claps her hands and giggles at Dad.

Also visit our past tips on Goal-Directed Behavior, Curiosity, and Confidence

Research Reference: "Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child," by Kyle D. Pruett, M.D.

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