Babies who bond early with fathers grow up happier

London: Babies whose fathers bond with them positively at an early age are more calmer and happier when they turn one, a new study led by an Indian origin researcher has found.

Boys, in particular, benefit from a strong paternal influence as early as when they are three months old, the `Daily Mail` reported.

Behavioural problems in early childhood often lead to health and psychological problems in adulthood which can be difficult to overcome, said Dr Paul Ramchandani in the Oxford study.

Most research on how parents affect a baby`s behaviour and development has focused on mothers, while as fathers play an important role too.

The research team recruited 192 families from maternity units. Experts filmed the mothers and fathers separately as they played with their children at home in different situations, looking at how caring or engaged they were.

The parents did psychological tests, while the children`s behaviour was assessed examining whether they were fretful, disobedient, had tantrums or in the worst cases showed aggression by hitting and biting.

"We found that children whose fathers were more engaged in the interactions had better outcomes, with fewer subsequent behavioural problems," said Ramchandani.

On the other hand, children tended to have greater behavioural problems when their fathers were more remote and lost in their own thoughts, or when their fathers interacted less with them.

"This 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," Ramchandani added.

The study is published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.