Dad's guide to A Healthy Child

Dear Dad,

You play an important role in the growth of your child’s body and mind.

Whether you see your children daily or live in a different home, being actively involved in your child’s life makes a big difference. Being present and involved will help them grow to be a healthier, happier, and more successful child and adult.

The quality of your father-child time is more important than the number of hours you spend with your child. The quality of your relationship directly impacts your child’s sense of self-worth.

Children who grow up with an involved father are:

A Plus


more likely to earn mostly A’s in school




as likely to go to college and find a steady job after high school

Don’t compare yourself to your dad or other dads around you. YOU are the one your child looks up to!

Help Me Learn

Children learn by watching their parents. Children who have a father actively involved in their daily learning are more likely to be:
A parent is a child’s first teacher. You may not realize it, but you are teaching your child by the simple things you do every day.
You can help your child learn by:

Keep screen time to a minimum to focus on each other.

Whether you are encouraging imagination play or reading to them, simply being together helps your child feel calmer and happier.

Children who grow up with an involved father are 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school.

Play Time

Children learn when they play. Dads typically have a different style of play than moms, and that is okay!
Dads tend to encourage more physical play which teaches children how to:

Being active with your child helps their bones grow stronger, build muscles, and helps brain development.

Here are a few fun activities to do with your child:

Let's Eat

Feeding young children is a hard job. Being present at the dinner table is easy. Having dad present at mealtime is important to a child.

Mealtime is a great time to learn more about your child. Ask your child about their day, their friends, and how they are feeling. This shows your child that you care about them and that they are worthy of your time and attention.

Here are some things you can do to make memories at mealtimes.

When fathers are present or involved, children are at


lower risk of developing obesity.

Protect Those Shiny New Teeth

Dental health is just as important as physical health. Be active in keeping your child’s teeth healthy.

Health and Safety

Once a child gets moving, it can seem like they never stop. Your child learns how to do more things every day. This means you may need to work even harder to keep them safe.

Watch your child closely to keep them safe when they are around water.

Car Seats

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that car seats are only used for traveling purposes. It is recommended to remove the infant from their car seat once you arrive at your destination, especially if they are asleep.

– Straps should be snug.
– The sliding clip should be at armpit level.
– The car seat itself should move very little when pushed from side-to-side.

To learn more about car seat safety visit:

Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old. Do not rush to move to a forward-facing car seat or booster seat even if you have a large child.

Never seat children in front of an airbag. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag.

Fatherhood Resources


National Fatherhood Initiative
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

Check for fatherhood initiative programs at your local Head Start program or school system.


Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: