Are you a soon-to- be dad or a dad with a young baby? Are you a mom with a baby on the way, young child, or family support worker who wants to support dads? If so, then you may enjoy this week’s Facts for Fathers, Daddy, I Need You. It’s about the importance of dad’s care and interaction to supporting child brain development and how dads can build strong bonds with their young children.

Daddy, I Need You

A baby’s brain develops at an incredible pace. What babies – and their developing brains – really need is the care and interaction a father can give.

How fathers can develop a strong bond with their children

    • Start the connection with your baby as early as you can – even before she is born.
    • The most important experiences for a baby’s brain are ordinary ones – being carried, fed, bathed, diapered, getting outside, playing peek-a-boo, or hearing loving, caring words.
    • Do things together with your baby – take him shopping, go to the park, listen to music, visit some friends.

The importance of touch

    • Touch is one way you communicate your feelings to your baby.
    • Touch stimulates a baby’s brain in ways that help your child deal with stress and strong feelings throughout her life.
    • Touch needs to be loving, caring and gentle.
    • Being held, carried, stroked, massaged, or even sleeping on your chest are all ways to touch your child.

Emotional Development

Comfort your child when he is upset

But be aware that you can’t control your child’s feelings. Acknowledging their feelings and empathizing go a long way to helping children go through hard feelings.

Allow your child to feel the way she feels

Try not to say things like, “Don’t be silly!” to a child who is angry, afraid or sad. Use feeling words when your child is emotional, kind of like a sportscaster observing a game:

“You’re really frustrated, aren’t you?”
“I can tell you’re really excited about seeing your cousins.”

Be patient

Children learn to handle emotion gradually. At times their emotional responses will seem mature. Other times, they will be immature.

Model good emotional management

Children learn a lot from the way you handle emotions. Do everything you can to manage yourself, or find ways to improve your emotional management. This may be the most important aspect of helping kids learn healthy emotions.

Building brains through play

    • Play gets the brain working. It gets children interested in things.
    • Play helps develop language skills. Reading, rhymes, and tickling games help a baby connect words with sounds.
    • Play can be a way for a child to participate in life. Babies learn about the world by watching and copying you.
    • Play gives opportunity for problem solving and learning. By trying new things, babies learn their abilities and limitations.
    • Play is meant to be fun. Play is one thing that makes childhood enjoyable and interesting.

Moms, you play a critical role in supporting dad’s positive involvement in the life or your child. Support and encourage your child’s father with some of these resources. We know they help dads, and make them feel valued in the lives of their children.

Dads, do all that you can to be positively involved in the lives of your children. There is no one who can replace you as dad, so help them know, see, and experience all you have to offer them.

If you know anyone who could use encouragement or would enjoy this information, please share our blog with them. The Daddy, I Need You “Fact Marks for Fathers” resource can be downloaded here, or a hard copy can be purchased in our store.