As a new dad, you are probably unsure how meal time will go. First of all, you need to remember that if your wife is going to nurse, you really have no role until 4-6 months down the road when your baby starts eating real food (and by real food I mean mushed up or pureed real food). There might be a few exceptions with this rule.
If your wife is a professional woman, after her maternity leave, she will probably return to work. If this is the case, she will pump and leave the caretaker (which may or may not be you) with enough breast milk to get through the work day. If your wife is your baby’s mama as well as your sugar mama (meaning you are a stay at home dad), you will be the caretaker of your baby, which means you will be feeding the baby while she is at work. This means becoming acquainted with a bottle. It isn’t hard to feed a baby out of a bottle. They are born with the instinct to suck at a nipple, so just put it in their mouth and keep baby and bottle upright for the duration and you’ll be fine.
You could pull a Prince William and wear this man-boob contraption if you want to ‘bond’ with your baby. I won’t judge.
Your wife may develop some kind of pause or stop in her milk production. Even if you both plan on her breast feeding your baby for the first year, it might not work out physiologically. The milk may never come in, or it may suddenly stop for no reason. My wife had mastitis (infected mammory glands), which is super painful. One of the best ways to deal with it is to pump and continue draining the breasts, but it isn’t uncommon for this condition to stop the production of milk. In this case, you’ll have to settle for formula and bottle feeding.
Here is a breakdown of the most likely scenarios you’ll face as a first time dad:
Months 1-6 – you will have no major role in feeding your baby, unless you are a stay at home dad and your wife returns to work after maternity leave.
Somewhere between 4-6 months – baby foods are introduced. This is where you can chip in and help feed your baby.
Sometime after 1 year – your wife will wean your baby off of breast milk and onto more and more solid foods as teeth grown in. You will have a larger role as they grow up.
Months 1-6 – you can split the feeding duties with your wife, especially at odd hours of the night. It is as easy as mixing up some formula, warming it up, and sticking the bottle in your baby’s mouth.
4-6 months past 1 year – the same as above.
Meal Time = Mess Time
No matter when you start to contribute to the feeding of your baby, you need to understand something. Babies are messy eaters. They have terrible eye-hand coordination, poor patience, and don’t mind wearing their food like grown-ups do. It goes with the territory. Feel free to develop your own meal time routine. Mine goes something like this:
My daughter is 1, but since 6 months we’ve been feeding her at least liquefied Gerber baby food. Before I even put my daughter in her high chair, I make sure I have everything I need to feed and clean up within arms distance. Not her arm’s distance, because she will grab and throw everything on the floor. I have a pack of wet wipes, paper towels, and a wet rag at the ready depending on the mess. Under her high chair, we have two worn towels to catch most of the mess. They help with the clean up since all you have to do is shake them off outside and throw them in the wash.
During the meal, I have to hold one of her hands, because she gets real excited and wants to grab everything, including the spoonful of gooey food. She has gotten to the point where she won’t eat unless she feeds herself now, so it is basically impossible to keep her general area clean during the feeding.
There are a ton of feeding techniques to get your baby to eat what you are selling. We’ve all seen the airplane technique, which doesn’t work for my child. What works for her is to distract her by making a ton of noise and then sneak the bite in. It doesn’t always work. When she doesn’t like what she’s eating, she spits it out. Be ready for a lot of that. Just experiment until you find something that works. It may work for a while or for a few days. Don’t get discouraged; your baby is getting just about everything it needs from breast milk or formula.
Sticky, wet food is a pain in the ass to clean, especially when it dries. So utilize those cleaning tools right away (wet wipes for sticky food, paper towels for spilled juice, warm wash rag for your baby’s face, arms, hands, hair, clothes, etc.). Resist the urge to give your baby food and walk away. You might come back to food splattered on the walls and all over the kitchen. Stay in the area and you will better keep things under control while teaching your child proper eating technique and etiquette.
What Should You Feed It?
If you are ever left with the decision of what to feed your baby, don’t panic. It isn’t that hard. Remember that a warm bottle of formula milk is a good choice, and will always help sooth a crying baby. If they are old enough (once they hit a year), they can really eat anything you are eating as long as it is in small enough bites for them not to choke on. Before, go with liquefied baby food. Think to yourself “would I eat that?” Taste what they are eating. If it tastes terrible to you, it probably tastes terrible to them. But sometimes you can sneak healthy food to little babies because they don’t know anything other than the taste of milk.
One quick way to ruin your child is to give them sweets when they are little. It is tempting to give your baby a swig of your Mountain Dew or a bite of your dessert from the restaurant. But DON’T DO IT! If you do, good luck getting your baby to eat healthy for the rest of their life. My baby has a taste for sweet things, and basically spits out everything else. Except she likes salsa. Weird.
Don’t Give Up
Meal time gets worse as your baby gets older. It is much harder to feed my daughter at 1 then at 6 months by far. And I have a feeling it is only going to get worse from here on out. Kids are picky, messy, and generally grouchy when it comes to food and meal time. But don’t give up! If all else fails, find something they like, and sneak some protein powder or vitamins in it. That’ll Ensure they don’t go wanting for nutrition. Get it? Ensure? Good luck –
What is your meal time routine? What foods does your baby like? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!