For dads

As most men who are fathers have already figured out, fatherhood is a role that demands your body, heart and mind. While the changes that a woman undergoes during pregnancy, birth, and as a new mother are very visible, people often forget that men also go through changes on their journey to becoming dads. Some men may gain weight, others may experience increased stress about their family's financial situation, others may worry about the health of their wife and baby, and still others assume increased responsibilities for other children and household tasks.

Many health messages that are given to pregnant and new mothers also can apply to dads. Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, managing stress, not smoking, not drinking alcohol, and reaching out for support to family and friends is good for mothers AND for fathers.

You might also benefit from spending time with other men who you consider to be great dads. Sometimes talking with someone who has experienced the same challenges and situations can be very helpful.

And another very important step for men is to make the time to talk with their partner about their thoughts about the number of children they want to have in their lives. Just because many of the family planning methods are used by women, doesn't mean that men shouldn't understand how they work and play a role in supporting successful contraception. Remember, plans for the number of children families wish to have may change over time so nothing is set in stone. But staying on the same page as your partner on this one is important.

Finally, remember that you can play a major part in your children’s lives even if you can’t see them every day. And being a dad or helping raise kids doesn’t take a special degree in child development or lots of money. It takes open communication, a willingness to set limits, and lots of love.

Here are just a few ways you can help your kids grow healthy and strong:

  • Make sure your child has routine doctor visits. Learn which vaccines are recommended.
  • Encourage kids to be active at least one hour each day. Children need activities that raise their heart rates and that strengthen muscles and bones. Get active with your child for health — and fun!
  • Don’t smoke around children. Kids’ growing bodies are especially at risk from smoke.
  • Emphasize good nutrition. Model healthy eating, and help kids learn what foods to choose.
  • Keep kids safe. Make sure they are restrained correctly with car seats and seatbelts. Make sure they wear helmets when riding bikes or similar activities.
  • Teach young people about healthy relationships. Talk about ways to avoid violence and to treat others with respect.

Some content courtesy of the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The original content can be found at http://womenshealth.gov/mens/specific-groups/fathers.cfm. 

Revised: June 6, 2011

This web site is designed for informational use only; it is not designed to give advice, diagnose, cure or treat any medical condition you may have. If you have any questions about your health, please contact your health care provider.