Feeding & Diapering

“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.” - New Dad

Feeding & Diapering

“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.” - New Dad

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 or get out alone. Of course, this means Mom must use the milking machine, aka the breast pump. 

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."

Amid sleep and breastfeeding challenges, Mom may choose to pump and have Dad use the bottle at an even earlier time. Many parents who try the bottle 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 the 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 your baby 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 the baby's 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 her, 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 formula unused within one hour should be discarded. Once you open a can of powdered formula, 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 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 three weeks in. Nobody tells you how amazingly shitty it feels that, as the father of a breastfeeding baby that cannot yet use a bottle, 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.”

CUBS Game - Dad Catches Foul Ball While Bottle-Feeding his Infant Son (0:54)

“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 4AM, 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.”



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. 

With one hand on the baby's bottom, rest her 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 it firm.

Sit your baby on one of your legs, facing the other, and place your hand high on her chest where you can put your thumb and finger around her neck to support her head. Lean her forward and pat her back. You can also try rubbing her back.

Sometimes just holding her up facing you with your hands around her upper chest will do the trick. If your baby doesn’t burp, don’t worry. She may not need to.

You can burp your baby in the middle of a feeding to make room for more milk. When you burp her after Mom nurses her before bedtime, suggest that Mom “top off her tank” so they can both sleep longer. A very tired Mom will think you are a genius.


Assume your baby will spit up when he burps and put a burp cloth over your shoulder. If he does spit up, use the cloth to wipe his mouth.

Newborn Burping Techniques (4:11)

How to Burp a Baby - The Easiest, Fastest, Most Effective Method (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 more effectively. Put him face up on your lap, grab both legs, and then gently move them like he is riding a bike.

Dad Skills: Josh and Dan teach us about baby gas (2:22)

Bicycle Legs (age: 1 month) (0:53)


Changing Diapers

Changing diapers used to be optional for fathers. Those who opted out paid a big price, missing out on a lot of great bonding time. You can change all that by asking the nurse to walk you through changing your baby’s 1st diaper, and then showing Mom how it is done.

“I changed your first diaper and thousands more, and you will be home by 10 o’clock!” is a great way to end an argument with a 16-year-old.

How to Change a Diaper (1:45)

Problems handling the sight and smell of poop?

Many guys are not bothered at all by the site and smell of their own young one's poop. It's all part of being a dad.

It is hilarious to watch guys who 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 internet famous.

reddit: A dad-to-be asks about diaper gag reflex and gets answers.

Umbilical Cord Care

Umbilical cords are cut at birth, leaving a 1-inch stump connected to the baby's belly button. The umbilical stump is clamped and will dry out, turn brown and fall off in about 2 weeks. You'll need to keep the stump and surrounding skin clean and dry to prevent infection. 

Unfortunately, drying umbilical cord stumps can stink...

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 the stump once a day during a diaper change. Don’t cover the area with a diaper that will rub against the stump and irritate it. 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.

Baby Care Resources

Thirty-five years ago, for most new parents, there was only one parenting book (Baby and Child Care (1946) by Dr. Spock) that emphasized parents should trust their own instincts. Now there is a massive collection of books, websites, organizations, and media that, among many things, imply the last thing you should do is trust yourself. 

So where do you find a good resource for helping you care for your baby (aside, of course, from this site)? We asked new parents, and came up with:

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