As human beings, we hope and pray that some things are natural. Automatic, even. Like assuming everyone loves puppies and cares for the planet and smiles on that first warm spring day of the year. I mean, aren’t these just givens? Well, how about a father loving and bonding with his baby? Obviously we want to believe that’s true, and I think (and hope) it happens most of the time when a child enters this world. But a study conducted at Binghamton University in New York concludes that babies who look more like their dads are actually healthier, because they receive more affection from them. And that extra affection ultimately impacts the babies’ health.
So why does it matter if the baby looks like dad? Well, according to the Fragile Family and Child Wellbeing study, seeing a resemblance subconsciously ensures the baby is actually Dad’s, making him naturally want to spend more time bonding with his child. In fact, the study found that “the dads who resemble their babies spent an average of 2.5 more days a month with the infants than others.”
As Solomon Polachek, a study coauthor and economics professor at Binghamton University, told Business Insider:
“The main explanation is that frequent father visits allow for greater parental time for care-giving and supervision, and for information gathering about child health and economic needs. It’s been said that ‘it takes a village’ but my coauthor, Marlon Tracey, and I find that having an involved father certainly helps.”
Listen, I know it’s easier for Mom to know the baby is hers (and by “easier” I mean having our lady bits and/or stomach ripped open to retrieve said baby). So I guess in some circumstances, the father may question his role. But man do I hope that’s rare. I hope that in most cases, Dad falls in love with his child from the minute he holds him, whether he’s got Dad’s dark brown locks or Mom’s rosy cheeks. And that if there are questions about the father of a child, those issues are addressed well before what is supposed to be a joyous and precious time.
I guess the good part of these findings, however, is that they promote bonding time between the fathers and babies — since it’s clear that this special time does affect the baby’s well-being. The study reveals that the babies who got more attention from their fathers had “significantly more favorable health conditions”, such as being less likely to have to go to the ER, spend time in the hospital, or have asthma attacks.
Honestly, I cannot imagine a scenario in which a dad doesn’t instantly want to bond with his child. My kids all resemble my husband in various ways, and my last is pretty much his clone. But I doubt he’d have hesitated to scoop up and snuggle our baby, even if a giraffe came out of there. But, if you’re a dad, and you’re not feeling that natural bond, you may want to check out what this study says.
In the end, here’s the most important takeaway: Dads, snuggle your babies. Their bond with Mom is important, but it’s going to happen naturally anyway. They lived inside her for 9 months and now, especially if she’s breastfeeding, she’s getting in that extra bonding time in a multitude of ways. But your bond is crucial too, even if it takes a bit of extra work. Your child will feel loved, connected, and at least according to this study, healthier, if he sees your face more often. So get ready to up your patty-cake game! Your child is depending on it.