Did you hear about the recent stink raised about an ad showing a dad bottle-feeding his 6 month old child? No? Well, it was in New Zealand, so a bit far away from some of us. The topic, however, is near and dear to many of our hearts. Any of you who read my post “A Dad Weighs in on Breastfeeding” know I have strong opinions on the subject.
For a variety of reasons many of you reading this did not or could not feed your babies breast milk. The last thing in the world I want to do is make someone feel bad over choices they made in the past, or a situation in which perhaps they had no choice. That would be pointless. So why am I treading into this touchy territory yet again?
An anti-smoking TV public service ad in New Zealand featured a dad (who happens to be well known Kiwi athlete, Piri Weepu) at home with his young baby and his toddler. At one point during filming he fed the infant from a bottle, and a brief clip of this was included in the ad. Apparently the La Leche League and others rose a bit of a row, and it was edited out.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I feel when it’s possible for a mother to breastfeed, I am a very strong advocate of that choice, versus giving formula to ones children. And in general I’m a supporter of the La Leche League’s aims, but in this case it seems to be a bit of a tempest in a baby bottle. A dad feeding his baby. How horrible!
First of all, because the father was shown briefly bottle-feeding his 6 month-old infant, doesn’t mean he’s not giving her breast milk. My wife, like many of you, pumped and froze milk so that I could do just that. I’m very proud of all of those late night feedings, and would not have traded that bonding time with my baby for anything.
Secondly, I just like seeing a big macho guy like this feeding his baby girl. It sends the great message that dads can and should be part of taking care of their kids. And what if he was giving her formula? While formula is not what I’d recommend if a family has a choice, I’d still rather they had let his fans see him helping out in this very intimate way.
I understand that the La Leche League and others want all health related ads to show consistent messages, and that breast feeding is something to be encouraged and supported. But in this case, I feel the unstaged moment caught on tape of a father’s gentle love and care of his child, was just as valuable a message to send to other men.
What do you think? I’m totally okay being told I’m wrong. I’m wrong all the time. One of the reasons I write about fatherhood is it helps keep me focused on what I need to do each day to become a better dad. I and other readers learn so much from the comments you leave, so please weigh in with your thoughts below. Thank you.