Fatherhood and Health

  • Relationships affect our health and well-being, and one of the most important relationships is between a father and child.
  • Fathers who have strong relationships with their children can positively affect their children’s health and development across their lifetime.
  • Fathers can create strong relationships with their children by playing with them, talking with them and helping with homework.
Fatherhood is not just biological. You can also fill this role as a father of adopted children or to your partner’s children. All types of caring fathers are important in children’s lives.

Infancy and Childhood

Fathers play an important role in their children’s health and early development. They can:

  • Attend parenting classes, such as classes to support breastfeeding, which has many benefits for babies and nursing parents
  • Make sure children sleep safely by putting them to sleep alone in a bare crib on their backs
  • Take children to health care visits, including regular checkups and immunizations

To learn more, visit nyc.gov/health and search for early childhood health.

Involved fathers talk to and engage their children. Children with involved fathers have better verbal and learning skills than children with fathers who are not involved.


Fathers can positively affect their children’s health throughout adolescence. Teens with involved fathers:

  • Act out less in school and achieve more academically, which is linked to better health
  • Practice safer sex and are less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy
  • Experience lower rates of depression, homelessness, physical abuse and substance misuse
Childhood and adolescence can be stressful for the father and the child. To learn more about strategies for improving your family’s mental health, visit nyc.gov/health and search for mental health first aid.

Get Connected

Everyone can benefit from a little support. These services allow fathers to continue to be strong parents, partners and community supporters:

  • Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone (BFEZ): Offers community trainings so that breastfeeding becomes the norm. Visit nyc.gov/health and search for BFEZ.
  • Healthy Start Fatherhood Program: Helps Brooklyn fathers access job training and resources for readjusting after an absence, such as being away or in a correctional facility. Visit nyc.gov/health and search for Healthy Start Brooklyn.
  • Fatherhood Initiative (Department of Youth and Community Development): Offers parenting classes and job counseling. Visit nyc.gov and search for fatherhood initiative, or call 1-800-246-4646 for more information.