Dry nursing is one of many ways parents comfort their babies
A Twitter video has conjured up some pretty big opinions from people on both sides of the fence about a little talked about topic (that’s apparently very divisive in nature): Fathers comfort nursing their babies.
Twitter user Daddy Duke showed his infant daughter dry nursing on his nipple, something that initially appears to happen by accident. “Baby girl was OBVIOUSLY confused,” he captioned the video. When he notices, Duke laughs which startles her briefly. “Oops! I’m sorry,” he says and she goes on happily about her business.
After he posted the video, people came out in droves to offer their opinions, both positive and negative:
For the record, regardless if you feel comfortable with it or not (not that it really matters because it’s not your baby), this is most certainly not child abuse. When infants are in the “sucking” phase of their development, “they will be just as content sucking on their mother’s breast as sucking on a pacifier, someone’s finger or a bottle nipple as they would their father’s nipple,” Dr. David Kaufman, a neonatologist told ABC News.
Dry nursing can be done to soothe, comfort, “or in between feedings when they just want something to suckle,” pediatrician Gina Posner told Yahoo!. In fact, many moms do this even after their milk has dried up to comfort their babies as well.
The practice of comfort nursing is actually something that’s gone on for decades. When researchers decided to live among the Aka Pygmy people of central Africa, they noticed infants were sometimes being suckled by their fathers, the Guardian reported. For them, the male/female roles are interchangeable, something many in our culture have been fighting for just as long.
“There is a sexual division of labor in the Aka community – women, for example, are the primary caregivers,” Professor Barry Hewlett, an American anthropologist who study the tribe said. “But, and this is crucial, there’s a level of flexibility that’s virtually unknown in our society. Aka fathers will slip into roles usually occupied by mothers without a second thought and without, more importantly, any loss of status – there’s no stigma involved in the different jobs.”
It is this intimacy that is often requested of men in our society and then scoffed at in the same breath. “What is sad is that the negativity to the Aka revelation points up the continuing awkwardness around intimacy between fathers and their infants,” Jack O’Sullivan of Fathers Direct said in the article. “While mother-child intimacy is very public, and celebrated, father-child intimacy is still shied away from and worried over.”
At the end of the day, it’s the skin-to-skin contact that’s most important for dad’s and their babies. And if comfort nursing is something a father is comfortable with and wants to do, they should be allowed to do it without judgement.