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Breastfeeding Overview

Infant Feeding and Fathers

A new father can bottle-feed even a breast-fed baby.
A new father can bottle-feed even a breast-fed baby.
Publications International, Ltd.

Research has shown that fathers can influence the diets of their families in some very important ways. In one study, 89 percent of mothers served infrequently or eliminated from the family diet entirely the foods the fathers disliked.

In another study, 81 percent of mothers surveyed planned meals based on the food preferences of the fathers. As a result of such studies, nutritionists now urge fathers to recognize the important effect their food tastes have on the nutritional well-being of their families.


Your food preferences and dietary habits are the first important way you are involved in feeding. You have an essential role in achieving a nutritious, age-appropriate diet for your baby.

During pregnancy, you and the baby's mother probably discussed how to feed your baby -- by breast or bottle. If the two of you decided breastfeeding was the best choice, your unswerving support during the time your baby is breast-fed is crucial.

If you chose to bottle-feed, your acquiring knowledge about formula preparation and healthy feeding practices is necessary and valuable. Perhaps you and the baby's mother chose to breastfeed first and bottle-feed later or to combine the two feeding methods. In any case, your support and involvement with feeding your baby will help your baby and give pleasure to you.

If your baby is breast-fed, you obviously cannot directly provide milk for your baby, although you can give him bottles of expressed milk if there are times when it is inconvenient or impossible for your partner to breastfeed. There are other important ways you can be helpful during feedings. You can bring your baby to his mother for night feedings and then tuck him back in bed later. You can burp the baby after feedings and take the opportunity to enjoy the quiet but alert time he has after feeding.

Many breastfeeding mothers experience sore nipples, fatigue, and doubts about milk supply. Your encouragement and nurturing help are important. In fact, one study has demonstrated a relationship between the father's support of breastfeeding and its success or failure.

Another important way you can help is to teach other family members about breastfeeding, so they understand and support this method of feeding. In the past, less was known about the benefits of breastfeeding than is known today, and feeding practices were different.

If your baby is bottle-fed, you can help by actively sharing the feedings with his mother. Make it your responsibility to mix formula in the proper way and to ensure the feeding equipment is clean and functioning well.

Always hold your baby when you feed him. He will begin to trust that you love him and are able to satisfy his needs. To provide for normal eye muscle development, hold him sometimes in your right arm and sometimes in your left. Hold him so his head is slightly elevated. Feeding in a flat position is associated with greater risk of middle ear infections.

Discontinue feeding your baby when he indicates he is through. Burp him during and after feedings. The frequency of burping depends on how much air he seems to swallow.

Whether your baby is breast- or bottle-fed, you can help by keeping feeding times calm. Run interference with the doorbell and the telephone. Anything you do to reduce tension is beneficial.

When your baby is ready for table foods, you can be involved in many ways. You can help by making mealtimes pleasant. Tension during feedings diminishes appetite and disturbs digestion. Make an effort to indicate pleasure with the variety of foods you offer your baby even if the food does not appeal to you. As tempting as it might be, avoid using food as a reward for good behavior or a special accomplishment.

Never offer your baby junk food or alcohol. Neither is part of a nutritious diet, and each replaces the foods your baby does need for growth and health. In addition, even small amounts of alcohol can be toxic to a young child.

Your involvement with your child's mealtimes is important. You can have a significant effect on your baby's health, and your relationship benefits from the time you spend together.

The decision to breastfeed is ultimately a personal choice that the parents will make by themselves. In fact, you might find that you cannot make a final decision until you have tried breastfeeding after the delivery. Hopefully, the information in this article will help you make this choice.

About the consultant:

Alvin Eden, M.D.: Alvin Eden, M.D. serves as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Weil Medical College of Cornell University in New York, New York. He is Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Eden is also the author of a number of child care book, including Positive Parenting and Growing Up Thin.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.


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