When our daughter, Avery, was born, I instantly transformed into a new man. Not that I was a bad one to begin with, but now I was “Dad”; small word with an enormous meaning! I was ready to start playing the first day we brought Avery home, but my wife kept me it check and let me know I must have patience.
But when it comes to playing, patience is one thing I lack. I waited 9 months to see our precious girl and now I have to wait even longer before we can play? Absurd.
At that time, I was preparing to leave my current job to become a stay-at-home dad, so I had to make sure I had an active playmate! I did whatever I could with our newborn daughter as long as it was safe. For the first few weeks, this just meant holding her and singing while I swayed around the house. I played peek-a-boo and tried tickling her, but was only met with an empty stare.
Now she’s 6 months old and full of personality, and I’m getting a hang of my role as a stay-at-home dad. I used to think of playing with my daughter as just something parents do, but it turns out that it has a profound influence all the way into adulthood!
The role of a father in general, influences a child’s emotions, as well as their social and academic behavior. Since playtime with daddy usually means more “rough-housing” (safely, of course), this helps your child learn to regulate emotions and even control aggression. And, for all fathers with daughters, being active and involved in her life will help your princess grow up to have a healthy relationship with and more positive opinion of men.
I don’t want my sweetheart finding some ill-meaning guy years from now, so I am making it a point to be a positive and fun father figure! In addition to all of this, an active and engaging father increases the likelihood that their children will have better vocal skills and achieve higher scores in school. So, how can a father ensure they are active and nurturing for their child? With play!
Playtime with your baby doesn’t have to be complicated, just talking to them and telling them about their surroundings is a great start. Your baby, like mine, may not look like they are getting any of what you say, but they are absorbing everything. For one thing, they are getting to know your voice, recognize their daddy’s face, and even your touch.
I found that using toys from The Manhattan Toy Company has truly helped me create ways to play, engage, and teach Avery at the same time. I enjoy using their Skwish Stix and Winkel products to teach Avery the primary colors and about different shapes and sizes.Skwish Stix are great for when Avery is sitting in her booster seat since they have a suction cup base. She loves pulling and stretching the contraption and watching it snap back into its original position. By naming the shapes and colors for her, Avery is getting comfortable with daddy’s voice and learning at the same time.
The Winkel is perfect for a teething baby since it can be chilled for them to chew and soothe their painful gums. When Avery is chewing on a certain loop, I let her know what color she is chewing on. Also, we are currently working on teaching her to crawl, so I’ll place the Winkel just a little out of her reach to encourage her to move towards it. So far she just scoots her way there, but that’s part of the learning process.
When she’s older, I look forward to taking her to the playground to run around and I’ll be sure to run around with her, not sit and watch.
Reading to Avery is something we’re already doing and plays a major role in your child’s development. The Manhattan Toy Company has many fun and educational books for babies including activity books like Where’s the Bone?. I hope to get this one for Avery soon!