Dads can participate in infant care in all sorts of ways — not the least of which is bottle feeding — but breastfeeding is one experience that’s typically reserved for moms alone. A new device from Japanese tech innovator Dentsu aims to change that. Reminiscent of the DIY invention worn by Robert DeNiro in the 2004 movie Meet the Fockers, the ergonomically shaped “Father’s Nursing Assistant” was intentionally modeled to resemble a woman’s breasts, featuring a container for milk on one side and a feeding system on the other.
What’s the point, you may ask, when it’s still made of plastic and ordinary bottles can accomplish the same thing? According to Dentsu, the “Father’s Nursing Assistant” enables contact between fathers and infants that’s normally reserved for mothers, offering enhanced opportunities for bonding. It also frees up a hand so you don’t have to awkwardly prop the end of the bottle up with your chin.
The machine vibrates to help soothe the baby to sleep and makes use of heated silicone “breasts” to mimic the feel of skin. It’s similarity to the feeling of actual nursing could be especially helpful in situations where babies have a hard time adapting to bottles, making it easier for moms to take a break and pass on their feeding duties to other caregivers.
Dentsu adds: “The amount of time infants in Japan spend sleeping is shorter compared to the rest of the world. Much of the parental stress and difficulties surrounding childrearing are related to feeding and sleeping, and generally the rate of participation by fathers tends to be low. Breastfeeding is also effective at helping the parent sleep — a benefit that is currently skewed toward women. Focusing on breastfeeding, we aim to decrease the amount of burden on mothers and increase the amount of time infants sleep by enabling fathers to breastfeed.”
“This is realized with the Father’s Nursing Assistant wearable device. Based on advice from pediatricians and babysitters, who say that babies tend to touch the breast with their hands when feeding and that the softness seems to sooth them, the product has been shaped to resemble a woman’s breasts. As a result, a father can hold his baby in both of his arms, creating a deeper kinship between them and enabling the baby to sleep peacefully in his father’s arms. The Father’s Nursing Assistant has a tank for milk on one side and the breastfeeding system on the other. The device also senses the infant’s breastfeeding and sleep timing and is linked to an app that facilitates a better visual understanding of the infant’s condition.”
Predictably, the nursing device has been met with a bit of controversy on social media, with some arguing that it could never replace “the real thing” and others worrying that it could contribute to negative perceptions of bottle feeding. But perhaps Dentsu missed an opportunity to broaden the marketing of the Father’s Nursing Assistant by framing it as an assistive gadget for any parent, including those who have adopted infants, use donor milk, or are physically unable to breastfeed themselves.
Some parents are just fine with bottle feeding, but others crave the kind of intimacy only nursing can provide. The Father’s Nursing Assistant offers a new option among a range of infant feeding solutions so that both parents can decide what’s best for them and their babies.