Nursing moms may feel like a 24-hour cafeteria — I know I did when I breastfed my babies — but nursing is a special bond that gives babies more than just nutrition. That said, there are many ways to nurture and bond — this is true especially for fathers. If your partner is wondering how to bond with Baby and not feel left out while you're exclusively breastfeeding, he can check out these tips from dads who have been there.
Make the most of bonding time with Baby
Jason Bahret says, "If I wasn't at work, I would try to be close so I could spend quality time with both children. I would also intentionally show affection to my wife and the boys while nursing so that I could be a small part of the process."
Shaun Gallagher bonded while baby wearing. "In my own case, I used a Baby Bjorn and other similar wearable baby carriers so that our sons would get some close contact with me," he explains. "I wouldn't say I was worried about being left out when they were exclusively nursing, but I certainly felt useless sometimes."
Mike Barnhill was able to bond by bringing his baby to work. He says, "Fortunately, being part of a small family-owned business, I was able to bond considerably with my nursing son by bringing him with me to work four days a week from the age of 4 months till about 1 year old."
Dad can introduce Baby's first bottle
At some point, whether you need a few hours of mommy time at the nail salon or return to work outside the home, Baby will be introduced to a bottle or cup. This is a huge opportunity for dads to take on a bigger role during feedings.
Barnhill says, "I was able to witness, at work, the first time he ever held a bottle on his own and many other special events."
Bonding at bedtime
Younger breastfed babies need to nurse at least every two hours — that's a lot of mama time in the evening and middle of the night — but also a great time for daddy bonding.
Gallagher says, "I would have liked to have taken care of more of the overnight wakeups, but generally, they just wanted Mommy. Although there wasn't much I could do in the short term, I've since made up for it by responding to more of the wakeups as they have gotten older, and by helping them learn to fall asleep independently."
There will be plenty of bonding time in Dad's future
Your partner may choose to breastfeed your baby for weeks, months, even years. As she grows, she'll nurse less often when she starts solid foods and becomes more active. Even when Baby is an infant, dads can bond. Barnhill says, "Being a dad is the best thing ever. I hope that all fathers get to bond with their child the way I did, maybe not at work, but somehow."
If your partner is still concerned about bonding with Baby while you breastfeed, he can heed Bahret's advice:
"Be supportive and focus on the importance of what breastfeeding does for your baby, and the bonding experience that occurs between Mother and Baby," he says. "Know that even though you aren't the star now, there will be plenty of Daddy time in the future."