How dads affect their newborn babies

Some fathers don’t really feel that they know how to interact with their newborn, and that their role really finds it feet as their babies get older and become more responsive… However, research shows that dads make a major positive impact, right from the start. Find out how to give your baby a flying start with Dad Info…


Q: When does a baby start to recognise their dad?

 Your baby starts to get to know you from before they are even born, while they are in the womb! By about 24 weeks, your baby can hear sounds from outside, and that includes your voice. This means that for most of the pregnancy, your baby can hear you, and through that, is getting to know you and start bonding with you.

Once your baby is born, when you talk to her, she will recognise and respond to your voice from the times she heard it during pregnancy. 

The dad pregnancy timeline


Q: How can a dad build the bond and relationship with his baby?

By making sure you are as hands-on as you can be in daily care tasks like nappy changing, winding, bathing – these are all essential care roles which also promote bonding.

 If mum is breastfeeding, you don’t need to introduce a bottle to build a relationship with your little one, there are plenty of other ways - cuddle them, talk to them, take them for a walk, wear them in a sling, etc.

 You can even sign up for classes you can enjoy together, such as baby massage or swimming. The important part is to be hands-on and communicating with your baby. In one study, a group of fathers of one month-old babies were given training in baby massage, and encouraged to do it; another group was not. Two months on, the massaged babies greeted their dads with more eye contact, smiling, cooing and reaching and showed fewer avoidance behaviours than the control group.

Baby's home: what's next?


Q: What impact does being an involved dad really make?

A strong father-baby relationship impacts on the development of your child as they grow up: 

  • Several studies suggest the quality and quantity of baby-father contact has a direct impact on how secure children feel growing up. There is also research showing that toddlers and young children who spend more time playing with their dads are more likely to be sociable when starting nursery school.
  • Babies with strong attachments to their dads tend to have fewer behavioural problems later on. In fact, some studies suggest this relationship might have an even greater impact on the behaviour of pre-teen children than the mother-baby attachment. 
  • Substantial father involvement from at least the first month after birth promotes better language development and better cognition skills (suggested by higher IQ scores) among toddlers and young children.


Updated: September 2017

Hide comments (7)


  • Guest
    Johan Tuesday, 30 May 2017

    OK for dad to be away for a week?

    Is it OK for me as a dad to be away for a week from our 1 year old baby?
    Mum will be with her but can our baby still get hurt from her dad being away for 7-10 days?

  • Guest
    Anonymous mummy Friday, 14 July 2017

    Dear Johan

    Hello Johan,

    I am going through that now as my baby is 3 months old and her dad is away on a stag week. His best friend is getting married abroad so he could not make the wedding but we agreed on him going to the stag to make up. To be honest if I knew how much our baby would react to this I would not have agreed. She has become very moody (not like her) and in bed keeps leaning over to where her daddy lays down. He facetimes her and she try's to talk then Cry's when he has gone, even when she is hungry she crys before feeding(never did that before he left). So to be honest this will be the last time that he will go away when she is so young. Do not recommend it. (14/07/2017)

  • Guest
    Kim Saturday, 25 November 2017

    Distance makes the heart grow fonder...

    You and your child's father need to master the artbof reassurance. When your child becomes confident that either of you will return when you leave that behaviour will change.

    Placing your child in a childcare setting for a few hours a week whilst rotating who does pickups and drop-offs helps the child socially and emotionally.

    At first they are sad with little understanding but after repeating the same routine for a few weeks he/she will take to it like a duck to water.

    Then you or your partner can travel whenever you need or want to for either leisure, work or business.

  • Guest
    Malik Manan Zafar Tuesday, 20 March 2018

    My baby girl misses me.

    Hi. I got twin daughters and my one daughter 2.5 months older is missing me a lot. I was out of town for 10 days and she wasn't sleeping at all. When I reached home, she suddenly recognised me and her sleeping and feeding routine is normal. I spend two days with her and she was ok. Now i am again out for work and same routine of sleeplessness is started. I don't know how to handle situation because her mother also trying her best to entertain her.

  • Guest
    Genesis Sunday, 24 June 2018

    First time away

    My partner and I had a falling out and I move back to my apt, our daughter is 21 days old and we've been together since her birth and most of pregnancy. She knew our voices particularly right out of the womb. She and I were away from him for the last fewdays, things have been pretty routine until today. Her father came over and spent time with her and fed and walked her around till she fell asleep. After he left and i returned to her, she woke and looked around, and for the first time, cried like she was sad and was very difficult to sooth, she's not a fussy baby at all and this is the first time I've ever seen her with watery eyes and red nose and eyes. I felt immediately she missed him. I gave her a bottle and it paused her periodically but she cried through the bottle, i walked her around as she kept on. This is the first time she's even cried that sound and for as long as she did.

  • Guest
    Mom and dad Monday, 06 August 2018

    Nearly 4weels

    Me and my partner have broke up our son is 18 weeks old. And dad has only seen him for 10 mins once in the last 3 weeks. Will he remember who he is?

  • Guest
    David L Tucker Sr. Thursday, 27 December 2018

    Worried 1st Time Father

    Hello everyone, I am a 29 year old first time father. Me and my soon-to-be ex-wife split up the end of May this year and I have only seen our son for 3 days and the past 7 months. He will be 21 months old on the 30th. (3-30) and really my concern and question is do you think he will remember who I am in a couple months? Or will he have forgotten me by now?

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