How Dads Can Engage With Their Daughters: Infants and Toddlers

Being involved and engaged in your daughter’s life starts early! Even though it might seem like babies don’t notice much of what is happening around them, the bond between a baby and her parents starts to form very early on. Make sure that you as her dad are as much a part of the bonding process as other caregivers are. Here are some ways to engage with your daughter when she is an infant:

Snuggle her often – babies love to be held and to feel close to their parents
Skin-to-skin time – this is just as helpful for dads to do as it is for moms and reduces a baby’s amount of crying
Attend well-baby check-up appointments with the pediatrician to be sure you hear the doctor’s advice and get answers to any of your questions
Talk to your daughter! She recognizes your voice and loves to hear it. Narrate what you are doing with her. Talking to babies more encourages their language development.
Make funny faces at her – very young babies can imitate the expressions they see.
• As she gets old enough to laugh, be silly!
Help with daily care routines such as feeding, bath, and bedtime.
Sit on the floor and play – infants love to play. Narrate what you see her doing to help keep you both focused on her actions.

Once your daughter enters toddlerhood, everything changes. She will be on the go, and she will enjoy many new things. Here are some ways to engage with your daughter when she is a toddler:

Make up songs that include your daughter’s name – the sillier the better!
Continue to talk to her and narrate what she does in her play – she will love to feel special and know that you are focused on her.
Practice nursery rhymes, finger plays, and fun songs with your daughter.
Play chase – an all-time toddler favorite!
Make sure your daughter is exposed to a variety of foods, and avoid communicating that certain foods are “bad” – just focus on being healthy and incorporating as many types of food as possible.
• Older toddlers (approaching 3 years old) will begin to remember and repeat what they hear about others and themselves. Try to use positive, kind words when talking about your daughter’s body so that she will feel good about herself from an early age.
• Similarly, avoid negative talk about the way that other people look, including family members and yourself. Your daughter is hearing and absorbing everything.