Father posts video of baby sucking on his nipple - is it OK for dads to 'comfort nurse'?

A father posted a Twitter video of his daughter appearing to “comfort nurse.” (Twitter/@SlimeBallDuke_)

In most cases, mothers lactate after having a baby and therefore are the ones who nurse their infant. But one dad shared a video on Twitter that showed his baby daughter sucking on his nipple – and he clearly found it hilarious.

“Baby girl was OBVIOUSLY confused,” @SlimeBallDuke captioned the video, which has been viewed nearly 2.2 million times. Several people pointed out in the comments that the baby was “comfort nursing,” while some others called the behavior “disturbing.”

“Comfort nursing is basically just nursing for soothing versus hunger,” Gina Posner, MD, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. It seems a little unusual for a baby to suck on her father’s nipples, but Posner says “it’s fine” if babies do this with their dads on occasion.

“Although some men (and women) may find this both weird and uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with it,” women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Babies have a sucking reflex and will suck on many different things in order to soothe themselves. Many doctors recommend a clean pinky finger to fathers, but if the baby latched on to the dad’s nipple, so be it.”

However, Posner points out, there typically isn’t much to suck on. “A male nipple generally isn’t that large, so the babies don’t have much to suck on,” Posner says.

“Usually babies just want to suck, and they tend to suck on an arm,” she says. It’s also fine for dads or other relatives to have a baby suck on a clean finger or their arm (provided it’s clean, too), Posner says. And, of course, “they can also use a dummy,” she says.

Nipple confusion, which happens when a baby has trouble adapting to different nipples, such as their mother’s and a bottle’s, shouldn’t be an issue here either, Posner says.

Nipple confusion could potentially be an issue if a dad were to let the baby suck on his nipples in the first few weeks of life, Joanne Goldbort, a breastfeeding researcher and assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “In the first couple of weeks, the baby is establishing its own pattern of feeding,” she explains. “If you introduce something other than the mother, yes, it could establish nipple confusion.” However, she says, this is less likely to be an issue if the child is older.

While the video raised a few eyebrows, it’s ultimately not a big deal. “It’s really not much different from a pacifier,” Posner says.

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