In this day and age, the role a father plays in raising kids extends far beyond bringing home the bacon / Getty Images

Want an intelligent baby? More time with dad could be the key

Fathers with a calm demeanour who actively engage with their babies can have a positive impact on their offspring’s intelligence, according to new research.

In this day and age, the role a father plays in raising kids extends far beyond bringing home the bacon or being a compelling figure of discipline. 

Instead, they’re expected to do their part and this new study proves that more father-child interaction could actually boost a child’s abilities later in life.

“The clear message for new fathers here is to get stuck in and play with your baby,” said study author Professor Paul Ramchandani, of Imperial College London.

“Even when they're really young playing and interacting with them can have a positive effect.”

More than a year after analysing how 128 fathers interacted with their three-month-old babies, researchers measured the infant’s cognitive development.

They also recorded videos of the dads playing with their children without toys and watched families during book-reading sessions when they had reached two-years-old.

At this age, the researchers scored the child’s development using a standard mental development index (MDI) which involves tasks such as recognising colours and shapes.

Here, they found a positive correlation between the amount of quality time fathers spent with their babies and the children’s test scores. 

A result which researchers say demonstrates the importance of father-baby interactions from a young age.

The results also revealed that dads with more positive outlooks and who are less anxious are more likely to have children who perform better on the MDI scales.

“For those fathers who are more engaged it may be that there is a lot more positive stuff going on in their lives generally,” added Professor Ramchandani.

“That might be the reason for the link, but we can't be sure of that. All we can say is that there is a signal here, and it seems to be an important one.

“The clear message for new fathers here is to get stuck in and play with your baby. 

“Even when they're really young playing and interacting with them can have a positive effect.”

That being said, there were a number of limitations in the study. While it does prove an interesting correlation between father-child interaction, the parents who were recruited were all drawn from a relatively well-education population.

In addition, the measure of interactions were taken from short videos which may not fully represent how fathers communicate with their children in other situations.

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