Increasing father involvement in the care of their infant using text messages: The DadRocks study
Studies have shown that interventions aimed at the transition to fatherhood can have benefits to fathers. Yet there are few studies specifically designed for fathers at their transition to parenthood, despite fathers having asked for resources specifically tailored for them. DadRocks is a minimalist (i.e., low-cost) intervention that uses text messages to address fathers as they transition to fatherhood. DadRocks has been successfully piloted with Vietnamese fathers, but not in a Western sample of fathers. In our pilot of DadRocks with Canadian fathers, SMS messages were sent to seventeen fathers 3-5 times a week. Messages provided developmentally appropriate information such as games to play with their infants, milestones to observe and links to credible websites for information. Fathers who had more positive attitudes towards father-infant relationship reported significantly more father-infant interaction. Father-infant interaction, especially play, increased between baseline, three months and six months. Fathers who reported more engagement with the messages had significantly more positive attitude and more affectionate behavior. First-time fathers felt most supported by the texts. Fathers with greater anxiety also reported using more recommended resources. Fathers generally liked the intervention, and provided suggestions for future messages. Our pilot data support the development of a more comprehensive experimental study of DadRocks. with a large community sample that could help determine the extent to which this low-cost intervention can improve father-infant relationships. Overall, our data suggest that text messages may be a lost-cost way to communicate with fathers in ways that promote and support positive paternal care.