The following was produced in partnership with our friends at Baby Brezza, whose appliances and brand new line of bottles make feeding time quick and easy.
Shelter, clothe, feed: The Holy Trinity of parenting imperatives. You spent your life savings on shelter. Your sister seems determined to blow hers on clothing (bless her heart). That last one, though? Feeding a kid can be tough for dads, or at least require them to strongly assert themselves. So went the hypothesis of Fatherly’s first Bottle Feeding Survey: feeding is mom’s domain and, short of offering Junior some tasty dad-nip like an Aka Pygmy (Aka-scuse me?), the best fathers can hope to do is be compassionate co-pilots. As it turns out, dads want to do much more. Many are even winning the feeding game in their homes — but there’s still a ways to go.
Dad’s Doing More At Mealtime Than Stealing Bites
As you keep telling your mother-in-law, the parenting game’s changed. When you were born, men were still barred from many delivery rooms. When your kid was born, that GoPro was so close to the action, the doctor said she could see your head. One 2012 report found 75 percent of dads believe they’re more involved with their kids than their fathers were; that goes for everything from buying groceries to changing diapers to feeding.
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While most women said they handle the majority of bottle feeding in their households, more than one-third of men surveyed said they handle 50 percent or more. Almost 40 percent of men said the majority of baby burping duty falls on their shoulders (along with 100 percent of the puns). And 60 percent said they do at least half of the bottle scrubbing in their house. If they happen to be using specialized cleaning cloths, that’s not cheating — just smart strategy.
Those stats are encouraging, but there’s room for improvement. Of the 80 percent of women who said they do most of the bottle cleaning, 30 percent said they straight up do it all. And 85 percent of women claimed to dominate burping duty — though it’s possible they were referring to their husbands. It’s great that men are leaning in, but the stats still leave two-thirds of guys oblivious to the fact that their aching, chafing, pumping wives need a break. Speaking of which …
It’s Not Just You — Everyone’s Overworked And Underappreciated
When asked if their spouse helps enough during bottle feeding, nearly every man surveyed said, “Yep” … and promptly resumed their nap. Meanwhile, almost half of the mothers — about 45 percent — were juggling an infant, a bottle, a burp cloth, trying to get comfortable, and looking up at their husbands like, “A little help?”
Similarly, most guys said they feel their spouse knows how much they do, compared with the majority of women who said only “somewhat” or “not at all.” While any correlation is speculative, “phubbing” (snubbing your partner for your phone) remained a scourge in 2016. So perhaps guys would know more if they were playing on their phones less. (Hey you! Focus!)
What is indisputable is that both parents will claim to do everything, even though they’re obviously too tired to do anything. The reason is that dads and moms only see things from their perspective, so it’s hard for either party to imagine anyone else working as hard. The path forward is to acknowledge each other’s efforts, stop complaining about who does more, and clearly define who does what.
Any Way You Feed Your Kid Is The Right Way
Dads are starting to win at the feeding game, but there’s still work to be done as traditional parenting roles continue to change and the number of at-home fathers grows. Dads can engage more in this traditionally mom-centric activity by attending lactation consultant appointments, reading the books, watching the instructional videos (preferably not at work), and offering support during the inevitable problems. This reassures your partner that you know what, and how much, they’re doing. Spending quality skin-to-skin time with the baby strengthens bonds and boosts your oxytocin levels, aka the “love hormone,” which is just cuddly for everyone.
As for bottle feeding, a 50/50 split is perfectly practical. You can divide and conquer by scheduling early and late shifts, taking every other night off, or alternating weekdays and weekends. Just remember to avoid “gatekeeping,” those subtle, passive-aggressive (or flat-out nasty) comments about “How I would do it.” Parents don’t have to do things exactly the same way for both to be doing a great job. It’s all about showing up. Besides, for every woman who tries to tell her husband he can’t ever know the joy of breastfeeding, there’s a pygmy tribesman rolling his eyes like, “You were saying?”
This article was produced in partnership with our friends at Baby Brezza, whose appliances and accessories make mealtime food and bottle prep quick and easy.