Dads not immune to the power of the love hormone

By Shayna Brouker • Published: May 8th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The “love hormone” isn’t just for mom and babies — the hormone oxytocin helps new dads bond with their little ones too, according to a new study.

Researchers from Emory University found that when they sprayed a bit of the naturally occurring stuff in dads’ noses and then had them look at pictures of their toddlers, they showed increased brain activity in areas linked to reward and empathy.

The study, published online in the journal Hormones and Behavior, isn’t the first to highlight oxytocin’s role in bonding, but it lends more evidence to the idea that when dads have a hands-on approach to raising their children, children are less likely to die or be lonely, and their social, mental and educational development is boosted.

It could also help dads who face postpartum depression. Other ways dad can bond with a little one start before he or she is even born. Singing or reading to a baby in utero can help a newborn recognize the tone and pattern of dad’s voice, too.

Going with your partner to doctor appointments and childbirth and breastfeeding classes will pave the way for involvement later on. Get used to being around babies by hanging out with new dad friends. Once the big day arrives, get valuable know-how from nurses on how to swaddle, burp and bathe a baby — and yes, how to change diapers.

Skin-to-skin contact is critical. Lay your diapered baby on your chest and soothe your child with the fall and rise of your breathing. Large hands are great for swaddling babies, too. You can also take on bedtime as your designated duty. Mom, baby and you will benefit from the helping hand — and the strong bond that results.