All Babies Count: the Dad Project How to support dads during pregnancy and the first year

Man and a baby sat playing on a grassThe NSPCC has been working with dads to look at how to support them during pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life. We want to promote their emotional wellbeing, strengthen their relationships and help them to achieve better outcomes for their families.

The Dad Project involved dads, mums and the people that work with them in innovative ways to look at how to improve information, advice and support for new dads.

This report presents findings from NSPCC and Design Council research undertaken during the Dad Project and shares what we learnt from parents, practitioners, commissioners and academics about how to better engage dads in antenatal and postnatal care (together known as perinatal care). It highlights why involving dads is so important in giving children the best possible start in life.

Author: Sally Hogg
Published: 2014

Our top ten tips for anyone working with parents before and after a baby is born

  • Think of dads as service users in their own right, not only as mums’ supporters. Know, record and use dads’ names.
  • Learn about the research around the psychological and social elements of both mums’ and dads’ experiences of pregnancy and new parenthood. Educate yourself about the challenges they can face.
  • Ensure your communications, workspaces and materials communicate that dads are equally valuable and welcome.
  • Reflect on and challenge your own assumptions and stereotypes about fathers. Seek feedback from dads about their experience of your service.
  • Help mums and dads to understand each other’s experiences of pregnancy and new parenthood. Show them concrete ways in which they can help each other.
  • Talk to mums and dads about the challenges of new parenthood so they know what to expect. In every contact, ask both parents how they are doing, and listen and respond respectfully to their answers.
  • Teach mums and dads how to care for a baby (for example bathing and nappy changing). Specifically encourage and acknowledge dads’ involvement in caring for their baby when speaking to the family.
  • Utilise scans as an opportunity to help both parents to engage in the pregnancy and get to know their baby. Ensure dads are explicitly invited to the scan and acknowledged when they are there.
  • Teach mums and dads about babies’ early cues and encourage them to watch and interact with their baby.
  • Consider how you can facilitate conversations between mums and dads, dads and dads, and wider families and communities to help create supportive networks around new parents.
Introduction 2
Top tips 3
Background 4
Why do dads matter? 6
Laying strong foundations 7
Men of steel? 9
A theory of change 10
Where is it going wrong? 11
Where's the daddy? 13
What's in a name? 15
An idea: a letter from your midwife 16
Hard to reach? 18
How to reach? 19
What I really want to know is... 20
Confidence leads to involvement 22
Scanning for opportunities 23
Baby led 25
It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it... 27
A little more conversation 29
Digital solution? 30
Using mum as a gateway 32
Conclusion 33
References 35

Please cite as: Hogg, S. (2014) All Babies CounttheDad Project. [London]: NSPCC.

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