6 Tips for Getting the Non-Breastfeeding Parent Involved
Updated: Jul 11
You maybe didn’t mean for it to happen…but it did. And it’s common, normal even!
In the early days of parenting, the parent with the source of nutrition and comfort (in most cases, the breasts) becomes the primary caregiver. This conversation isn’t to discount other ways of feeding your baby – we believe that fed is best, whatever way you choose to do that for your family, but focuses on how to involve the other parent if this is the situation you find yourself in!
Tip 1 – Establish routines that the other parent is a part of early on.
If you’re the one doing the feedings, that in and of itself is going to take a lot of time! Most feedings will last 15-25 minutes, and considering your baby is only awake 45-60 minutes at a time those first few weeks, a feeding is going to take up about half that window of awake time.
The non-breastfeeding partner can help with diaper changes, baths, “play” time, and even the other steps in the feeding and nap- or bedtime routines.
After you feed, your partner can do the burping.
Before they sleep, the partner can help with bathtime, or do a massage.
Reading books and floor play are also great times for both partners to interact with the baby in another way.
Tip 2 – The other partner can pick up extra household duties and help share the “mental load” of running the household.
As you’re feeding the baby, your partner can load the dishwasher or start prepping the next meal.
You know there’s always laundry to be done! How many burp cloths and bibs do you think you go through in a week?!
Also, let’s change the narrative that the mom is the one who is the keeper of the schedules. Those first few weeks and months, your baby is going to have quite a few appointments and well-checks. Let your partner schedule them – you don’t have to do it all on your own.
They can even chauffeur you and go to the appointments with you.
It takes two, people! You’re a team!
Tip 3 – Introduce other sleep associations so the baby can fall asleep in a variety of ways.
During the newborn days, your baby likely doesn’t yet have the skill set to fall asleep on their own – though you can start practicing! We recommend practicing the first nap of the day in the bassinet, totally independently. Sometimes it’ll work. Sometimes it won’t, and your baby will need some help.
Introduce a few different ways for your baby to fall asleep so there’s a bit more flexibility with who can help with sleep.
For example, if your baby gets rocked to sleep for a nap, try to pat their tummy gently to help them at the next nap.
Feeding to sleep will likely happen at some point during the newborn days, but having other ways to fall asleep gives you more options down the road.
Tip 4 – Pump so your partner can give a bottle.
Once you feel comfortable doing so, introduce your baby to bottle feeding! Pump or collect some extra milk with a silicone pump, put it in a bottle, and let the non-breastfeeding partner feed the baby.
Yes, it’s really that easy!
As with naps in the bassinet, try to offer a bottle once per day so your baby can get the hang of it.
Flexibility is key.
Tip 5 – Have the other partner babywear!
Your partner can also experience some of the snuggles and closeness you get when breastfeeding.
Have them through on the carrier, wrap, or sling, and wear your baby.
The warmth and closeness of another body recreates the womb environment that your baby experienced for nine months – heck, even grandma or grandpa can babywear if they want!
Tip 6 – Encourage each other.
Parenting, and navigating early parenthood can be hard. Be open and honest about how you’re feeling.
Support each other as you learn your new roles and responsibilities. Love each other. Encourage each other.
You’re in this together, and it’s true what they say – it takes a village to raise a child.
If you found our tips helpful, and want to be a part of our villages, make sure to follow us on Instagram!
Ashley – @heavensentsleep
Katelyn – @sweetpeasleep
The Collective for Family Rest and Wellness – @familyrestandwellnessco