It's called comfort nursing and both moms—and dads—can do it if they want.
A father is going viral for doing something mamas do every day: Comforting his daughter by letting her nurse.
Twitter user Christopher Brown (known as "Daddy Duke" on Twitter) recently posted a video showing his sleepy baby daughter latching on to his nipple to nurse. Brown captioned the short clip "baby girl was OBVIOUSLY confused" and the video ends with dad having a laugh while his daughter nurses on his nipple.
baby girl was OBVIOUSLY confused 😭😭😭😂 https://t.co/q3fL8V1bWR— 🔥 Daddy Duke 🔥 (@🔥 Daddy Duke 🔥)1536181442.0
"At first it was a joke, my daughter was asleep and I was on my phone about to record her sleeping and boom; she woke up and began nursing," Brown tells Motherly via Twitter DM. "It was the sweetest thing. I don't want people to think I posted the video for any kind of clout, just sharing a bonding moment between my daughter and I," he explains.
The video quickly went viral, attracting more than 160,000 likes and opinions from more than 64,000 Twitter users. While a lot of commenters have remarked on how adorable Brown and his daughter are, there are also plenty of comments suggesting that a dad letting his baby suck on his nipple is wrong.
It's really not though
Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center, tells Yahoo Lifestyle "it's fine" if a baby's mouth finds dad's nipple once in a while, because sometimes baby isn't looking for milk, they're just looking for comfort.
"Comfort nursing is basically just nursing for soothing versus hunger," says Posner.
Professor Amy Brown, author of The Positive Breastfeeding Book, agrees that there's nothing abnormal or wrong about what happened in Brown's viral clip. "Babies suck for comfort," she tells the BBC. "Some won't mind whether that's a male or a female nipple."
Professor Brown told the BBC that you don't have to have been pregnant in order to breastfeed. Women who haven't had a baby, and yes, even men, can do it.
"It's basically down to your hormone levels; if you've got a working pituitary gland and if you stimulate your nipples enough, then you will probably make some milk whether you're a man or a woman," she explained, adding that a man would have to use a breast pump "about eight times a day for 20 - 30 minutes each time" for several weeks before he would produce any milk.
In this case, the father wasn't trying to lactate, he just happened to be enjoying some skin-to-skin time with his baby when she decided to go for the nearest nipple. "It's really not much different from a pacifier," Dr. Posner told Yahoo Lifestyle.
Anthropologist Barry S. Hewlett, author of Intimate Fathers: The Nature and Context of Aka Pygmy Paternal Infant Care has suggested that the Aka Pygmy people of the Congo may be the most involved fathers in the world, and dads there will offer a nipple for comfort when mama is not available.
It's not for every father though. Dr. Jack Newman, pediatrician and author of Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, once told ABC News he's tried it himself when his own children were infants, but didn't like it.
Another viral breastfeeding dad
One father who tried nursing a different way did like it, and, like Brown, went viral back in June.
When Maxamillian Kendall Neubauer's wife April had an emergency C-section and wasn't available to breastfeed the couple's daughter right after birth, Neubauer stepped up and nursed his baby (thanks to a suction cup and a tube full of milk) at the suggestion of nurse Cybil Martin-Dennehy.
She told Motherly she's "suggested this to dads before when I've had an unstable mom, but they usually respond with a big 'hard pass' on it."
Martin-Dennehy told Motherly she hoped that Neubauer's viral moment might help other dads realize that acting as a substitute nipple is not weird at all, and can even help dads bond with their babies.
Brown's viral video may do the same, and he has some advice for fellow dads who might be surprised by a baby in search of something to nurse on: "It's absolutely normal for your child to comfort nurse whenever they see a nipple. Don't be alarmed, maybe snap a pic and show them whenever they get older," he tells Motherly.
These two dads are showing fellow fathers that whether a nurse asks you to nurse your baby, or if your baby just randomly starts to nurse on you, it's totally cool. Sometimes it takes a strong dad to nurse a baby.