New Dads: Here’s Why You Should Take the Late Night Feeding

dad newborn nighttime feeding"
dad newborn nighttime feeding
Source: Canva
Source: Canva

When each of my children was born, I took the 3 a.m. feeding. Not because I was forced to (or to even help out my very tired wife, though I’m sure she appreciated it.) It’s just that it was the perfect time to introduce them to the wonder that is Star Trek. In those months, separated by years, my kids got a full dose of Captains Kirk and Picard. A healthy foundation of Star Trek is essential to a good upbringing, in my opinion. Or maybe I took the nighttime feeding because once I became a father, something fundamentally changed within me, and spaceships helped me cope. 

We all know the tropes of fatherhood. The dad is hands-off and has never changed a diaper. The dad doesn’t know the meaning of his baby’s cries and has to be rescued by a female relative close by. In those cases, hands swoop in and take our kids away. They take a piece of our hearts away. 

I hate the outdated dad tropes because I found that they were not true at all. Maybe at one time they were, but not anymore. The idea that I was ever going to be a dad who wouldn’t be there day and night with my kids was never a possibility. I was the all-powerful dad, Captain Kirk and Picard rolled into one. 

Why I Handled the Newborn Nighttime Feeding

My newborn nighttime feeding routine was intentional. I’m their father and not some part-time caregiver. My kids and I were going to learn together without the interference of old wives’ tales or a “tsk-tsk give me the baby.” I wasn’t going to let that happen, and taking the nighttime newborn feeding was one of the best decisions I ever made as a dad.

“Taking the nighttime newborn feeding was one of the best decisions I ever made as a dad.” 

Sure, you are tired, but as a parent (especially a new one), you are always tired, and you will be exhausted for years and years. You get used to it. And yes, it can be very frustrating when you change diapers, feed, burp, and cuddle, and your kiddo still won’t calm down. But when you get the hang of it and things quiet down and Captain Kirk looks at a green alien, peace and connection come. This is why every dad needs to take the newborn nighttime feeding. Not for our partners but for ourselves. It’s alone time to bond with our baby that can never be taken back, so don’t let it be taken away. 

dad newborn nighttime feeding
Source: Canva

Tips for Dads Doing the Newborn Nighttime Feeding

Get the right gear.

You’ll want all the newborn feeding essentials: from the best baby bottles to the most comfortable nursery chairs. The one thing that I would add is a quality bottle warmer. Having the ability to defrost breastmilk or warm up formula makes things go a lot smoother. 

Do the prep work as part of the bedtime routine.

Nothing is worse than heading downstairs to find no clean bottles, a changing table without the supplies, and extra clothes nowhere in sight. Be a prepper, but instead of hoarding canned goods and shampoo bottles in a basement, make sure your areas are good to go with all the extra supplies you’ll need. You need to be flexible and take problems as they happen. It’s basically a good idea to make sure your “workbench” has all its tools and is ready to go. 

Put what you need for newborn nighttime feedings within arm’s reach.

Pacifiers, baby wipes, and an extra blanket should all be close enough that you don’t have to stand up when you need them. Nothing is worse than almost having the baby back to sleep only to have to jostle them as you try to find a lost pacifier. So, do yourself a favor and make sure your space is ready to go.

Don’t forget about yourself.

If you’re not comfortable, neither is your newborn. Get the slippers that fit just right, a phone cord that never leaves the feeding area, and headphones to keep the noise down. I currently use bone-conduction headphones so I can still hear my children, but they won’t get bored with one of my many history podcasts. Yes, I am the cliché dad, but history is cool. The point is that the more comfortable you are, the more you will enjoy the newborn nighttime feedings.

Embrace your failures.

Don’t run when things go south, and you know that they will. Some nights, the baby won’t stop crying, the diapers don’t hold, and you’re too tired to think straight. The good news is that you don’t have to think straight. Eventually, all the night feeds become a habit.

Trust that you are dad and have the skills to handle anything that comes up. If Dad can change a tire, he can change a diaper. It’s one of the funny quips of advice I give when I do public speaking. But there is truth in that statement. Dads are capable, they just have to believe they are. So learn from your mistakes, correct them, and take the chance to bond with your kid without any interference. 

You are still on if your wife is breastfeeding.

Even if your kid is exclusively breastfeeding or won’t take a bottle, there is still work and bonding to be done in the middle of the night. Be the one who gets up and changes the baby, hands them to your partner, and takes them away when it’s done. It’s like the greatest role reversal. Make sure your partner never has to leave the bed, and as you get your child back to sleep, be the one to comfort them.

Oh, and don’t forget to turn on your version of Star Trek. May I suggest the original The Wrath of Khan?

shannon carpenter

Shannon Carpenter, Contributing Writer

Shannon Carpenter has been a stay-at-home dad since 2008. He is also a humor writer trained through the famous Second City and author of The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad. Shannon’s writing has appeared on CNN, The Atlantic, NPR, Fatherly, and he has shared his experiences with Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNBC, Slate Magazine, and The New York Times, as well as his local NBC and FOX stations. Whether writing social satire or parenting essays, he is always able to find your funny bone and leave you with a lasting impression.