As more than 80 countries prepare to mark Father’s Day later this month, children’s charity Unicef has released a series of heartwarming photos showing men bonding with their newborn babies.
In a bid to encourage fathers across the world to play a more active role in their children’s early years, world-renowned photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas travelled with Unicef to five diverse countries – Guinea-Bissau, Mexico, Thailand, Turkmenistan and the UK.
Capturing the fathers’ earliest moments with their newborns in delivery rooms across the globe, Zehbrauskas’s poignant images showcased the range of emotions experienced by men in the hours following the birth of their children.
The photos include a close-up of the hands of Jim Cherrett as he reaches through an incubator to stroke the skin of six-week-old daughter Piper, who was born premature at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
Another of Supidej Jaithon, from Chiang Mai in Thailand, shows the new father smiling at his newborn son, Matt, who was born a few hours earlier.
Meanwhile, Rogelio Cruz Barrera, from Mexico, kisses the head of one of his twins, a baby girl named Ximena, who was born prematurely.
Zehbrauskas’s series is part of a larger Unicef campaign called #EarlyMomentsMatter, which portrays the lifelong effects of early childhood experiences and environments on children’s brain development.
In light of research, which proves that a parent’s role is essential in a child’s early cognitive development, Unicef is calling for governments, employers and members of society to break down the barriers that deprive fathers of precious time with their young children.
According to Unicef, advances in neuroscience have found that when children spend their earliest years of life – particularly their first 1,000 days – in a nurturing and stimulating environment, their brains can form as many as one million new neural connections every second – optimal speed.
This determines a child’s cognitive ability, their health and happiness, how they learn and think, their ability to deal with stress, and their ability to form relationships.
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