Dad’s How-to Guide for Feeding Baby

Everything dad needs to know from positions to preferred temperatures.

I have fond memories of my husband staying home with our firstborn while I returned to work. He had just finished graduate school, was in the process of looking for a teaching position, and the timing was perfect for him to step in as primary caregiver.

He was excited with this task of taking care of our little one. Unfortunately, he quickly hit a bump in the road: our daughter got upset.

My husband tried everything: changing her diaper, getting a pacifier, laying her down for a nap.

Nothing worked.

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I imagine the crying was reaching fever pitch when a well-meaning neighbor asked, “Could she be hungry?

As the story goes, my husband had a lightbulb moment and realized that babies do, indeed, need sustenance throughout the day; the bottle rescued him and satisfied our daughter's needs.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband is amazing. He loves our little ones and supports me as a breastfeeding Mama.

Yet, even a seasoned pro with five kids enjoys an old fashioned how-to guide. So from us to you, here are some tips for when Dad feeds baby.

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Dad’s How-to Guide for Feeding Baby

Awake, Changed, and...Upset

As it turns out, nursing mamas learn to read their baby’s hunger cues early on. From a change in crying, to how feeding fits into their daily schedule, mamas are in touch with their baby. Dads who aren’t spending many hours a day feeding baby, may need more guidance as to baby’s hunger patterns.

Communicating baby’s typical schedule, as well as specific hunger cues that baby makes, is important. As my husband learned, it’s important to watch baby closely for hunger signs before baby’s distress level reaches our neighbor’s ears.

Or you may just take my words of advice, “If it all starts to go downhill, just try feeding him.”

How Do I Give a Bottle?

Feeding baby from a bottle comes with a few basic tips.

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Position: Dads will want to avoid laying baby completely flat when bottle-feeding. Instead, hold them in a more upright position, at about a 45° angle. Also, position the bottle nipple towards the roof of baby’s mouth, which is more similar to how he latches on when breastfeeding.

Pausing: Pausing several times throughout a bottle is helpful. Not only will this give baby’s body a chance to recognize if it’s full but pausing allows baby an opportunity to burp. Babies who drink from a bottle will likely burp more often, and more forcefully, than when they breastfeed. Look for cues that baby may need to burp such as becoming restless and moving his head from side to side.

Preferred Temperature: Not surprisingly, breastfed babies are used to their milk being body temperature. Having a bottle warmer or warming a mug of water and letting the bottle rest in the warm water will help to mimic this. Always check the milk temperature by putting a bit on your forearm to make sure it hasn’t  become too hot for baby.

Progressive Teachings: One of my husband’s claims to fame is that he encourages our babies to hold their own bottles at a very young age. Even newborns can start learning how to be hands-on if Dad uses their grip reflex to help hold the bottle. This can be a fun way to for Dad to use a feeding session to teach baby something new.

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Baby’s first bottle? Check out my tips for how Dad is key for giving baby his first bottle.

Relaxing Moments

While nursing Mamas get the benefit of becoming very relaxed during a feeding session, Dads might need a bit of encouragement to really enjoy this time with baby.

Grab some coffee (in a spill-proof cup), get comfy, and be ready to enjoy this relaxed time. Make eye contact, talk with baby, and be silly. Plan to spend a chunk of time together and forget about whatever else is pressing.

Make the most of these quiet moments with your little one.

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.

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