5 Best Ways For New Dads to Get Involved — And Stay Involved — With Their Kids From the Start

5 Best Ways For New Dads to Get Involved — And Stay Involved — With Their Kids From the Start

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Unfortunately, dads aren’t always seen as being as crucial to infants’ lives as their mothers are. But luckily for dads who want to be there for (almost) every bedtime, every giggle and burp, there are numerous ways to get involved in their kids’ lives from the very start — and remain a fixture forever. Because, aside from a father’s selfish desire to hold his giggling bambino all day, research shows a father’s love and presence has different beneficial effects from a mother’s.

1. Establish A Daddy Bedtime Routine

Especially until they graduate from toddler-dom, kids often ask for mommy to put them to bed. Fair enough, but that shouldn’t happen every night, because neither you nor your kid want to get in the habit of shunning dad from bedtime. Starting from infancy, instate a routine where dad puts the kids to bed two to three nights a week. Get started ASAP, because you’ve got years of books to read them, stories to spook them with and tales of your adventurous life to impress them with.

2. Go Nuts On Their Bedroom

Don’t stop at putting the crib together and painting the nursery. Get crazy with it. Install a baby rock climbing wall. Populate it with near-life-size Pixar characters. Make it the magnum opus of your model train-building career. It’ll be a while before they can thank you with their own words, but when they can, you’ll both be glad you did it.

3. It’s Not Just About Diapers

Diaper changing isn’t the only opportunity to be a hands-on dad. Dressing, changing, bathing and settling are perfect opportunities to establish presence and convey caring and affection (also to you partner, with whom you’ll win points for granting them some off-duty time).

4. Play Physical

It’ll be a few years before you can roughhouse with your baby. But it’s never too soon to get physical during play time. Research has shown that kids learn different skills from a father than a mother during play, like what kinds of things are off-limits (biting, hair-pulling) and how to take safe risks.

5. Let Your Bond Grow Over Time

It’s not your fault, or your baby’s, if your bond isn’t immediately magnetic. It might be, or it might not. Both are natural, and if your kid doesn’t automatically see the benefit of having a dad as amazing as yourself, just wait. Eventually, they’ll come to realize that life isn’t only about mom, milk and mushy foods. And as long as you don’t get frustrated or disappointed in the time it takes for that to happen, you can fall for each other any time.

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Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.