One of the most common phrases I hear from new mums and dads is, “I have expressed some breastmilk so my husband can feed the baby sometimes. So he can bond with the baby.” Who came up with this?! Where did this idea come from that the only way to bond with your baby is through bottle feeding?! I don’t get it!
(Just a side note…I am using the word “dad” but I know that there are of course women in lesbian relationships or relationships with someone who is not the actual “dad” to the baby. I am not excluding you! It is for the ease of writing this article that I have used the term dad. I say the word “dad” about five hundred times per day…Where is your dad? What is dad doing? I need your dad!)
I completely understand how dads sometimes feel on the outs. When your baby is hungry, he wants boob. When your baby is cranky, he wants boob. When your baby is tired, he wants boob. When your baby is bored, he wants boob…and so on and so on. It is a continual, “honey, the baby wants you!” for the first few months. Dads can feel completely helpless, wanting to do something to help but knowing that really the only thing the baby wants is….boob! There are many reasons for the frequent feeding during the early weeks and months. Frequent feeds leads to a healthy milk supply, increased milk for growth spurts or fighting an illness that the baby has been exposed to. Frequent feeds also allow the baby to get a hang of the whole boobing situation as it is new to them as well. Giving the baby free access to the boob is important for all of these reasons. So what can a dad do instead of making up a bottle of expressed breastmilk or formula? What are some other ways dads can bond with their babies?
Here are some ideas…
1. The much needed baby calmer. As awesome as boob is, it does not work all the time! Sometimes when we offer, our babies refuse and just need some cuddles from someone who doesn’t smell like old breastmilk, spit up or baby poop. A partner can be the magical answer. I remember how my husband and I had to pass our baby back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until eventually he would breastfeed and fall asleep…he literally saved my sanity and got lots of cuddles with our little one at the same time!
2. The much needed night time helper. Dads can be a huge help in the middle of the night as you wake up for the millionth time, have a baby who has exploded poo everywhere and a mum who is crying from lack of sleep and leaking boobs. Dads can help change nappies, get you some water, change your baby’s clothes etc.
3. The much needed baby carrier. I love seeing a dad out and about with baby in a baby carrier. Yes us mums love being close to our babies but we breastfeed A LOT and sometimes we need our space! There are many times I asked my husband to carry our baby; when I was hot, cranky, “touched out” and just needed a break! He has spent lots of time carrying and cuddling our babies over the years.
4. Baby Bath/ Shower Time. Dads can shower with their babies or give them a bath (which kids LOVE). And I loved the extra ten minutes it gave me to go to the toilet by myself without my newborn baby staring up at me from his bouncy seat…
5. Play! I’ll be totally honest here…I am a real girly girl. (Please don’t comment on how I’m being sexist. Yes some boys dance ballet and love make up. Yes some girls love wrestling and shooting each other with Nerf guns. I know!) I danced ballet for many years, love makeup and dressing up and am really not into sports…I have three boys! Three “BOY” boys. They love sports, wrestling, farting, burping, running around the house while shooting each other with Nerf guns, throwing balls around the house constantly, wrestling, farting, yelling and wrestling…oh yes, and playing Lego. My husband also loves to wrestle, throw balls around, shoot the kids with Nerf guns, throw them around like they are on a carnival ride etc. etc….if I say farting as well he might give me the, “Megan I can’t believe you wrote that on your blog” look…I also know many dads who will play endless games of make believe, tea parties and doll playing. My dad used to play games with my sister and I, my mother exclusively breastfed both of us yet we have an awesome relationship and bond with our father.
6. Your Baby Will Get Bored Of You Sometimes… do I have some research to back this outrageous claim up…no. 😀 But ask any mother and they will tell you how sometimes your baby/toddler/child will get so excited when your partner comes to the door you will think your child actually hates being with your during the day and would much rather hang out with dad! It’s almost as if they are saying, “Dad! Dad! Yay! You are home! I am so bored! I am so bored!”
7. Sleep With Your Baby…Click here for guidelines on safe co-sleeping.
8. Dance with your baby. Even if you are the worlds WORST dancer, your baby won’t care!
9. Take your baby for a bit of a walk around the neighborhood. Babies and toddlers, OK EVERYONE (unless you are my friend from NYC who loves to be inside and pasty white with low vitamin D levels) actually loves being outside. Sometimes a walk outside with your baby will chill them out like nothing else…well nothing else besides boob of course.
10. Read and Sing To Your Baby…
Here is a pic of my awesome husband. I took this picture just last night. Mini The Milk WOULD NOT SLEEP. No amount of boob and me carrying him around would put him to sleep…what worked? Dad, Ergo Baby carrier and the guitar…
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