Caring, feeding, nurturing. These traits are often associated with women—especially mothers. Although mothers still take on the majority of child care, dads today are more involved than those of previous generations. Feeding babies and young children is one way fathers can express their nurturing side, strengthen family ties, and share the work of raising healthy children.Mothers have a special role in breastfeeding that fathers can support. Once baby reaches six months of age, fathers can share, and even take the lead on everything else related to feeding.
- Develop a menu for baby or toddler with mom (sharing this task can make it more enjoyable, and cuts down on the amount of work).
- Help out with grocery shopping.
- Get in the kitchen and safely prepare baby’s first solid foods. Introducing baby to solid foods can be a wonderful experience for fathers as they begin to find their place in child feeding.
- Spoon feed infants after 6 months of age.
- Offer age-appropriate finger foods to infants learning to eat solids.
- Be present and engaged during meal time, modeling healthy eating and making eating an enjoyable time.
- Clean up the child, table and floor after eating.
Both men and women can feed and nurture children. In my experience, feeding my children is very satisfying (especially when they eat well). It’s a time of close connection. At these times, my boys and I share bonding moments, learn to communicate and develop trusting relationships. It’s also satisfying to know that these feeding moments nourish their growing bodies.
I believe that feeding and nurturing children can be both a manly and womanly art. With Father’s Day still fresh in our minds I’d love to hear your thoughts on the role of dads in child feeding.