Dads & Breastfeeding Babies

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated August 6, 2013.

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1150787_10103463127706250_814534659_nDads are a vital part of breastfeeding.  Without their love, compassion, support, and encouragement a mother’s ability to nurse their new baby is not only more challenging, but will many times fail entirely.  However, many first-time fathers may feel insecure in their new role as the mother and baby seem to get all the attention; he finds it challenging to bond with his child who seems to spend most of her time breastfeeding; he feels helpless during breastfeeding; and/or he struggles with the idea of his wife’s breasts either exposed or full of milk.

2013-08-06 21.21.32All of these feelings can be normal emotions!  But, there are so many ways for a new father to not only bond with his baby but help his partner with breastfeeding.  Focusing on these things can make breastfeeding a wonderful relationship for all three of you.  It will also provide your baby with all the antibodies, immune defenses, and life-saving properties in a mother’s rich, creamy, organic, free, perfectly prepared, always-ready, delicious, amazing milk.

Here are 10 ways for dads to bond with their breastfeeding babies (and help the new mom too!):

  1. Positioning
    Breastfeeding is normal and natural, but it’s not always easy.  The number one reason that moms feel pain during breastfeeding is due to poor positioning and attachment of the baby at the breast.  A new mom may be flooded with emotions and stress, but dads are usually able to pay close attention to breastfeeding help given after the birth and are a tremendous source of help in getting the baby at the breast correctly.  Breastfeeding is new for both mom and baby and they often need support; there is no better person to help make sure baby is properly positioned than dad!
  2. Diaper changes
    IMG_7989 editNewborns nurse frequently; they also make lots and lots of wet and dirty diapers.  Mom is usually tired in the first weeks of motherhood and having someone who helps with (or takes over) diaper changes is a huge blessing!  Not only does it help mom but it is also a great way to bond with your little one.  Babies need to feel love and security, be fed, and be changed.  If dad takes over this responsibility your new baby will learn to look to dad to fulfill this need.
  3. Bringing baby to mom/burping afterwards
    Though mom is the only person who can breastfeed your new baby, bringing him to mom, helping him get positioned correctly, and then burping him afterwards are great ways to help mom and spend lots of quality time with your baby.
  4. 1150375_10103463101324120_177252421_nWear baby in sling
    Newborns love to be held and, despite what some “experts” might assert, you cannot spoil your baby by holding him too much.  In fact, sometimes your baby is fussy not because he’s hungry but because he wants to be held close to his parent’s heart.  Tucking your baby in a sling or wrap to help him fall asleep (or just feel your touch) is a great way to bond with your baby.
  5. Give her a bath
    Baths can be fun and relaxing times for your baby that she looks forward to.  And this is a great way for dads to bond with their babies.  In fact, water is so relaxing that you could even take a bath together and hold your baby skin-to-skin!
  6. Baby massage
    This is another great technique to calm, relax, and bond together.  Learn how to gently massage your baby and do it frequently – even every day!
  7. 1011505_10103463127676310_1126405870_nRock your baby
    Babies love movement.  Perhaps because they were in their mother’s womb for nine months and gently swayed in the amniotic fluid as she went about her day, babies continue to enjoy gentle movements once they are born.  Rocking your baby in a chair or gently gliding around the floor with your baby in your arms are wonderful calming and bonding techniques.
  8. Read books together
    Get some board books, cloth books, and bath time books and read them with your baby often.  Their attention span might be extremely short in the beginning but the stories will become familiar and they will love the feeling of curling up with dad and reading books even as they grow older.
  9. Sing
    Sing funny songs, made up songs, nursery rhymes, praise songs, prayers, and more.  Babies love sound and are not only calmed by singing they will get to know your songs and, as they grow, begin to sing them with you.  Then, one day, you might even hear them singing these songs to their little ones…
  10. Go for walks
    What can be better than some fresh air, a gentle breeze, warm sunshine, falling leaves, or even bundling up in the cold and going for a walk?  This is another great way for babies to feel movement, have a change of scenery, and feel the outdoors – which can do everyone a world of good.  Whether you tuck your newborn in a wrap/sling or put him in a stroller, take lots of walks together.
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