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:


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:

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.

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.

To learn more about car seat safety visit:

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
Delaware Fatherhood Program

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

Feeding a 6-7 Month Old

Feed solids with a spoon and from a bowl, never from a bottle.

Feeding a 10-12 Month Old

Breast milk is the most important source of nutrition for your baby, even after you start offering solid foods.

Feeding a 8-9 Month Old

Feed solids with a spoon. Never put cereal in a bottle.


Breast milk and formula feeding:

Around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age, babies may experience a growth spurt when they feed more often.

As they grow babies can hold more milk, so feedings may become further apart and take less time.

To prevent choking, always hold your baby when feeding. Never prop up a bottle to feed.

Start offering whole milk when your baby is one year old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months and beyond.


Feeding solid foods:

Wait to offer solid foods until your baby:

To prevent choking, always hold your baby when feeding. Never prop up a bottle to feed.

Try one new food at a time. Wait 5 days before trying another new food to watch for allergies. Food allergies may include wheezing, rash, or diarrhea.

Introduce peanut butter around 6 months. Spread a small, thin smear of peanut butter or nut butter thinly on a cracker.  Watch your baby for any reaction for the next 2 hours.

Babies under one year should NOT have honey or foods that can cause choking like nuts or whole grapes.

All babies are different. Talk with WIC or your baby’s healthcare provider about your baby’s needs.

Feeding Cues

Feeding a 4-5 Month Old

Before teeth come in, wipe gums with a soft, clean wash cloth after each feeding, especially before bed.

Feeding a 0-3 Month Old

Newborns have tiny tummies and need to be fed often. In the first few weeks, you may need to wake your baby to feed if they sleep longer than 4 hours.

Growth Spurts

Many babies are fussy during a growth spurt and will want to nurse longer and more often. This is called cluster feeding. This is your baby’s way of helping you increase your milk supply so that you can keep up with their needs. Remember, the more your baby nurses, the more milk your body makes.

Growth spurts can happen at any time, and every baby is different.

They often happen at these ages:

2 to 3 Weeks

6 Weeks

3 Months

6 Months

What foods can I get?