Breastfeeding babies and bonding with dad

Amanda - posted on 03/24/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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My son is 6 weeks old and lately, every time my husband holds him, my son cries constantly until I hold him again. How can we encourage daddy-baby bonding? Sometimes I really need a break! And, of course, my husband feels left out when the baby prefers me.

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Bridget - posted on 03/24/2009

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Every night, after my hubby had finished work, had a coffee, had dinner, and chilled out, I'd hand bubs to him after a feed (normally 7 or 8pm) and go to bed for an hour for a nap. If my daughter could see me, she prefered to be in my arms and looking at daddy, but without me there, with him taking care of her needs they built a lovely bond (and I got a nap before dealing with the nightshift).

Holli - posted on 03/24/2009

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I nursed my oldest until he was 20 months and am currently nursing my 9 1/2 month old. My oldest ALWAYS wanted mommy until he started to wean. He is now 3 1/2 and loves his daddy and always wants daddy.  It's hard right now, but things change. This is only for a season and before you know it he will want daddy so much you will be jealous!  You are doing the right thing nursing him. This time is soooo short, try and make the most of it.

Karen - posted on 03/24/2009

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I let my husband be the first one to hold my daughter when she was born (I have 2 older children and Avarielle is his 1st) and let him follow the nurses around and be at her every whim and he really enjoyed that. (we had talked about it before the actually event so we knew how it would be)  The 1st few weeks I would feed Avarielle then pass her off to my husband so he could bond with her too.  Also, at night we started putting her to bed with my husbands tshirt he had worn that day so she could get used to his smell (my husband works 3rd shift and we figured he'd not be able to spend a whole lot of time with her during the day)  As of this moment Avarielle is on the couch sleeping with my husband, so its worked.  The key, I think, is the early bonding.  It is still early, Amanda, be encouraging to your husband and don't let him give up.  That's another thing in the beginning....I sat close to my husband while he was holding Avarielle so she could see and know it was ok.

Rosanne - posted on 03/24/2009

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Trust me you're not alone. It's normal for a young baby to prefer mommy, my daughter was exactly the same and like you I worried about what it was doing to my husband and I ended up feeling trapped: How can I go anywhere or do anything for myself if I'm the only one that can comfort her. The thing I wish I'd figured out earlier is that if I wasn't around she was fine with her father.

We tend to take over, we hear them cry and we have to do something, it's only natural. But then Dad doesn't get the chance to learn how to do it himself and when we step in and take the baby he starts believing that he can't do it. So he gives up and we get frustrated because we can't get any help.

There is a chapter for dads in 'The Breastfeeding Book' by Dr. Sears that I found helpful, it made me understand that I had to step back a bit and let him figure out his own way to comfort her. Dr. Sears goes over some of the things that dad's can do to bond with their baby let wearing them in a carrier, or letting them snuggle against his bare chest, singing deeply so they can feel the vibrations (my husband went around singing 'Old Man River' and she actually did like it).

Before I had my daughter I had considered pumping so that her father could feed her but after being pressured to pump in the hospital and ending up with sever, painful engorgement and nipple trauma that lasted for weeks I just couldn't look at my pump, even the smell of it made me sick. So my baby never had a bottle and her dad never got to feed her. I felt bad about it, I thought that he was missing out, that maybe she'd be closer to him if he could feed her too. I don't think that anymore, today she's 9 months old and her father is the light of her life, no one can make her laugh like he can and when I need a break he can take over. Sometimes she just crawls up in his lap, lays her head down and goes to sleep, something she has never done with me (I have to nurse her to sleep).

Try to give them their own space to get to know each other and develop their own relationship apart from you. And remember that it's only natural that he wants mommy above everyone else right now, it gets better, it's gets easier. And expect bouts of what my husband calls 'mommy mode' when baby starts to teeth, isn't feeling well, or is over tired. Once your husband feels confident in his new role he won't feel as left out when baby asks for mommy.

Good Luck, hope this helps you feel better. And check out the book if you can it's a good positive resource for breastfeeding.

Allison - posted on 03/24/2009

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Try having dad wear him in a sling or wrap. Also, even though dads often don't like this, diaper changes are a very good time to bond. You can also have dad do the burping of baby during feeds when he's around. Nighttime is also a good time for dad to get involved - you get sleep and have dad monitor the baby (co-sleep, have baby in bassinet near his side, whatever). Then when baby wakes up to nurse, dad can bring baby to you, where you nurse and then return him to dad or just continue to co-sleep. This is what we've always done.

But even if that stuff doesn't work, let dad know it's nothing personal and babies go through periods of preferring one over the other, but it does switch. I worked full-time out of the home when my daughter was an infant and my husband stayed home with her. The only thing I could do with her when I was home was nurse. As soon as she was done, she wanted Daddy. I couldn't comfort her, or get her to sleep, or anything. She wanted Daddy. But over time we got more used to each other, and then she'd go through times where she only wanted me. Depends on their needs...but respecting those needs really do lead to children who are independent, confident and happy.

Good luck!

LaChelle - posted on 03/24/2009

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This is a very typical reaction of most breast fed babies. The thing is they spend 9+ months inside listening to moms heart and become so intimately bonded with mom even before birth, then breast feeding reinforces that bond. It is important to have dad hold the baby as father/baby bonding is equally important. Have dad hold the baby with the babies head on his chest so baby can hear his heartbeat. This will not only make the baby feel more secure but will allow baby to get to know dads scent and heart beat. Have dad and yourself be patient. It is very important for dad to be relaxed.. if he is tense about the experience so will baby. It is also a good idea to have dad change baby before feeding and cuddle after feeding so baby gets used to him being a part of his/her life/routine. My husband and I have 3 children that were all breast fed and it takes patience and practice to get through this stage. We have also helped many new moms/dads with this same subject. Best of luck, God Bless and congrats on the new little one.

Christine - posted on 03/24/2009

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Maybe you can pump and have dad give him a bottle if you are planing to introduce a bottle. Maybe you can have you husband do something else soothing like infant massage or a soothing bath or cuddle with no shirt on, so he is skin to skin with the baby. You son is little yet and may just want his mommy.

Michelle - posted on 03/24/2009

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If you find the answer to this one then let me know. My daughter is 16 weeks old now and still isnt happy in ayone elses arms but mine. Ive been told that this is pretty normal tho and when they start being more active they become alot more independant. My hubby feels the same, he thinks that our daughter hates him but i reckon its just a phase that they will soon grow out of. As for the break thing ive learnt to just do it. I get in the bath close the door and put some music on so that i cant here her moaning or i get my partner to take her for a walk in the pram. The more one and one time they have together the safer your son will feel alone with your husband. The way your son see's it is that your the only one who can care for him. He just needs to learn that dad can too, My daughter is gettin better now. Watch this space tho, in a few months time will be winging that they never want cuddles and only want Daddy. Ha!

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