While people usually associate nursing with moms, it doesn't mean dads can't take part in "comfort nursing," too. A 20-year-old dad made waves after he posted a video on Twitter last week of his baby daughter sucking on his nipple.
Posting as Daddy Duke, the dad was visibly surprised when his daughter latched on. She looked so comfortable "nursing" on her dad that she even started to fall asleep. At one point, Daddy Duke burst into laughter, which startled her, but after he gently apologized, the baby continued to suck.
"Baby girl was OBVIOUSLY confused," he wrote. The video has gotten almost 5 million views since it was posted last week, so it's no surprise that although some viewers immediately got the point of comfort nursing, others were calling the act "disturbing" or even a form of "child abuse."
But comfort nursing really isn't as weird as they think. Babies breastfeed (or sometimes even dry nurse when their moms' milk supply is low) to feel safe and reassured, to fall asleep or even to feel connected to their parent. Nipple confusion, which some viewers were worried about, also most likely won't be an issue when babies are past their first few weeks of life.
“Although some men (and women) may find this both weird and uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with it,” women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider told Yahoo Lifestyle. "Babies have a sucking reflex and will suck on many different things in order to soothe themselves. Many doctors recommend a clean pinky finger to fathers, but if the baby latched on to the dad’s nipple, so be it."
Like the effects of a pacifier or a pinky finger, sucking can be a calming experience for babies. It also doesn't hurt that it's one way to promote important skin-to-skin contact between Dad and Baby. It's really a cultural barrier that stops more men from helping with comfort nursing.
Hey, just ask the men in the African Aka Pygmy tribe, who have no qualms minding the children and dry nursing them (even when they go down to their version of the pub) while the women hunt. Anthropologist Barry Hewlett, who was the first to spot this male "breastfeeding" among the Aka, called them "the best dads in the world."
More dads in the U.S., though, are slowly catching on to the idea (and getting creative about it). A Wisconsin dad agreed to "breastfeed" his baby shirtless with a fake nipple shield, feeding tube, syringe and formula when his wife had seizures. And a New York dad MacGyvered a fake boob to soothe his baby (he cut a hole in his shirt and slipped a bottle through it) when his wife was at work.
So, dads, the next time your baby starts getting fussy, just know that you too have ways to nip it in the bud.