Dads, Early Engagement Can Help Curb Postnatal Behavioral Problems in Infants

Engaged Dads Reduce Postnatal Disturbances in Infants

According to a new study, infants whose fathers are more involved with them at 3 months old tend to display less behavioral troubles at age one.

The researchers at the University of Oxford examined 192 families gathered from two maternity units in the United Kingdom to observe whether or not there is a relationship between father-baby interactions in the early years of the infant’s life and the child’s behavior later on.

“We found that children whose fathers were more engaged in the interactions had better outcomes, with fewer subsequent behavioral problems,” said Dr. Paul Ramchandani, who led the study. The effect was observed to be stronger for males than for females, suggesting that boys could possibly be more vulnerable to the impact of their fathers from an early age.

[showmyads]Although Dr. Ramchandani went on to explain that he and his team were not certain if lack of interaction caused future behavioral troubles in children, he did highlight that the study supports the viewpoint that these early relationships are vital. They proposed numerous possible explanations for the link. For example, the researchers put forward the idea that a lack of involvement by fathers could echo greater troubles in family life, such as relationships problems with their partners. A second possibility is that the increase in behavioral disturbances could indicate a more general lack of supervision and care for the infant; and thirdly, it was suggested that the infant’s behavior is an expression of its effort to obtain parental feedback in response to lax parental engagement in the previous months.

“Focusing on the infant’s first few months is important as this is a crucial period for development and the infant is very susceptible to environmental influences, such as the quality of parental care and interaction,” Ramchandani claimed.

Parents and guardians worldwide can attest to the fact that child rearing is one of the most challenging yet rewarding responsibilities a person can have. This research gives additional evidence to the growing belief that active engagement early in a child’s life can aid parents in making an early positive impact on the infant’s development.

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