Breastfeeding Babies and “Babysitting” Dads

Dad and Baby
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Preface Note

This article is for ladies in general, but specifically other Moms, whether previously or currently breastfeeding babies. I am sure that what follows are things that we all have experienced in one form or another, or heard said about “babysitting” dads. But if not, it will give you some food for thought and good discussion material. Ready?

Mothers to Mothers About Breastfeeding Babies

Breastfeeding is making a comeback, and has been for the past several decades. Yet a lot of misconceptions, myths, and misinformation still remain out there that people accept as facts. Regardless of that, everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different. Deep down, we all want our fellow women to encourage and accept us matter what our journey looks like. We should all do the same for other mothers, supporting and lifting each other up.

The Discouraging Conversation

I say this because I had a conversation with a kind, well-meaning mother who breastfed all her children. We got to talking about birth, nursing, etc.

In the course of the discussion, I mentioned that I had to throw the whole “nurse every two hours” out the window. My little one was hungry much more often than that! She replied that I should put my baby on a nursing schedule of every 2 hours to make it more convenient. I said that I didn’t mind nursing her more often. That, and I didn’t want to risk her weaning too early if I tried to train her to be on a two-hour feeding schedule. She shrugged.

I added that it also wouldn’t work out because she also likes to be nursed to sleep. Then she got alarmed. “Oh, don’t do that! That will make her dependent. She won’t want to stop nursing if she doesn’t learn to sleep on her own!” I smiled with a lift of my shoulders. “Oh, I plan on nursing her till she is two at the least, so I’m not concerned about that.” She frowned and changed the subject.

Mom and Breastfeeding Baby

I will be honest, that whole conversation was discouraging. Yes, I am well aware of the widely believed myth that if you nurse your baby to sleep, they’ll have difficulty learning to fall asleep on their own. Whether due to a mother believing that or personal preference, I see no problem with the choice. If a mother decides that she wants or needs her baby on a two-hour feeding schedule, I support her doing what fits her family.

I don’t judge others breastfeeding journeys, nor do I think that they should all be the same. What works for one, won’t work for another. Ladies, regardless of our opinions about breastfeeding, we shouldn’t be discouraging, or making each other feel like we are doing it wrong. If we don’t think it should be that way because that’s not the way we did it, we need to pause. It helps to remind ourselves that we are not in that family,  in order to be more understanding . We all desperately need to encouragement and support, even if we don’t appear that way on the outside.

The Encouraging Conversation

The end of the story is better. Soon after I had that conversation, I was talking to another mom. She asked me how breastfeeding was going. I told her the same thing I told the first mom. Even though this lady had some similarities to my methods, her way still differed from mine. But even as she shared what she had done with breastfeeding, she supported and encouraged me. Ah! A breath of fresh air! I was so happy and refreshed. That’s what we need to be doing ladies!

Breastfeeding babies takes enough commitment and effort, that we don’t need to be adding to the challenges. Let’s think about and remember that so when the opportunity arises, we lift each other up!

“Babysitting” Dads?

A Dad NOT Babysitting his Children

The issue I am going to discuss is an underlying problem of society’s perspective. And that’s the idea that men, due to lacking the “mothering instinct”, are somehow inept and incompetent in the care, handling, or comforting of their children.

This whole mentality can be summed up in the phrase that moms say when the children aren’t with them. “Oh, my husband/their Dad is babysitting them today.” Ummm…what? Here’s a little fun fact. If you look up the definition of babysitting in the dictionary, it means: care of the child/children while the parents are out. {emphasis mine}. Now does that “babysitting Dads” phrase people throw around make sense now? Then why are moms (and some Dads, even!) saying it at all?

The answer is because of this subconscious belief, pushed by Hollywood and society, that has twisted our thinking. I have no idea where it came from either. When did it go from dads raising, parenting, fathering, and investing time in their children to babysitting them?

“Schooling” the Dad

The example I am about to describe below is how a kind, middle-aged Mom with the best of intentions perpetuated this idea. This event kick started me realizing the need to bring it to light.

My husband and I were at a get-together for a dinner with some friends. He was changing the baby while I was getting food. Our little one was getting  fussy, and he was holding and comforting her, so I could eat. She has definite preferences on what positions she likes to be in, and whether she likes us to rock, sway, bounce, jiggle, hug her, etc. What works one day in one situation won’t work the next. She’d been crying for a couple of minutes, and he was trying different positions and soothing techniques to comfort and calm her till I was finished eating.

The lady I introduced above got up without warning, and comes at my husband. She held her arms out and took the baby from him, saying, “Come here little one. Come here.” Our hostess explained, before I could protest this intrusion that this lady was the mother of twelve children and a midwife for 30 years. I decided against causing a scene.

Then, this well-meaning lady proceeded to school my husband on how to hold his own baby. She verbally detailed the demonstration on how to “jiggle and sway” the baby. The lady was holding our little one out from her body, with two hands, in an upright position, which would have not been a long-term solution, since the baby needed sleep. To her credit, she stopped crying, but adopted her wide-eyed “what’s going on” face.

After properly instructing my husband, the lady handed her back. He got up and went out to the kitchen to get some food. Very early on in her infancy he became rather adept at doing tasks one handed. Another lady took the baby from him and tried to soothe her because she started crying again. I continued to eat my meal in silence, but, ladies, I’ll admit, I was seething.

Yes, she meant well. But only because she thought that my husband did not know, after 7 weeks of fatherhood, how to comfort his own baby. While it is true that she had 12 of her own, and was a midwife for 30 years, our daughter was not any of the babies she delivered, nor was she one of her own children. This mom left an indelible impression that she thought that my husband was inept and that she needed to teach him because of her presumed experience. That, and in her mind, he, having no mothering instincts, wasn’t able to soothe our daughter.

Here is the big question that we all should ask ourselves. Where did we get the idea that it’s OK that a long-time Mom, after 7 minutes, thought she knew better what our baby needed than a dad, who has fathered his own daughter for 7 weeks?

Letting Mom Be the Mom

A Crying Baby

When I was through eating, I tried  to comfort our little girl, by putting her in the baby carrier and rocking her. After about five minutes I realized that she was too tired and worked up to calm down and go to sleep without nursing. I took her out of the baby carrier and nursed her.

In all that time, with the same situation and difficulty to get her to calm down, neither lady tried to give me suggestions, school me, take the baby from me, or assume I was incompetent. And, frankly that made me more upset. It merely confirmed my original impression.

I would have been far more congenial and accepting if they had done the same with me. They would have been truly trying to be fair and equally helpful to both of us. But that wasn’t the case. They only targeted the man with their well-meaning help, suggestions, and demonstrations. This, ladies, is a PROBLEM. And it’s a big one.

Underlying Assumptions About “Babysitting” Dads

When the baby continued to cry with him, they assumed incompetence, and ignorance. When she continued to cry for me, they assumed that I hadn’t given her the level of comfort that she needed yet for how upset she was. But I knew what to do and would eventually do what she needed. Either that or they assumed the baby was too fussy to respond well.

What do you assume when you see a screaming fussy baby in the arms of the Dad? That he doesn’t know what he’s doing and that it’s his fault? What do you assume when you see a screaming, fussy baby in the arms of the Mom? That she knows what she is doing or can’t do what she needs to yet? That it’s the baby’s issue because the little one isn’t responding or is too worked up?

Society as a whole has this all wrong. And it affects the way we think about fathers and men in general. Hollywood doesn’t help in their bumbling, foolish portrayals of dads. But regardless, there’s NO excuse for this whole mindset. I found it offensive, as we all should. My husband and I had a conversation in the car on the way home from the dinner, and we realized that we both felt she assumed his ineptness and incompetence, and we were upset that she made him look ignorant in front of everyone. It was an angering, embarrassing, and humiliating situation, and we need to put a stop to it.

The Truth of the Matter

A Father Holding and Hugging his Son

Ladies, unless men refuse to be part of their children’s lives, they are not ignorant or incompetent! I know of one lady who told me that for her firstborn, her husband changed every diaper for the two weeks postpartum that he took off work. She freaked out his first day back, because she didn’t know how to do it, and she had to figure it out!

How about my husband, on multiple occasions, being able to figure out why our baby girl was crying before me; or developing his own ways of holding and comforting her that work when mine don’t sometimes. Or how about the fact that he is completely in step with me, learning with me how to best care for our daughter? He has, in certain situations, had to tell me what to do!

Why can’t society at large assume that this is the norm? Why can’t people stop secretly judging the Dad that the baby is still fussy? There’s something seriously wrong with how we consciously or subconsciously view men and fathers, and it needs to change. They don’t need to be criticized, schooled, or shown how to do it. They know how already, because they learned right along with their wife how to comfort their baby and what the little one responds to. How about we make it our goal to change the assumption to that one?


In closing, I would like to clarify I am not angry or resentful towards people or the people involved. I am angry and incensed at the perspectives and assumptions that they and society have towards men and fathers. We can change it, but we have to discuss it as a problem first. Let’s start talking about it; laying it out in the open, and exposing it for how wrong and humiliating and degrading it is. Who knows? Hollywood may eventually get their act together with how they portray fathers if enough people have made a difference in their assumptions and perspectives and call for change. Let’s do it together.

If you want to read more articles on family, check out the “Family” page on this blog at .

For more information and resources on parenting and breastfeeding, visit .

About Post Author

Amber Goodrich

I am a sojourner and adventurer through life, with plenty of inspiring thoughts to share! My journey has taken me through the United States Army as a Medic, transitioned me to the National Guard. On the civilian side of the ride, I am a Licensed Massage Therapist, wife and mother. Most recently I have started a new chapter as a budding freelance writer with the goal of expanding my horizons to write short stories and books. I look forward to traversing this path and seeing what it has in store!
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1 Timothy 6:18

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