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17th Feb 2023

Why it is so important for dads to have skin-to-skin with their babies


Dads should also have skin-to-skin contact.

Most mums will be told how important it is to engage in skin-to-skin contact with their newborns and reminded that the practice has a whole list of positive benefits, for both mums and babies alike.

But now a study has highlighted just how important it is for new dads to also have skin-to-skin with their babies. In fact, so important is the hormonal boost dads will get from this contact, that it could end up having a huge impact on how they parent and how they care for their babies.

According to Science Daily, a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame looked at how dads’ biology around the time of their children’s birth affects their parenting. The researchers analysed testosterone and cortisol in 298 men on the first two days of their newborns’ lives, and the results are impressive.

The study, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, found that dads with elevated cortisol levels while holding their infants, such as during skin-to-skin, were more likely to be involved with caring for and playing with their infants during the first months of their lives.

Nurses at Memorial Hospital collected saliva samples from the fathers roughly an hour after their children’s birth in order to gauge their hormone levels. While the hospital is not directly connected to the hospital, the nurses told Science Daily that they were glad to participate, as the study is in line with their beliefs about the importance of skin-to-skin.

In similar research, Dr. Nils Bergman examined the importance of skin-to-skin for fathers. And his findings, presented at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, suggested that kangaroo care actually rewires dads’ brains. In fact, just 30 minutes of skin-to-skin time with their babies causes a rise other important hormones: dopamine and oxytocin, according to Baby Belly. These hormonal changes create a positive association with close interaction with their babies in fathers’ brains. Therefore, skin-to-skin could help fathers kickstart their parenting instincts.