Breastfeeding: How can partner bond with baby?

My partner wants to be able to feed our daughter when she is born. I want him to as well because I think that it would be very good in helping them form a bond. You warn that using a bottle before four weeks might cause problems with nursing. I would hate to tell my partner that he has to wait a month before he can feed his own daughter. Should we just offer her a bottle of breastmilk and see if she has problems? Or should I have him feed her using a little cup?


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

There are so many ways your partner can bond with your new baby that don't involve feeding. Newborns benefit from lots of touching, holding and skin-to-skin contact. He can provide all of these. When he comes home from work, and you're tired after a day with the baby, he can give you some much needed relief. Dads often enjoy putting on the sling/baby carrier and taking the baby out for an evening walk (maybe as you rest or prepare dinner). He can give your baby a bath or take a bath with your little one. The warm water is relaxing for them both after a long day.

I can't recommend early bottle feeding. There are distinct problems associated with this practice.

  • Complementary feeds in the early weeks are associated with an early termination of the breastfeeding relationship.
  • They can reduce your milk supply at this critical time, just as it is becoming established. Since breastfeeding is a system of supply and demand,skipping a feed signals your body to produce less milk.
  • Early bottle feeding can contribute to engorgement, because it decreases the amount of time your baby spends at your breast. Unresolved engorgement may lead to a breast infection.
  • Suck confusion can make it difficult for your baby to breastfeed. He may refuse the breast totally. Though some babies seem to be able to go back and forth between breast and bottle, it is quite difficult for many, since it involves totally different movements of the tongue, jaw and mouth.

Alternative feeding methods of any type (such as cup feeding) should not be used in the early weeks unless warranted by your particular situation. Exclusive breastfeeding is best for you and your baby.

Your husband is very important in helping you to establish a good breastfeeding relationship with your baby. His understanding and support are vital to you. Before your baby is born, I would recommend taking a good breastfeeding class together. There you can learn the health and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. Your partner can be your best support person!

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