Health services should support fathers’ babycare skills

babycare singapore

A study of fathers of babies in Singapore looked for predictors of higher involvement by fathers in babycare 6 months after the birth. The strongest predictor was the degree of involvement 6 months earlier at the time of discharge of mother and baby from the hospital. For first time-fathers, two other predictors were found: how they rated their own “self-efficacy” (self-confidence in their role) and their wife in paid employment.

On this basis, the researchers recommend a focus on developing the skills of fathers in caring for a baby while the baby is at the hospital.

The study involved 201 fathers completing measures four times in the six months after the birth of their baby. The involvement measure involved rating 8 childcare activities from “entirely the mother’s responsibility’ to entirely the father’s.

Ratings of self-efficacy increased slightly during the six months, whilst involvement decreased slightly. The researchers suggest this may be because of paid work by the fathers, breastfeeding of the baby and the presence of considerable extended family support at this time.

The same researchers carried out a meta-synthesis of 13 studies from developed western countries (Sweden, Denmark, Canada and Australia), and from Chile, Tanzania and Singapore. They found similarities across cultures – how work constrains the caring roles of fathers, as well as the lack of knowledge and skills. The synthesis found that there are more pressures on fathers in Singapore than in developed countries – mothers are less supportive of fathers caring, there is more involvement of extended family, and there is a more patriarchal culture generally.


Shorey S, Ang L, Goh ECL & Gandhi M (2018), Factors influencing paternal involvement during infancy: A prospective longitudinal study, Journal of Advanced Nursing

Shorey S & Ang L (2019) Experiences, needs and perceptions of paternal involvement during the first year after their infants’ birth: A meta-synthesis, PLoS ONE 14.1

Photo: Claire. Creative Commons.