In our series of ‘New Dads’ posts we delve into some of the most popular things men think about, or want to know more about when becoming a dad. From changing nappies to feeding we have tried to provide some support for men to feel more comfortable navigating parenthood. This post contains advice for feeding your baby.
New dads have often never fed a new baby, and this can be a daunting task. Here we cover some helpful tips for however you feed your baby.
Breast Or Bottle?
How you feed your baby is a personal choice for you and your partner. Whether your baby is solely breastfed, has formula, or a mixture of both is a choice you should make based on what is best for parents, and baby. If you’re not sure about the best way to feed your baby, ask your midwife or health visitor for some advice.
How Can You Support When Baby is Breastfed?
If a baby is breastfed, dads can feel a little out of the loop and useless. But, there is plenty you can do to support feeding your baby while they’re being breastfed.
Your role when breastfeeding can be as simply as making sure mum has everything they need. Make sure your partner has a drink in easy reach, a snack if it’s a meal time. It may sound silly but cutting up their food and having it close by so that they can still eat, may win you some brownie points. Also, having a burping cloth, or muslin to hand is helpful for when baby has finished feeding. Or even better, you can burp your baby after mum has finished feeding. We talk about this more below.
You can be in charge of making sure mum has clean breast pads for when the feed is finished, and any barrier creams mum might be using, such as lansinoh. Consider taking over nappy changing responsibilities so that mum can get ready for the feed while you change your baby’s nappy.
Breastfeeding can be difficult for some people, and having a supportive partner there makes all the difference. Your role is one of champion here – offer verbal encouragement and physical support. And if your partner is struggling with breastfeeding, ask for support from your midwife.
Feeding Your Baby – Sharing the load
Some baby’s will take a mixture of breast and bottle. Whether that is expressed breast milk, or formula, bottle feeding gives you a chance to support mum even more. If baby will take a bottle, here are some tips for feeding:
- Change Baby’s Nappy – A baby will be much happier having a feed with a clean nappy. If your baby’s nappy is wet or soiled make sure you change them before a feed.
- Get Comfy – Some baby’s feed quickly, others take their time. However your baby feeds, it is important that you’re comfortable before you start feeding to ensure you don’t interrupt their feed. Sit in a chair, or on the sofa, and get comfy. Grab a pillow to help support baby if you need on.
- Positioning Baby and Bottle – Hold your baby in a semi-upright position for bottle feeds. Support their head so they can breathe and swallow comfortably. Brush the teat against your baby’s lips and when they open their mouth wide let them draw in the teat. Keep the bottle in a horizontal position (just slightly tipped). This will allow the milk to flow steadily and help prevent your baby from taking in air.
- What Do I Do Now – While your baby feeds you should try to make eye contact with them, and talk to them in a soft, soothing tone. Or try singing a song, or repeating nursery rhymes. This is an important part of feeding your baby. It really helps to strengthen the bond you have with them.
- How Much Should They Feed – Your baby will know how much milk they need. Some want to feed more often than others. If your baby is refusing the bottle after a short period, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal. Just follow your baby’s lead. It can be helpful to make a note of how much, and how often, baby is feeding. This can help keep track of whether baby may be hungry next time they’re crying!
- What Not To Do – Never leave your baby unattended with a propped up bottle. This is a choking hazard.
After Feeding Your Baby
After feeding your baby will need to be winded. Sit them on your lap, supporting under their chin with one hand, or put them on your shoulder. Gently, but firmly, pat baby on the back, or rub in firm circles, until they bring up some wind. Some baby’s burp easily, others hold onto their wind and don’t give it up! It is important to wind baby well otherwise they may end up with trapped wind. Trapped wind can be very uncomfortable and lead to tears. And part of your goal as a new dad is to make your baby as comfortable as possible.
Baby’s are often sleepy when they have had a feed. Think of how you feel after a meal when the “food coma” starts”; So after feeding is an ideal time for cuddles with you. Talk soothingly to your baby after a feed while you cuddle them, and they’ll probably be sleeping soundly in no time!
Listen To Lloyd Talk About Sharing the Feeding with his partner
Lloyd is a member of the Dadvengers Community and father of twins. Listen as he talks about sharing the feeding with his partner as much as possible. It’s great to see that his kids enjoy it so much, and with twins it’s interesting to hear how different they are when it comes to feeding.
This video is part of a series that Dadvengers produced in collaboration with Best Beginnings to sit on the Baby Buddy app
More Help for New Dads
If you enjoyed reading this ‘Advice For Bath Time’ blog post or if would like more support as a new father we have a couple of suggestions.
- Firstly You might want to check out the other posts in our New Dads Support series. The series is still very new but it’s growing all the time and will become a useful and informative hub for New dads.
- Secondly you should try the Baby Buddy App. Designed for new parents, it gives dad specific prompts on a daily basis up until your child 1st birthday. For more detailed information read ‘What is Baby Buddy 2.0‘. Or download the app now and start using it. It should help alleviate some of those new dad worries.
- Finally, Have a Listen to the Dadvengers Podcast . The Dadvengers Podcast is a great way to be inspired by the experiences of other dads. Hosted by Dadvengers founder Nigel Clarke each episode hears a well known dad talk about his journey. The ups and downs, the highs and the lows. Showing us that we all go through the same things, and all we can do as fathers is be the best we can be. We hope you enjoy listening.