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Daddy does diapers for Father’s Day

Gifts for new or expecting dads who want to look cool while parenting

Whether fathers are more involved with parenting or not, a market has grown up around the idea that a new type of dad is emerging. The new dad gets baby shower gifts, makes play dates with other daddies and their kids, takes the tot on day trips solo and even willingly changes the diapers.

Some of the gifts designed with the new or expectant dad in mind are gimmicky. But if it gets him to actively participate in the baby business, then it’s worth the investment, no?

One such gift is “The GoodFather,” a take off on “The Godfather.” The CD-ROM, $34.95, contains a series of interactive lessons for new or expecting fathers and is available at Dr. Moz and at baby boutiques online, such as Daddy Designs in Lutz, Fla. and Charlotte, N.C.-based GenuisBabies.com.

Tool bag for nappies

Several versions of a daddy-does-diapers survival kit also are sold at cyber baby shops. A simple canvas tool belt, filled with all the paraphernalia needed to change a nappy, retails for $24.95 at Best Baby Shower.com. “Daddy’s Diaper Dootie,” $35 — complete with disposable diapers, changing pad, a pacifier, baby powder, lotion plus goggles, rubber gloves and a nose pin — is a best seller at aplaceforbaby.com.

The best bang for the buck has to be “Daddy’s Tool Bag,” which retails for $39.95. “The diaper bag is styled after a tool bag that you might find at the hardware store,” says Ted Hendricks, 37, the company’s president and father of a 5 ½-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. “The main thinking behind the design of the bag is to keep it at a size, 14-inch length by 7-inch width by 8-inch height, that is perfect for a short day trip but not too big and bulky that it gets in the way,” he adds.

Made of micro fiber, the tote is not only stylish but also extremely lightweight.

The key component to the kit is the 45-minute training DVD that covers all the basics for taking care of a newborn, says Hendricks, who produced and co-hosts the DVD. “We realized that guys are not the first ones to pick up a book to learn how to burp a baby or change a diaper.” The “home improvement” style video includes tips for bathing, fingernail clipping, swaddling, feeding, burping, car seat safety and more. A packing list, an emergency contact sheet and a changing pad also are included.

Fun, funky, dude-friendly

Diaperdude.com

Chris Pegula, 34, founder of Diaper Dude, says the role of the dad is changing but when he first son was born, he couldn’t find a diaper bag that suited his style. He wanted something “funky, fun, urban and street edgy” and all the diaper bags that lined the shelves were flowery and feminine, covered with little bunny rabbits or paisley swirls.

So Pegula, a struggling actor and stay-at-home dad, created his own bag, a messenger bag with lots of pockets to hold diapers, wipes, bibs, a changing pad, a change of clothes, snacks, toys and more. Colors air on the dark or masculine side, such as black, gray, navy and brown. Prints are limited to khaki-colored camouflage.

All the bags have the same basic function, but at the low-end, the bags are made of nylon and retail for $55-$60. Top-of-the-line bags cost $90-$112 and are made of faux suede.

Sold at the company’s Web site, Diaper Dudes also are available at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom brick-and-mortar stores and cyber baby boutiques, such as Pokkadots.com and Tutti Bella.

Lively colors

Another take on the daddy diaper bag is the one-strap backpack or sling bag.

Indianapolis, Ind.-based The Mustard Sprout makes a Marshall Bag, $80, and a little Marshall bag, $36, a smaller version of the larger pack. The bag’s features include a variety of pockets, such as a cell phone/MP3 holder, an external diaper pouch, two bottle holders and a zip compartment for a changing pad, plus a removable insulated water-proof snack pack. Made of nylon, the rugged yet fashionable packs come in yellow, red, green, black and a camouflage print.

“It’s a great price point,” says Gail Brown, manager of Zionsville, Ind.-based Brown’s on 5th, which features the Marshall Bag on its Web site and stocks dozens of diaper bags priced from $55-$300 in its brick-and-mortar store. Women are buying and using the bags as well, especially the yellow and the red, says Brown. The camouflage print is popular among “manly men,” who like to hunt and fish, she says.

A similar sling bag, made by San Rafael, Calif.-based Fleurville, is the DJ (Diaper Jam) bag. Released this spring for $119.95, the bag has 8 pockets and comes in black and a camouflage print.

Hands-free approachA hands-free approach to daddy-does-diapers is the fleece vest, $81, at Denver, Colo.-based DadGear. The vest has the usual lot of pockets to store usual wipes, snacks, changing pad, cell phone but also keeps dad’s hands free to attend to the baby, says Scott Shoemaker, the company’s co-founder and father of identical twin boys, 5 weeks old, and a 3 ½ year old son. “The vest is nice for a quick outing, such as trips to the supermarket,” says Shoemaker, the head cook in the family, who used to lug a backpack filled with baby gear to the grocery store.

Made of mid-weight, anti-pill fleece, the three-season vest can be worn in spring, summer and the fall. It comes in orange or black. DadGear also makes a cargo jacket, priced at $92. It’s exactly the same as the vest but designed for people in colder climates, says Shoemaker.

Some of the interest in daddy-designed baby gear is driven by celebrity dads.

Names like Brad (Diaper Dude) and Tom (DadGear) boost sales.

But Pegula says daddy diaper bags are more than a fashion trend or the hip must-have. “It’s not just about looking cool but also being confident about parenting,” he says. Maybe the times are a changin’.