A rise in the hormones prolactin and oxytocin, known as the “cuddle chemical”, in new dads has been linked to their ability to bond with their new baby and to be a good father.
Both hormones are thought to help mums bond with their new babies but this is the first study that has suggested they also play an important role in a dad’s relationship with his newborn.
“These hormones seem to have a powerful role in helping men bond with their newly-born children,” said Professor Ruth Feldman, who worked on the study. Her team measured hormone levels in new dads in the first six months after their child’s birth. They were then filmed playing with and cuddling their children. A clear link was found between their ability to bond with their child and higher levels of these hormones.
The researchers suggested these hormones rewire men’s brains in the months after becoming a dad, preparing them for the task ahead.