From Genes To Parenting: 10 Ways Dad Can Affect The Baby’s Development

It's super sweet to see a dad bonding with their baby and spending time just the two of them. Whether they're cuddling on the couch, putting them to sleep by reading them a story or taking them on errands to the grocery store, these are moments every spouse swoons over. There's something so special about a dad bonding with their little one.

Just like moms, there are actually several things that dads can do that can affect the baby (their lifestyle included) — both positively and negatively. Let's take a look at them below: read on to find out 10 ways that dad can affect the baby.

READ MORE: Newborn Helps Her Father Propose To Her Mother In The Cutest Way Possible

10. What He Eats

When a woman becomes pregnant, she'll most likely think more about what she's eating, and if it's healthy enough for the baby. However, as it turns out, what a dad eats can affect their little one, too.

According to WebMD, there is "research" that a guy's "lifestyle may have a significant effect on his children’s health -- well before they are born." They continue, "unhealthy habits cause changes to a man’s genes," and note that the science isn't really there yet because no one is sure why. In the case of what a dad is eating, the link seems to be between obesity in the father and the child.

READ MORE: Babies That Look Like Their Fathers Might Be Healthier

9. Stressful Father

Stress is unhealthy, there is no doubt about that. We hear about the dangers of stress time and time again. But did you know that if a dad is experiencing stress, that can affect the baby (and it will keep affecting the baby as they grow up)?

WebMD also notes that if a dad is super stressed out, that might lead to kids with "behavior problems." There hasn't been enough research to back this up thoroughly, however — at least not with human beings. There has been some research with mice, though, and as the publication says, "ongoing stress appeared to alter certain genes that were passed on to offspring in mice."

READ MORE: 20 Things All Dads Think During Labor

8. Good News

There is some good news when it comes to how a dad can affect their baby, though. According to Imperial.ac.uk, dads who are super hands-on and committed to being great parents to newborns can have a "positive impact" when it comes to their baby's mental development.

The website mentions research was done in England (a study that was published in the Infant Mental Health Journal) and discovered that if a dad was "engaged and active" at the beginning of a baby's life, they would score higher on cognitive tests when they reached 2 years old.

Now that's inspiring news to keep in mind when parenting a child.

READ MORE: 21 Rugged Names For Boys That Sporty Dads Will Love

7. A Father's Genes Are Stronger Than We Thought

Did you know that a father's genes might have a bigger impact on the baby than the mom's? As Inverse says, "dad genes tend to be really aggressive. Evolutionarily, a dad wants his babies to survive and thrive. That way, they’ll continue to pass on his genes, making him evolutionarily fit."

Does anyone else remember learning this in biology class?! Probably not, but when you become a parent you try to soak up as much information as possible. While a mother has a strong connection to her child, a dad isn't completely left out. After all, biologically, the baby is half theirs!

READ MORE: Real Men Wear Their Babies: Why We Need More Wrapping Dads

6. Folate And Fathers

We now know that what a dad eats can affect the baby, but there's actually one thing that he might need for a healthy baby. According to Paleo Leap, who mentioned a study done on male rats, whether a dad is getting enough folate could be a big deal for the baby and how healthy they turn out to be.

Essentially, the amount of folate could become apparent during conception because of something called "epigenetics": "Epigenetics is basically how your diet affects gene expression."

We definitely don't hear this on a regular basis, if at all, so it's really good to become more aware of this; especially if a couple is trying for a baby.

READ MORE: 20 Little Things Pregnant Women Do That Can Affect The Baby

5. Chill On The Booze

We now know that what a dad eats could affect the baby. Research is also pointing to the fact that if a dad drinks a lot, this could affect the baby, as well. After all, you don't need to be carrying the child to have a lasting effect. According to The Independent, "Paternal alcohol use can lead to decreased" size of newborns, plus "marked reduction in overall brain size and impaired cognitive function."

Since, of course, parents want their baby to be as healthy and happy as possible, we can all agree that cutting back on drinking is the best thing for dads (and moms, too, of course) to do before starting to think about having a baby.

READ MORE: Dwayne Johnson Gets A Daddy Makeover Thanks To His Baby Girl

4. A Dad's Sweet Voice

Something else that we should know about how a dad can affect the baby is their voice.

As Dad.info says, "Your baby starts to get to know you from before they are even born, while they are in the womb! By about 24 weeks, your baby can hear sounds from outside, and that includes your voice."

The process of a dad connecting with the baby starts even when the mom is pregnant, which is super cool to hear! The website continues saying, "Once your baby is born, when you talk to her, she will recognize and respond to your voice from the time she heard it during pregnancy." Awww.

READ MORE: 14 Celeb Moms With The Biggest Families (And 6 Celeb Dads)

3. Age Is More Than Just A Number

The dad's age can also affect the baby. As the Mayo Clinic says, "Researchers believe the increased risk of health conditions might be due to random genetic mutations" in the man's swimmers. These mutations tend to occur in older men who are trying for kids, rather than younger.

There are a few ways that the dad's age can affect the baby, and one of them is: "Advanced paternal age might be associated with a slightly higher risk of pregnancy loss before week 20 of pregnancy (miscarriage) or stillbirth." But the publication notes that these are tinier risks than the mom's age (when she's 40 or older), so that's something to keep in mind.

READ MORE: 20 Things That Dad Does During Pregnancy That Make Things Harder

2. Dad And Baby Time

We always talk about how moms "bond" with their newborns, but dads can, too!

Babble talks about how dads can affect the baby in terms of how totally and completely connected the two of them can be: "The Male Brain reveals that the combination of hormones, new brain circuitry, and physical touch enables dads to experience baby/daddy synchronicity as well."

It's comforting to hear that it's super crucial for a dad and baby to have this time together, and it's even more reason to celebrate the amazing dads who do so much for their families, always being there for them.

READ MORE: 20 Things All Dads Want To Say The First Month Post-Birth

1. Totally Attached

We know that it's good for dads to connect to their newborn babies, but it turns out that this can happen even earlier. Dad and babies can even connect when the mom is still pregnant, and there are some things that dads can do.

We've heard that it's good for dads to talk to their partner's baby bump, and here is another reason why: the baby will get attached to their dad when this happens. This is something that Bounty points out: "Dads should spend time talking to their babies" because once the baby is here, they will have "already formed an attachment to you." How sweet and adorable is that?!

SEE ALSO: 20 Adorable Pics Of Dads Teaching Their Kids To Cook

If You're Struggling With Conceiving, Here's Why You May Need To Take A Break

More in Did You Know...