More Than Good Milk
Who Needs Great Grand Dads? Kids, that’s Who
Controversy and intense emotions surround breast feeding. Mothers who breast feed successfully enjoy satisfaction that they are promoting good nutrition and bonding with their babies. Other mothers, however, struggle with breast feeding and feel guilty if they offer a bottle. This should not be. Breast milk is best for babies but we need to keep nutrition and feeding practices in a healthy perspective and recognize that babies are born into a world which is larger than just their mothers.
Breast feeding is an important part of a (but not the whole) healthy start. Encouraging mothers to share feeding responsibilities can have a ripple effect of benefits. When mothers pump and ask other family members to offer their babies a bottle, babies enjoy bonding with their fathers, siblings and yes- even great grandparents as we see here. Many mothers worry about “nipple confusion” but in my experience, this is exaggerated. Many who oppose bottle feeding cite this as a reason to never offer the bottle but let’s look at the benefits which outweigh the risk of nipple confusion.
When fathers, siblings and other family members have an opportunity to bond with a baby, they feel closer and more invested in the child’s life. And, the baby receives greater security learning that others beside his mother love him and want to care for him. Infants know the difference between mothers and fathers, siblings and grand parents. Each family member sounds and smells different from another. Each has a different temperament and even as newborns senses this.
How beautiful to see this 95 year old great-grandfather bottle-feeding his great-grand daughter. We have lost appreciation for the importance of extended family support and love and we need to encourage more of it. In a day when families are geographically scattered, we have robbed our children of the security of knowing there are many who will always have his back, encourage him when his mother can’t understand or go with him to driver’s ed when Dad isn’t free.
Mothers and breast milk matter and I would never undermine the importance of either. But we must recognize that when children are born into a family system that is larger than just Mom, we should encourage involvement of these wonderful people because being close to them is good for kids. Really good for kids.