With bottles and breast pumps, there’s no reason you can’t take a full part in feeding your baby. And why wouldn’t you, it’s a magical moment.
In the first days and weeks dads get away lightly when it comes to feeding the baby. We just don’t have the equipment. If your partner is breastfeeding, well, we can only hope she’s considerate enough to do the late night feeds in the spare room. Us men do need our beauty sleep.
This happy situation will not last, however. Some mums cannot breastfeed at all or can’t for long. Others decide against it. Eventually, even breastfeeding mums discover the secrets of expressing milk and keeping it to be bottle fed later. At which point it’s time for dads to step up to the plate.
With that in mind, here’s a primer on the intricacies of feeding infants. Oh, and a few ways in which ingenious dads have managed to hack the process.
Get the equipment
Not that equipment, that’s beyond us. But even if your partner is breastfeeding, at some time she may stop, and at some point she may want to use a pump to express milk so you can take over the night feed from time to time. You’ll need bottles, teats and a bottle brush at the very least. You can buy more sophisticated baby feeding systems so check out what might be best for you. But don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune if you don’t want to.
Support your partner
Even while your partner is breastfeeding you can still take part by supporting the process. In the early days, help the baby latch on and help mum find the most comfortable position for breastfeeding. Take the baby off her when he or she is full and burp it. Burping means putting him or her over your shoulder, face down on your lap or sitting on your thigh facing away, and gently patting its back or gently rubbing anti-clockwise (don’t forget to support your baby’s head). This almost invariably ends in a satisfying burp (from the baby, not you).
Master the feed
At some point it will be time for you to take over. The best piece of advice is to hold your baby as you would if you were breastfeeding it, cradled tightly to your body. Your baby loves the feeling of being close, cosy and safe during breastfeeding, and will feel right at home if you mimic that hold and position.
While your baby is feeding, sing to them, chat or read out loud. We’d say smile, but as your baby happily guzzles and stares into your eyes, you probably won’t be able to help yourself grinning from ear to ear.
If at first you don’t succeed…
A baby who has been breastfed since birth might take some time taking to a bottle. The feel is different, and the content might be too if you’re moving from breast milk to formula. Try different teats and even move into different rooms. Your baby will take to it eventually.
Enjoy feeding times
A happily feeding baby is a priceless moment in your life as a dad. Don’t miss it. Put your phone away, turn the TV off, and stay in the moment to enjoy this shared ten minutes of contentment. The crying will start again soon enough. In the meantime, use it as a time to bond with your beautiful baby.
We’ve been through the basics, but some dads always like to find ways to make things easier for themselves. As this lot prove…
(Don’t try this at home though – you should never prop a baby bottle)
It’s her, honest!
Night feeds can make you a little absent minded
We all need a drink
Multitasking? No problem.