What New Dads Need to Know About Bottle-Feeding and Breastfeeding

By: Dr. Maria Cerino - April 29, 2024 - 13 Minute Read

What New Dads Need to Know About Bottle-Feeding and Breastfeeding | The Milky Box

Feeding their babies can be challenging and daunting for first-time fathers. While most moms are quicker to establish a feeding routine, involving the baby’s dad is essential for bonding with their baby, and it's also a significant aspect of sharing responsibility between partners.

In today’s article, we’re going to focus on giving all dads a comprehensive guide on all things breastfeeding & bottle feeding.

Feeding your Newborn Breast Milk or Baby Formula

Choosing between breast milk and formula is a personal decision, as many factors need to be considered for this decision. One thing is sure: the American Association of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast or formula feeding for the first six months of your infant’s life. 

This time is necessary for their digestive system to develop and be ready to introduce solids.

Before this time, parents need to make an informed decision. As a father, it’s crucial that you get involved in the discussion. While the final decision on breastfeeding will be on your partner, it’s important to be there for your partner, and support their decision, always offering to take on half of the workload that the final decision implies.

While breastfeeding is the most natural choice for many, it’s essential to keep in mind that, in some cases, breastfeeding is not possible. Some moms struggle with milk production, lifestyle commitments, or medical conditions that make breastfeeding not viable. This happens more often than we think; in this case, choosing the right baby formula is the next best step.

Dad’s Can Make A Difference | The Milky Box

Benefits of Breastfeeding

If you’ve been perusing all parenting materials, you’ll know by now that breast milk is naturally produced to contain all the nutrients your baby needs. It adjusts as they age and protects them from infections with antibodies.

It has also been found that infants who are breastfed have a reduced risk of encountering medical issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and allergies. Furthermore, breastfeeding may lower the chances of a child developing obesity.

There are many ways in which dads can get involved in this step:

1) You can take care of chores while your partner breastfeeds (cook, clean, do dishes, prepare bottles)

2) Your partner can pump, and you can be in charge of feedings, so they can rest through the night. Many couples split the night hours so both can get a fair amount of sleep, this works amazing, and it allows you to bond with your baby through these feedings.

3) Check for your partner's needs: offer them water, a snack, put on their favorite show, be on standby to burp your baby.

Dad’s Can Support Breastfeeding Partner | The Milky Box

Limitations of Breastfeeding

Like all things good, breastfeeding has its limitations. The biggest one is the level of commitment it requires. As a dad, you need to provide her a safe space to express her concerts, and offer options so she feels free to make a decision.

Breastfeeding demands a considerable commitment from mothers. For some new moms, the constant need to nurse a newborn can feel restrictive. Due to the speedy digestion of breast milk, these infants typically require more frequent feedings compared to formula-fed babies.

As a result, new moms may find themselves stressing every 2 or 3 hours during the initial weeks. This is where dads can shine: you can offer to do all the feedings at certain times of the day, or alternate feedings so she can relax and not feel overwhelmed.

Mothers also struggle when having to return to their daily jobs. More often than not, maternity leave isn’t flexible enough to allow for a full six months of breastfeeding. This causes stress in their work lives, and it is one of the main reasons why many opt for formula feeding instead.

Needing a specific medical prescription is another limitation. Cancer treatments, certain anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medication, and certain antidepressants are not allowed during pregnancy.

At the end of the day, these circumstances will lead mom to make a decision, and while they get to have the final say, you can always make suggestions and offer your help, so the decision feels shared, and she feels supported.

Benefits of Formula Feeding

Formula is a nutritious alternative to breast milk. It usually comes in cans or ready-made preparations that are easy to measure and serve. This is, in a way, easier for dads. 

As long as you learn the appropriate ration, this allows you to independently feed their baby. That is one of its major benefits, it allows any caretaker to take charge of feedings, therefore giving mom a much-needed break. 

Here’s how you can get involved:

● Choose the right formula and take the weight off your partner: do all the research, present them with the option to find what feels best for your baby.

● Learn how to prepare and store baby formula There are many guides online and on the formula packaging too. It’s important that you learn about the proportions, safe cooling, storing, and the right measures to avoid bacterial growth.

● Keep an eye on your baby’s gut: If you notice feeding issues, such as vomiting, frequent abdominal inflammation, and pain in your baby, your pediatrician might suggest switching to specific, allergen-free formulas. The goal is never to allow your baby’s growth to slow down.

Dad’s Can Help with Bottle Feeding | The Milky Box

Choosing the Best Infant Formula

Choosing the best formula is tricky for most parents. It’s a completely new world, and there is a lot of contradicting information around. 

One of the most important pieces of advice we can offer is to get familiar with the ingredients listed on the back. Ideally, you want to look for high-quality, organic formula that is sourced from clean ingredients and formulated specifically for infants.

When looking for the right baby formula for your little one, it is advisable to try one kind at a time. This will help you identify any tummy troubles or allergic reactions your baby may have. 

Before making a purchase, please take a moment to check the label to ensure that the formula contains all the necessary nutrients, such as DHA and lactose as the main ingredients.

Watch for unhealthy ingredients like corn syrup and soy, which can harm your little ones' health. These ingredients are often added to baby formula, and consumption of such foods can lead to various health problems.

Get the Ounces Right: What are the Newborn Feeding Amounts?

If you’re ready to dive in, here’s how you, as a dad, will prepare the bottle for your baby. Newborns will need different amounts of milk depending on their age. As the weeks go on, you will notice the amount change. Please keep in mind these quantities will vary from child to child. 

These are the estimates according to the American Association of Pediatrics:

● Newborns: .5-3 ounces every 3-4 hours

● 2 months: 4–5 ounces every 3–4 hours

● 4-6 months: 4-6 ounces every 3-5 hours

All formulas will come with a scoop designed for that particular formula, you can use it as a reference to prepare the bottle.

Organic Baby Formula

Choosing the right baby formula can be daunting for parents who are concerned about their infant's health and development. Organic baby formulas are an excellent option for parents who want to ensure their little one gets the best possible nutrition without the risk of harmful additives.

With organic baby formulas, you and mom can rest assured that your infants receive pure, natural ingredients carefully selected to support their growth and development.

European Baby Formula

Stringent regulations and high standards are crucial to ensuring that only clean and pure ingredients are used in baby formula. When selecting European baby formula, you can rest assured that these standards are met, the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly, and animal welfare is given top priority.

All European organic baby formulas must comply with EU guidelines and be free from pesticide residue, growth hormones, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic chemicals, and preservatives. Each container is carefully scrutinized before receiving the organic stamp to ensure it lacks heavy metals and other toxic ingredients.

Every stage in the baby formula-making process, from the farm to the final product, adheres to these high standards. By choosing European organic baby formulas, parents can be confident that they provide their infants with the healthiest and safest nutrition.

European Organic Baby Formula | The Milky Box

How Often do Newborns Eat?

Once your baby is home, you will notice they feed quite frequently, especially during the first couple of months. These first nights are the most important for your partner and you.

Mom will not only be exhausted, but she will also feel sore, and will need a lot of rest. This is where you come in, and show your support through keeping the family fed, giving her space to talk about this experience. 

It will be scary for both of you, particularly if you are first time parents, that’s why being there for each other is crucial.

Is My Newborn Getting Enough to Eat?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that checking your baby's diaper can help you gauge whether they're getting enough to eat. Once your baby reaches their first month, having a wet diaper every three to four hours (or around five to six wet diapers per day) is a positive indicator. 

Bowel movements can vary: Some babies poop every time they eat, while others may only go once a day. This can also be influenced by whether your baby primarily consumes breast milk or formula.

Another good rule of thumb is to observe them during feedings. You’ll notice them getting “milk drunk” once they’ve had enough. They will stop suckling, relax their hands and close their eyes. 

It’s a good sign that they’re satisfied with their feeding. It’s also crucial to keep them going to their well-child visits to monitor their growth and weight gain.

Your Baby is Eating Enough If... | The Milky Box

Learn Your Baby's Schedule

For new dads, this might be the number one tip. Through observation, it’s easy to learn all the hunger cues, but it never hurts to set a timer, or use a nursing app to keep their feeding in check for the first few weeks.

A strict schedule is not necessary, as babies are very good at hunger cues. They will make sure to let you know when hunger strikes. 

Watch out for these signs if you’re not sure:

● Crying incessantly

● Opening and closing their mouths repeatedly

● Bringing their fist to their mouth

● Mouthing at their mother’s chest

● Sticking out their tongue

For a more hands-on approach, it’s more important to get a grasp of all the tasks your baby depends on throughout the day, such as diaper changing, bottle preparation, baths, naptime, and cuddle time. Then you can split them between you and mom. The responsibilities will not feel so overwhelming for either of you

Get the Techniques Down: How to Bottle Feed a Newborn

Your time has come, dad. You are on your own with your baby, and it’s time to shine. While feeding them might feel instinctual, there are certain steps to follow to ensure their feeding is adequate. We’re going to condense everything you need to know in seven easy tips to get you going. 

7 Bottle Tips for Dads Feeding Baby

1. Find a comfortable position: No feeding session should be an uncomfortable experience for either party. It’s good to be relaxed so you can enjoy your bonding time. For a deeper dive, check out this amazing article, where we describe multiple positions you can try.

2. Find the right bottle: Some parents swear by buying a variety of bottles featuring different nipple shapes to find the best fit for your baby. Opt for slow-flow nipples to mimic your baby's nursing experience.

3. Be safe: wash your hands before starting the process, and wash the bottle with soap and water after every feeding. This is essential to prevent harboring bacteria. You need to take them apart and wash the nipple, the collar, and the bottle itself separately. Some amazing brushes on the market can help you reach every nook and cranny.

4. Check the temperature: The milk shouldn’t be too hot, as this can cause deep burns on their delicate skin. Some babies even enjoy cold milk, it’s up to their preference. For more info, check our comprehensive guide on milk temperature.

5. Tune in with your baby: Look into their eyes, let them look at your face and explore it with their hands if they want. Check for hunger cues, and follow their lead. Some babies need a break in their feeding session, and they will lean away from the bottle to let you know. You can try offering more after a few minutes before ending the session. Remember to never put the baby down with the bottle in their mouth and walk away. This is extremely dangerous and can cause choking.

6. Burp them: Bottle feeding allows for more air intake than breastfeeding does, this is not necessarily bad for them if you burp them accordingly. There are many amazing resources online with pictures to learn a technique that works perfectly for your baby.

7. Leftovers: As a rule of thumb, you must discard the leftover milk in the bottle if they don’t finish it in two hours, according to the CDC. There are multiple techniques to handle milk storage, and the safest process is freezing it.

How Can a Dad Tell Their Partner They Should Stop Breastfeeding?

When it comes to supporting your partner's decision to breastfeed, it is essential to be there for them with a friendly and understanding ear. Breastfeeding and parenting can be challenging, and your partner may have worries or concerns they want to discuss with you.

Please do not underestimate this time; keep an open mind and listen to them with empathy. If you notice that they are struggling, offer helpful tips or resources to make things easier. 

Remember to show them love and appreciation for all their hard work.

Helping Your Partner | The Milky Box

The Main Takeaway for All New Dads 

The role of a father is of utmost importance right from the very first day of their child's life. The early years of parenting can be overwhelming, as they are filled with a range of emotions, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty. However, this phase is also incredibly fulfilling, and there won't be any time in your child's life quite like the first year.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you can check out The Milky Blog, which provides comprehensive information on parenting. Moreover, if you're looking for the best organic nutrition for your child, you can refer to this guide, which will help you make the right choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my baby need any supplements?

No. The American Association of Pediatrics states that healthy children with a balanced diet typically don't require extra vitamin supplements beyond the recommended levels. This includes 400 IU of vitamin D daily for infants under 1 year and 600 IU for children over 1 year. 

Taking excessive amounts of vitamins, like A, C, or D, can lead to toxic symptoms. If you have any concerns regarding supplements, you can always ask your pediatrician, and if need be, they will prescribe the right ones for your baby

Can I reheat milk in the microwave?

No. While it may seem like a convenient option, it is not recommended because it can create hot spots and severely burn the sensitive skin on your baby’s mouth. It is better to run the bottle under some hot water while turning it to ensure it warms evenly.

What is “feeding on demand”?

Feeding on demand refers to the practice of giving your baby their bottle only when they show signs of hunger. It’s easier, and more natural to follow instead of setting a strict schedule. It’s a way to give them control and help them learn to be in tune with their hunger cues.

Can I give my baby regular milk when in a pinch?

No. You can’t offer your baby any milk, including plant-based, that isn’t particularly formulated for them. The quality of an infant baby formula depends solely on its ingredients, and they are processed in a way that your baby can digest them. 

Cow's milk doesn't provide enough of certain nutrients such as vitamin E, iron, and essential fatty acids. It is safe though, to give cow's milk to children after they're 1 year old.


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Dr. Maria Cerino is a medical doctor and a researcher from Mexico, her works being published in prestigious journals like the American Journal of Human Biology among others. As a medical writer, Dr. Cerino focuses on infant nutrition and healthy neurological development in infants and children. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks, watching indie films, and cooking at home.

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Reviewed by Suzanne Renee',

Infant Nutrition Expert

Suzanne Renee' is an accomplished professional with extensive expertise in the area of infant nutrition, dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of children. She started this journey as a foster parent.

Suzanne has emerged as a strong proponent of the European baby formula and has become a full-time writer on the subject. 

In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking, and going to church.