Do Fathers need to Bottlefeed to Bond with their Babies?

“I want the baby to take a bottle so his dad can feed him and start to bond.”

This is SUCH a strongly perpetuated myth, so many mothers express or give a bottle of formula so that their partners “can feed the baby and bond a bit”, but really, it is totally unecessary, there are so many wonderful ways for partners to bond, including:



Nothing is more amazing for a father to hold their baby close to their chest, facing inwards naturally, nuzzling their head and talking softly to their infant as the hold them, arms free to carry on with their day. This is bonding at its best!

dad babywearing baby bonding

Image copyright Moby Wrap

Skin to Skin

Naked cuddles are amazing, they generate the release of Oxytocin (the love hormone) in both father and child who get to know each other through touch and smell as well as sight.

dad skin to skin bonding baby


Sharing a bath with a baby is such a special experience, it is skin to skin and then some! holding your baby in warm water, chest to chest and watching how much your baby enjoys the experience is one of the best parts of being a new parent.

dad baby massage bonding

Baby Massage

Massage is wonderful for relaxing babies and parents alike, again it stimulates the release of oxytocin and reduces stress hormones, it’s a great way to get to know your baby by touch and also helps with sleep too.


Reading to babies is an amazing thing to do, it helps to build a real connection and a love of books for life, as well as forming a vital part of a good bedtime ritual.

dad reading to baby bonding

Practical Care

Changing nappies, winding, getting dressed, these may seem boring, mundane tasks, but they all provide wonderful opportunities to bond with babies, talking or singing as you dress or wipe little bottoms definitely brings you closer to them.

dad nappy changing bonding

So many wonderful ways to bond and not a bottle in sight!

How does your partner bond with your baby?


About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
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10 Responses to Do Fathers need to Bottlefeed to Bond with their Babies?

  1. Liga says:

    Babywearing, baby resting on dad’s chest, nappy changes, many, many, many things.

  2. Laura says:

    I’ve always thought it strange that people think feeding your baby is the only way to bond with them. What about those parents whose babies are to tiny and weak or ill to feed, needing ng tubes, etc.? Their parents find ways to bond with them, don’t they?

  3. bronwyn says:

    Yeah, I was recently on a forum where the suggestion was made that fathers are BETTER primary caregivers and women should work while men raise the babies. When I countered that women are the only ones ho have breastmilk I was poohpoohed, apparently the benefits of breastmilk pale into comparison when faced with the potential benefits of a male primary caregiver. I got the hell out of the stupid before I got infected.

  4. Claire Laycock says:


    I enjoy reading your posts however I would have not been able to breast feed without nipple shields therefore an absolute neccesicty for me. I breast fed my baby until 9 months wearing nipple shields – I would have loved to not have to wear one as it was a hassle, embarrassing and when he was screaming for a feed in public and I couldn’t get it on frustrating. However it was that or not breastfeeding so I had no choice! Breastfeeding counselled supported and actually encouraged me to continue wearing it as he was doing so well with it. Some products are useful!


    Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2013 10:35:49 +0000 To:

  5. Nicola says:

    My wonderful husband loves wearing our 5 month old and will normally offer whenever we go out 🙂

    We also bedshare and in the morning I get up and leave them together while I have a precious few minutes enjoying my breakfast. Often when I return I find them lying cheek to cheek looking up at the light which she loves, giggling and chatting together. What a bond 🙂

  6. liz may says:

    Add singing to the list. Babies can recognise dad’s voice whilst in the womb. Music can very bonding. Most dad’s can manage to remember the words to a few nursery rhymes.

  7. Wow! “Expressing milk supports breastfeeding in many ways”. Just…! How can they get it so wrong!

  8. The most commonly asked question at my breastfeeding info talks is “when can dad start giving a bottle at night so he an bond with baby?”. In fact, I’ve been asked it so often I’ve now included it as part of the talk, explaining your points as above, as well as linking in about how it can be detrimental to establishing / continuing breastfeeding etc and emphasise dads role in supporting mum to do one of the best things they can to promote health in their lo. It is such an urban myth that it’s a helpful / necessary thing for dads to give a bottlefeed that it is hard to get over that there is so much more to bonding with baby and helping a new mum! X

  9. rosewell says:

    I wonder if anyone is actually considering the babies fundamental needs, when encouraging mums to express so dads can have a go at feeding — the baby gets so much comfort from direct breast feeding from mum, and it’s mum’s unique bond with baby — why not let mum’s do what they a biologically programmed for (if breast feeding is successful), and leave dads to do anything else that he ‘can do’, like baby wearing, winding, cuddling / rocking to sleep. bathing, skin to skin time etc….there are so many other ways dads can bond, without muscling in on mummy territory or compromising the bond she is developing / has with her baby, or depriving the baby of it’s desire to latch onto mum — I think it’s amazing if both parents want to share feeding, and mum wants to express to have a break, but surely, ultimately it’s the baby’s needs that come first and foremost, then the mum’s if she needs a break — and if baby gets most enjoying / pleasure / nurture / comfort from feeding direct from mum’s breast, why would you put dads needs above babies! Or change the babies routine so dads can have a go? I think it’s down to each parent, how they raise their child, but surely, the childs needs should be paramount, and taking away precious breast feeding time with mum, to give dad a go, surely is getting away from a fundamental point — babies are biologically programmed to feed direct from the breast — all these mod cons (express machines etc) have been introduced to help mum, ease the pressure of breast feeding etc, to give her a break should she desire it, but not to give dad equal bonding, in an area that he is just not physically designed to offer? If mum and baby have a successful breast feeding relationship — leave mum to do what she is programmed / designed to do, there are tons of other ways dads can enjoy a very close bond with baby, without depriving baby of this amazing connection he /she has with mummy!

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