If a daddy wants to get involved with feeding the baby then of course the only option is bottle feeding and so if a baby is solely breast fed it can lead to us feeling a little left out. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting that breast milk or breast feeding be abandoned as I of course think if a mummy is able to, then breast milk is really important, but in order to let daddy have that closeness with baby it can be nice to be able to feed them too.
With both our boys my wife fed for 12 months, but we, from very early on (about 6 weeks) combined breast feeding with her expressing milk and me bottle feeding. We also topped up with formula with our eldest as he had reflux and wasn’t gaining weight quickly enough. I found this to be a great experience and a real way of making a difference and being part of caring for our newborns. There were real advantages to me bottle feeding the babies for both me and my wife. For me it meant a bonding opportunity and for my wife it meant a few minutes to herself each day. I would especially recommend doing the late night or dream feed as babies are even more cute than normal then and it means that mummy can go to bed early in preparation for her nightshift.
Your baby will soon start to realise when its time for you to feed them as their eyes light up when they see the bottle in the same way that they do when they see a breast!
So now to my top tips…
Each baby is different and even my two boys needed to be held differently and are soothed by different things, but there are a few things I have found when bottle feeding (these are all tips for nighttime/ bedtime feeding as this is when I do it most) that seem to make it a great experience for both you and baby:
- I suggest getting a comfy chair next to their cot so that as soon as you finish feeding them you can transfer them to their bed.
- Tempting as it is to sit and cuddle them off to sleep after their bottle I have learnt it is really important to not let them get used to sleeping on you. Believe me you will live to regret those extra cuddles when as toddlers they still expect to be lying on top of you in order to get off to sleep!
- Keep baby at around 45 degrees as it seems to help milk go down and reduce wind if they aren’t completely lying down. This is especially important if they have reflux
- Hold them securely and close to your body so that they feel that skin to skin contact from your arms (you can go the whole hog and be shirtless, but this wasn’t comfortable for me)
- Watch baby closely and look for signs that they are taking in too much milk or getting wind for example; trickles of milk from corner of their mouth, opening eyes and looking concerned, pulling their knees up or suddenly lots of wriggling. if you see this slowly stop feeding the baby and sit them up. I find just rubbing the back from bottom to top does the trick.
- If you have decided to give baby a dummy then have this ready to be given as soon as milk is finished.
I really think that getting involved in bottle feeding your baby as a daddy is one of the best ways to develop that special bond with your newborn. It gives your own time with the baby, but I recommend this with a health warning attached:
You will become the one that always has to do bedtime!
Our 3 year old still won’t accept anyone putting him to bed except me once he knows I am home. Having said that this time has become my favourite part of the day. It is also my excuse to get away from it all and even grab a quick nap myself whilst he is going off to sleep without any complaining that I am not fixing that leaky tap or doing one of the other myriad of jobs that need doing in our house. It is a time each day for quiet, relaxation and enjoying being with my boys.