Fathers have an important role in the sleep practices of their infant child and breastfeeding, according to researchers from Northwestern University.
The peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Pediatrics on Friday, where its objectives were to assess father-reported rates of infant breastfeeding and safe sleep practices. Another goal was to identify associations between paternal sociodemographic characteristics with tracking breastfeeding initiation and any breastfeeding at eight weeks old.
Another objective was for the infant's safe sleep practices to be assessed by "select paternal characteristics among a state-representative sample of fathers with new infants," the study said. Safe sleep practices that the study uses as examples include the infant sleeping on their back and laying on an approved sleep surface.
The study utilized data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) for Dads, which surveyed new fathers in the state of Georgia two to six months after their child was born.
What were the study's results?
Approximately 250 new fathers partook in the study, where 86% reported that their infants had breastfed and 63.4% and reported breastfeeding of their infant at eight weeks old. Fathers were more likely to report breastfeeding at eight weeks if they wanted the child's mother to breastfeed, as opposed to those who didn't want the mother to breastfeed or had no opinion on the matter.
More than 80% of fathers said that they usually place their infants on their back to sleep, and about 32% said they used an approved sleep surface for the child.
Overall, the fathers said that the rates of breastfeeding and safe sleep practices were suboptimal. Researchers stated as a result that fathers could be included in promoting safe sleep and breastfeeding for infants.