The Importance of Father-Newborn Playtime for Both Baby and Dad

I want to share with my wife’s readers a few interesting bits of information on really awesome things that happen when Dads play with their newborns. I will share my resources and I encourage you to take a deep dive on their websites as well. Apparently, they have done research on this sort of thing and found out that babies whose fathers play with them from an early age experience a lot of benefits. Some that stay with them later in life. I had no idea! Dads also benefit from playtime in ways I almost guarantee they weren’t intending to and probably are not attributing the benefits to playtime.

There are so many different family dynamics and I know that not every baby grows up with the same parenting structure. I have expanded on that in some of my previous posts. I can only speak about our situation. My wife Alex and I got married in 2017 and we have Savannah in January of 2020 and we could not have been more thrilled! I have done a lot of research trying to prepare for my weekly blog post the past couple months and I have noticed that there is no where near the number of posts on Dads relationship with their children as there is on moms and there children. Which makes me think that Dads relationship with their baby can get overlooked.

Father’s relationship with their son or daughter can be imposed by their work. Alex has been a SAHM since Savannah was born. She is planning to work part time in the future, but she has been learning how to be a SAHM for about 7 months and that has been its own journey. For me, I would agree that there are certain difficulties that arise when I work all day and then I spend all evening with savannah. Work has its own demands that sometimes leak into personal time, etc., and then there are all the other commitments a person must consider. 

Because Alex and I write these blogs, we spend a lot of time researching. We are not experts, so we want to do our research and try to help parents with quality information. But I think most couples probably witness that each parent typically takes on their own dynamic with their little one. Again, every family is different. For Alex and me, she watches Savannah all day while I work. After work, I immediately pick her up and we start to play. My time with her is typically playful and full of laughter. I started to think one day that when she is with Alex, since that is all day, they probably do not play in the same way as I do. And I wondered if that was going to have any impact on how her. 

Importance for Newborns

Let’s talk about the benefits for the babies because that is why we are all here right… It’s okay, I totally get it. Well according to One Sky the first few years matter the most when it comes to brain development. And brain development sounds like a big deal. This article goes on to say the brain is the busiest it is ever going to be during the newborn-baby phase. Apparently, what REALLY helps is attentive care. This can simply mean looking at your baby and smiling which relieves babies stress, releases toxins, changes their hormones, etc. Playtime is another level. Playtime is typically very attentive with the parent’s focus being totally locked into baby for an extended period of time. Those brain neurons are firing like crazy! 

So, brain development, brain development is important, but maybe a little boring. So, what else? Playtime is going to help your child’s cognitive development. This is going to have an impact on all of their senses. So, touching different fun textures and tasting the different between yummy mangos and yucky spinach green goo. Perhaps laughing at a funny face or stinky smell. Of course, one obvious benefit if your daughter or son is going to feel a greater bond with you than if there wasn’t playtime. Playtime also helps with motor skills. Check out this website for more information and I will also have so much more below! 

Here is more info!

Importance for Dads

I want to first express my frustration with the limited amount of information there is for Dads compared to Moms in this online parenting community. Please do not get me wrong, there are a lot of awesome Dad bloggers in existence, I have checked them out. But there really is no comparison when it comes to the number of Moms in this community. I sincerely hope TheFoxandTheBee can help influence Dads to get involved and I am very grateful to my lovely wife for allowing me to be a part of her adventure. 

Here is an interesting article from Clayton News Daily from 2019 that gives some fun examples of how dads can play with their children. I saw some really fun ideas on this last that I hadn’t thought of before. It also talks about the importance of playing in ways beyond rough-housing. 

What I do

Alright, before we get into what the professions and the bloggers have to say, I want to share the ways that I currently paly with our little Savy Bee. When I get off work typically in the early evening, the first thing I do is come find Mom and Savannah. I have to admit that Savannah gets excited every time she sees someone she hasn’t seen in the last 10 minutes, but it still gets me every time when she clearly is ramped up just because I walked into the room. So I go pick her up and then we take off to go on some new adventure for the evening. 

We typically start by going upstairs or downstairs and standing in front of one of our body mirrors so she can see herself. She starts laughing and kicking and waving her arms all over the place when I put her up close to the mirror. I do this as long as I can but she is getting heavier and she really wears out her old dad. So depending on how tired I am we might go rest on our comfy shag rug Alex got that has become Savannah’s playroom or we might go sit outside for a little bit and watch the cars go by. She loves to sit outdoors as long as it isn’t too hot. We watch the cars and sometimes people will walk by. She always looks fascinated out there. 

Savannah is not easily amused though, and it is important that we change things up fairly often. I will sometimes sit on the couch with her and hold her up to the back of the couch so she can look out the window and I will put a book or a toy or sometimes just something Alex has as a decoration up there for her to play with. After we do that for a little bit, we might roll around on the ground. I have found that if I crawl around and sort of play peak-a-boo behind Alex’s poofs that she loses her mind with laughter!

About this time, we are getting ready for dinner. I want to say that sometimes I bring Savannah into the kitchen and help with dinner! But yes, always does make dinner more often than I do. After dinner we do diaper time which I know Alex has covered in a previous post I’m sure. I try to play with Savy during diaper time as well because she is typically in a better mood once she gets into just her diaper and it’s her last bit of energy before her bedtime routine. I am going to look into some of the ideas I have seen while creating this blog but I would also love to hear from all of you what your playtime ideas are too!

Research and Blogs on this Topic

According to Science Daily, fathers who interact more with their children in their first few months can show a positive correlation on their newborn’s cognitive development.

This article highlights a study done by researchers from Imperial College in London that found babies whose fathers were more engaged and active when playing with them in their initial months performed better in cognitive tests at two years of age. This article points out several interesting topics. It states it does not matter if Dad is playing with a son or daughter. Also, Dads got some nice side effects as well. 

Here is an article by Kidcentral tn called Fathers Play an Important Role in Child Development. The tn stands for Tennessee. Their findings come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They say dedicated and responsible fathers during infancy and early childhood may help contribute to emotional security, and improved math and verbal skills. This page breaks down how fathers can get involved before birth, infancy, early childhood, adolescence, and provides various tips for father involvement such as attending doctor’s appointments and just having fun with their son or daughter. 

The National shared The Importance of father-child bonding and in here are benefits for dad and baby. This article says fathers who are hand-on early and throughout their babies’ early years will be less stressed. It talks about how playing with their baby helps Dads become more attune to their babies, become more familiar with baby, their likes, and dislikes, and in doing so increases their confidence as a Dad. The article says that men can sometime have a unique style in the way they play with their child that boosts babies mental development significantly and also releases certain hormones in both Dad and babies brain that have really cool impacts. It says men are “rough and tumble” with their toddlers and sometimes encourage risk-taking behavior. It is just a totally different style of interacting and it has a big benefit when dealing with stress for Dads. 

Here is another article by Active Babies Smart Kids TV called Playing with dad: The role dads play in healthy development. 

This one gets a little technical but that is okay. I will try to summarize for you. The article says active play gives stimulation to important parts of the brain, the brain stem, and the cerebellum. Active play would be jumping, running around, climbing, or swinging, spinning, stuff like that. This helps infants and toddlers develop their balance functions inside their inner ear and give them practice with responding to gravity and different sensory information. This is all good for balance, coordination, and vision. I know Dad are just having fun with their little one but also, they are helping them develop some really important skills. 

What do you think? Do you agree with me? Tell me in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the benefits of playtime with Dad. There are so many articles out there with all the benefits. It really makes me happy to know that when Savannah and I are just goofing around and having fun, she is getting a lot of hidden benefits from it. Please let Alex and I know how you play with your little ones and if you have discovered any neat benefits! Also, if there is a topic you would like us to cover, let us know and we will try to do that for you. Thank you for reading and happy parenting!

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