Fathers who lovingly bond with their babies in the first months of their lives have a good influence on their later behaviour, a study has shown.
Researchers watched dads interacting with their infants at three months and then assessed the same babies’ behaviour at twelve months.
They found that babies whose dads were more engaged at three months had fewer problems when assessed at twelve months.
But babies with remote or distant dads were more likely to have behavioural problems when they reached the age of one.
The report referred to research showing that the “roots of enduring behavioural problems often lie in early life, and the trajectories of behavioural problems often extend back into the preschool years”.
Dr Paul Ramchandani, who led the research, said: “We found children whose fathers were more engaged had better outcomes.”
He added: “At the other end of the scale, children tended to have greater behavioural problems when their fathers were more remote and lost in their own thoughts or when their father interacted less with them.
“The association tended to be stronger for boys than for girls, suggesting that perhaps boys are more susceptible to the influence of their father from a very early age.”
The study of 192 families was published in the journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Last month a study emerged showing that a father’s love is just as, if not more, important to a child’s emotional development as its mother’s.
Children who did not have a loving father present were more likely to be insecure, hostile and aggressive, researchers said.
According to researchers, children feeling accepted by their fathers was linked to factors such as emotional stability, a positive world view and less hostility.