FEEDING and diapering

“I had to go up sizes based on the size of the poop, not the size of the child.”  - Veteran Dad

feeding and diapering

“I had to go up sizes based on the size of the poop, not the size of the child.”  - Veteran Dad


baby holds bottle
baby bottle

Feeding With A Bottle

Introducing the bottle is like dad graduating from parental probation and mom being released from house arrest. You can take your baby to a car show, leave her with a sitter, take a shift at night with just your baby and you, and cut mom loose so she can sleep and get out alone. Of course, this means mom must use the milking machine, AKA the breast pump. 

When do you start?

Some breastfeeding advocates recommend waiting four months before a bottle is introduced because if mom gets a break from personally breastfeeding her baby, she may like it and be tempted to stop sooner. They also want to maximize mother-baby bonding occurring from breastfeeding, and consider dad’s need to bond a secondary concern.

The standard advice is to wait 4-6 weeks to make sure breastfeeding is “well established” so your baby doesn’t develop a preference for the faster flowing, easier to suck on bottle nipple and stop breastfeeding. This is called “nipple confusion.”

One expert had a different take: “You need to wait until breastfeeding is easy for both Mom and her baby," says Alan Greene, M.D., a pediatrician at Stanford University. "By two to three weeks, neither will want to give up nursing; and it's before the big crying period, usually at four to six weeks, when introducing a bottle might be harder."

Minimize Risk of Nipple Confusion

Amid sleep and breastfeeding challenges (link to breastfeeding), mom may choose to pump and have dad use the bottle at an even earlier time, and many parents who try find they can manage any problems with nipple confusion. They minimize its risk by limiting bottles to one a day, have dad do the bottle feeding so your baby doesn’t associate it with mom, use a bottle that minimizes nipple confusion, and back off on the bottle if any issues arise.

Introducing the Bottle 

The flip side of nipple confusion is that your baby favors the breast so much she rejects the bottle, which requires a baby to learn new mouth and tongue actions. It may take a while so be patient. 

1. The test run: offer her a bottle in the evening after she is breastfed so she doesn’t get upset due to hunger if it does not go well at first.

2. Put just 1 ounce of breastmilk in a bottle, and put it in a bottle warmer or pot of warm water. Test it for warmth by putting a drop on your wrist. Put a drop of milk on the nipple. 



3. Since she will prefer the breast and can detect mom’s scent, it’s best for mom to be out of the room. One dad put on his wife's bathrobe and another used a printout of mom’s face as a mask.

4. To start feeding, rub the bottle nipple on her lips, and when she opens her mouth, touch the nipple to the roof of her mouth to trigger her sucking instinct.

5. If she starts sucking on the top of the nipple, pull it back out and let her suck it in again. Repeat until she sucks the whole nipple in. 

6. If your baby starts crying and turns away from the bottle, back off, comfort him, and then try again. Once you've tried several times, stop and try later.

7. Move her into a different position on your lap, and slowly bring the bottle to her lips.

8. The typical meal takes 10-15 minutes, so find a comfortable place to sit and relax.

Storing and Warming Breastmilk and Formula

Bottle feeding requires stocking and storing breast milk or formula, and heating and cleaning bottles, so set up a system.


Expressed breast milk and formula need to be warmed to body temperature. There are products for this purpose, or you can set the bottle in a pan of hot water. The microwave is not recommended since the milk does not heat evenly, potentially scalding your baby’s mouth, and higher temperatures degrade the quality of the milk. Check the milk’s temperature by shaking the bottle and squirting a few drops on the inside of your wrist, which is sensitive to temperature.

For formula, store unopened containers at room temperature and use by the expiration date. Prepared formula can be refrigerated and used within 24 hours; once heated for use, any extra not used within one hour should be discarded. Once you open a can of powdered formula, after use put the cover back on and use within 30 days; do not refrigerate because it may cause clumping. For concentrate or ready to feed formula, cover the opened carton, refrigerate and use within 48 hours. Always read the directions.

For breastmilk, these are useful guidelines:
CDC recommendations for handling breastmilk.

What Dads Say About Bottles

The bottle has turned out to be popular with the guys:

“I didn’t know that I could bottle feed the baby while my wife was breastfeeding and relieve her in the middle of the night. This will give me time to bond with the baby and score brownie points.” 

“I am 3 weeks in. Nobody tells you how amazingly shitty it feels that as the father of a breast-feeding baby that cannot yet use a bottle that you cannot get him to stop crying. Hold, swaddle, change, skin to skin, warm him up, cooling down, sing, rock, nothing…. He just wants a boob and I can’t do it.”

Dad catches foul ball at a Cubs game while feeding baby

“I frickin love it - it makes me feel much more relevant. It means my wife can go out and leave me in charge without any worry, and it gives me a chance to be an equal parent.”

“We started out with my wife pumping, so I bottle-fed from the beginning. I felt so connected to him doing it. Well, except maybe for a few times at 4 AM, while he was screaming at me between pulls on the bottle.”

“Night is magical. Until you’ve sat up with your baby at night while they feed and come in and out of sleep, you’re missing something. Not to mention your wife could use the help. You’ve got the rest of your life to sleep.”

“I will say some of my fondest memories in the first few months were being able to hold my little one as she fell asleep to a bottle.”

yawning child


Babies swallow air when feeding, which causes discomfort that can keep them awake at night. You and your baby will work together to get burping down, and you may try different approaches. If mom is breastfeeding, burping gets you in the game and provides you a little bonding blast. 

Over the Shoulder

Over Your Shoulder 

With one hand on her bottom, rest your baby on your chest and her head on your shoulder. Her tummy should be in solid contact with your chest because the pressure will help get the air out.  Pat her back; they tend to like a firm one.


Sitting Up on Your Lap
Top Off the Tank
Be Prepared for Spitting Up

Newborn Burping Techniques (4:11)

How to Burp a Baby - The Easiest Way (1:18)

Bicycle Baby's Legs For Gas

This is really a form of massage, can help a constipated or gassy baby get it all out, and is a great way to play with your baby. Babies with gas will often kick their legs in pain, and by bicycling his legs, you will do it for him, only better. Put him face up on your lap, grab both legs, and then gently move them like he is riding a bike.

Colic Baby Massage - Bicycling Massage Techniques (1:31)

Bicycle Legs (age: 1 month) (0:52)

baby on changing pad

Changing Diapers

Changing diapers used to be the seminal difference between boys and men when it came to fathers, but the notion lingers, and you may want to bury it by changing his first one. “No one expected me to step up and take care of my baby, so I changed the first one to set the tone that I was here to play” is how one of our vets put it.” He also figured that “I changed your first diaper!” would be a good way to start a discussion when his baby became a teenager.

Check out this video, and ask the nurse to walk you through the diaper change. You will be good at it by the time you get home.

DAD's Guide to Nappy Changing (1:54)

If your baby has been circumcised, follow your doctor’s instructions about when to begin bathing him. Pre-crawlers only need a bath 2-3 times a week, as long as they are cleaned well during diapering, but many moms believe otherwise.


Your baby's poop for the first couple of days may look like horrifying black tar. Don't worry, it's just meconium. Meconium is hard to get off of your baby's skin (liberally use a diaper cream so it does not stick as much the next time) and will last a couple of days. The good news is that it is basically odorless.

read more

The first few stools will be meconium from materials ingested when the infant is in the uterus and is thick, sticky like tar, dark olive green and there is a lot of it. If your baby poops into the amniotic fluid before being born, it can get into their mouth and nose and interfere with their breathing, so the medical staff may aspirate it his from the nose and mouth to prevent this. 

Meconium in Neonates (1:50)

Standard Diapering Instructions

  1. Get a diaper, wipes, diaper cream and a changing pad.  
  2. Lay your baby on a changing pad on a safe changing surface. Once they start trying to roll over, they are prone to falling off, so keep one hand on him if you can’t strap him down. 
  3. Remove enough clothes to expose his diaper, and place a new one under him.
  4. Undo the diaper; if poopy, grab your baby’s feet and pull them up over his chest. Use the top of the old diaper to wipe away as much as you can. Then tuck it under him. Use wipes to thoroughly clean remaining poop.
  5. Remove the old diaper and put a new one on, fasten it snuggly, and fold the top down below his umbilical cord stump. 
  6. Dispose of dirty diaper and wipes, and wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.

Reddit: Dads talk about preventing the dreaded diaper blowout.

Neal & Jaclyn: Diapers - "Cloth or Disposable" (0:56)

“I had to go up sizes based on the size of the poop, not the size of the child.”  - Veteran Dad

Matt: Killing It With Diapers (0:18)

Changing Boys vs. Girls

For girls, the protocol is to wipe down and not up (or from her front to her back) to avoid getting poop in her vagina where it may cause an infection. It is common for a new dad to feel a little apprehensive about changing his baby girl’s diaper; if you just go for it, the feeling typically goes away after a few changes. The real issue is whether your discomfort inhibits you from caring for your baby girl and bonding with her. 

Having your baby boy pee on you is a rite of passage for new dads. It typically happens when you open his diaper for a changing and cold air hits his package. You might be pre-warned is he gets a little hard-on, but he will shoot fast so it is a good idea to put the second diaper (or a wipe) over his package when you first open his dirty diaper.

Diaper Rash

Most babies will develop some irritation or rash during their first months due to their wet diaper. The best way to treat diaper rash is to change your baby’s diaper as soon as it gets wet, coupled with liberal use of diaper cream. Clean him carefully with baby wipes, making sure not to rub or scrub which will make the irritation worse. Exposing the area to air for a few minutes will help, and then apply diaper cream on and around the rash before putting on the diaper.  If the rash doesn’t clear up, ask your doctor about it.

If You Have Problems Handling The Smell

It is hilarious to watch guys gag at the sight of baby poop. Unfortunately, it's a common reaction and not funny at all when it happens to you.

BE PREPARED: keep a small bottle of Vick’s Vapor Rub in the diaper bag and put a little dab on both sides of your nose, and use disposable gloves if it helps. If you have a problem, don’t let anyone video you unless you want to become famous.

REMEMBER: Not everyone gags at the sight or smell of their baby's poop (or spit up), so please don't assume you're going to.

Neal & Jaclyn: The Truth about Poo-poo and Vomit (1:01)

Dads Changing Poopy Diapers (2:34)

Umbilical Cord Care

Umbilical cords are cut at birth, leaving a 1-inch stump connected to the belly button that will be clamped and will dry out, turn brown and may stink. It will fall off in about 2 weeks, and you need to keep the stump and surrounding skin clean and dry to prevent infection. 


 Give your baby sponge baths and generally avoid getting the cord stump wet until it falls off. Use a cotton swab with warm water and mild soap to clean while changing diapers once a day. Don’t cover the area with a diaper that will rub against it and irritate. Fold the diaper below the umbilical cord stump, or cut out an area of the diaper to keep the stump exposed to air. Consult with your doctor if the skin around the cord becomes red or swollen.

Grossed Out New Dads Provide Their Perspective

“The poop is not the problem, it’s that damn umbilical cord stump slowly rotting and it just refuses to fall away!”

“That thing freaked me out. Gross scabby booger looking thing. All hard and brittle and it would snag on clothes. Ugh.”

”That thing stunk so bad!”

Newborn umbilical cord stump falling off cycle

From Visually.