It’s Creepy For A Dad To Pacify A Baby With His Own Nipple

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Dads Using Nipples to Pacify BabiesIn an anonymous post on Reddit’s “Dads of Reddit” forum, one father asked if any of the other dads there had ever tried to get their baby to suck from their nipples as a way of calming them down. The Dads of Reddit, who were sweet enough to throw in a lot of “no judgments,” to a man said, “Nope. Not once. I’ve never even come within a hundred miles of doing that.” And as open-minded as I am about a great many things, I have to agree: if I need to worry about picking chest hairs out of my newborn’s mouth, I’m out. As a rule.

That’s not to say, in a very Seinfeldian way, that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, in 2005 ABC News mentioned an article in the Times of London which argued that a man’s nipple can be just as comforting to babies as a woman’s nipple.

Okay. Fine. So it’s possible. And I get that there are families out there for whom this would be a sweet, wonderful way for a father to soothe his child. I am not a member of one of those families, however, because if I walked in on my husband suckling one of my babies, I would never, ever stop shuddering. My friends would ask me, “Meredith, are you cold?” And I would whisper, “No…maximally…creeped out.”

It turns out, though, that it’s harder than you might think for a man to suckle a baby. ABC News also quoted Dr. Jack Newman, who is a breast-feeding specialist, pediatrician, and author of “The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers,” who said that he tried it with his child, but his child “did not like it.” And that man wrote a book on breastfeeding. What hope does Harold in accounting have?

A lot of men in the forum mentioned that babies probably don’t like hairy nipples. To which I say, indeed. I also say that if you are considering shaving your nipples so that your child will suck on them, then oh my God please stop.

There was also some discussion in the forum about the fact that men can lactate. This is also true. And I can imagine situations in which this would be fantastically helpful — if you and your baby were stranded on the top of a mountain, for example. Or you were adrift in the ocean like Jack and Rose in Titanic. But otherwise, maybe consider formula as a second to mother’s milk. I think it goes: mother’s milk, formula, the milk of any other lactating animal, and then father’s milk.

So dads, if you want to soothe your baby with your body, offer them a pinkie finger. That will mimic a nipple without the ick factor. But if you’re curious about what it’s like to have a baby latch on, go ahead and try it. Once. Then imagine what it’s like when your baby gets teeth. And then imagine doing that all day every day till your nipples bleed. Then put the baby down, give it a pacifier, and never mention what you did to anyone.

(photo: Syda Productions / Shutterstock)