Loving hugs from dads can help babies feel secure

nov. 16, 2021

Dads, when your baby enters the world, it’s natural to feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility. You’ll want to protect your child from anything life will throw his way, from potential bumps and scrapes to hurt feelings. While you can’t prevent every hard thing that might come along, you can give him a strong foundation of knowing he’s loved unconditionally by you. Even though you’ve loved him even before he burst into the world, this solid connection starts with affectionate hugs to show him how much you care. Here are some cool things to remember about the tremendous power of a hug from dad.

Disney Dads Set an Example

We all know Disney stories, and they can set an example of the power of strong relationships. Some of our most beloved Disney movies feature appearances from terrific father figures, each of them playing a significant role in the lives of their children. Think about Mufasa in The Lion King: wise and strong, he loved his son Simba so much that he was willing to risk his own life for his little boy. Belle’s dad Maurice in Beauty and the Beast is creative and kind, and he does his best to be a good provider for his little family. And who could forget Geppetto in Pinocchio, the loving father who loved his “real boy” without measure. These Disney dads are so great, they just might inspire fathers to hug their children tight.

The “Father Effect”

It seems intuitive that kids need their parents’ love, and while lots of research is dedicated to the importance of moms, there are a lot of data-driven studies that highlight how vital it is for kiddos to have a father figure in their lives. For example, studies show that kids who have an engaged dad tend to avoid dangerous, high-risk behaviors later in life. Some studies also indicate that children with a dad who takes an active role in parenting tend to have higher IQ test scores and be more psychologically healthy. These positive impacts of having an engaged dad are often called “the father effect.” In a 2021 article on the website Fatherly.com, Pennsylvania State University sociologist Paul Amato said, “When fathers are actively involved with their children, children do better.” Start developing that close bond with your child from day one, offering gentle, loving hugs to establish a tight connection.

Baby Bonding

A mom’s connection with her baby can seem more straightforward. After all, that little one grew inside of her for nearly a year before meeting dad for the first time. Still, you love your child just as much, and it’s a great idea to engage in activities that strengthen your bond. Skin-to-skin contact is a great way to regulate your newborn’s body temperature. You can start with laying your child (possibly wearing just her diaper) on your bare chest, covered loosely by a blanket. You might also try cradling your baby for a close-to-your-heart bottle feeding session. You’ll be able to gaze into her eyes, just like mom does while breastfeeding. Not only will your baby’s mom appreciate you offering to take the night feeding shift, your baby will learn that she can count on you to meet her needs. If baby is feeling fussy, cuddle her close and walk and bounce her to soothe her tears. Another way to bond with your baby is exploring together. You might get a baby sling or baby-wearing harness and go for a walk to see the world outside of your home. This kind of activity will be the first of many explorations the two of you will have together over the years. If some things feel less intuitive than others, don’t worry, Dad! There’s nothing better to let your child know you care than a gentle hug.

Now that you know how vital hugs from dads are, click here to learn more about the importance of hugs from mom