A lot of dads can often feel useless, especially in the first year of baby’s life, and especially if baby is breastfed; You can count me among that lot. My daughter cries for her mother as I walk in the door from work to hug her. She’s always excited to see me….for about 10 minutes at a time. But those are the best little 10 minute chunks of my life, and I’ll do everything I can to turn those 10 minute chunks into 15, then 20 minute chunks and even entire hours at a time! Night time is papa time and those are our precious 3-4 hours a night during the work week.
Fatherhood, motherhood, parenthood, whatever you want to call it, teaches many valuable lessons, and one is sacrifice. My wife sacrifices quite a bit. She has dedicated the last year of her life to being a tiny human’s snack servant… whether it’s 1pm or 1 am. Which in turn, makes me my wife’s snack b*tch. At least during my waking, non-working hours. But it’s a job that I really don’t mind. In fact, I love it. In fact, I love to eat. In fact, I’m eating right now. As the husband of a breastfeeding mama, I just try my best to keep everyone happy on our little ship. Below, I’ve compiled a list of ways I’ve been able to bond with my breastfed daughter and things that I try and stay on top of while my daughter is busy preferring her mother to me.
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Change the Dirty Diapers
Always change dirty diapers! As my wife likes to say when my daughter poops after I get home, “Looks like a daddy diaper!”
Fill up Mom’s Water Bottle
Breastfeeding mothers are very thirsty. Get a decent water bottle like this one. Keep it full. All the time. In fact, it doesn’t matter what time it is, because again, breast feeding mothers are very thirsty.
Make Mom Food (and Sometimes Even Feed Her)
Breastfeeding mothers are as hungry as they are thirsty. Very hungry. Nothing against my wife, because I love her with all my heart, but she can get every bit as “hangry” as I do. This “hanger” (hunger + anger) will feed on itself viciously and can result in irrational behavior. MAKE MAD FOOD.
Help with Latch and Positioning
Newborn babies are small and often need help breastfeeding, and as a father, this will probably be the closest one gets to participating in the breastfeeding process. Every 20 minutes to an hour you will have to hold your baby’s head up and deliver pillows to your wife while she tries to position a hungry mouth onto her nipple. Take advantage of this stressful time to remember that it is all temporary and that you are doing it so you don’t have to shake a bottle at 3am everyday forever.
As soon as mom is done nursing, you can take over the burping, and mom can have a few minutes to herself and probably scarf down some food.
Wash Bottles & Pump Parts
Whether mom has to pump in those early days or if she goes back to work, it is extremely helpful for her if you wash all the parts.
Give Baby Baths
Bath time is daddy daughter time every other day right after dinner in our house! It’s probably the only thing I can do with my daughter without having her ask for her mother, LOL. We splash, we play, we laugh.
Kangaroo style! Babies thrive on skin-to-skin time, and furry Dad’s can be especially talented in this area. Having direct skin contact is a biological imperative for babies, and fathers can do every bit as mothers here. Skin-to-skin helps regulate baby’s body temperature, makes baby feel more secure, and allows baby to get to know dad’s scent and heartbeat. Plus, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Major plus.
Read to Baby
Read to your baby. Don’t overthink it. Read them anything. Read to them often. Never stop reading to them. Teach them to flip pages. My daughter flips pages with a seriousness unrivaled by others. It’s hilarious, so simple, and good for everyone.
Dance with your baby. Mom’s are gentle, and dad’s are adventurous. Doing a dumbed down version of the waltz with your 6 month old baby will impress them. Warning, this might make you tear up depending on what music you decide to dance to.
Play Music for Baby
Play music for your baby! And no, not that degenerate Katy Perry crap or whoever is on the radio now, or whatever venue people use to listen to music now. I’m old and don’t know or care what garbage en vogue music people listen to nowadays. I just play Beethoven and bluegrass for my little girl, and if were feeling edgy, we’ll listen to Beethoven redone in the heavy metal genre.
As fathers we can feel useless at times, but it doesn’t mean that we are! I hope this list helps you add to your repertoire of “Things dad can do to stay purposeful and bond with baby”. Now get out there and chase those little 10 minute chunks of bliss before your baby cries for Mama!
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