News & Politics

This New Dad Didn’t Mean to Make the Internet So Angry

Tim Causa invented the Swipe and Feed, a device that lets you use your phone while you bottle-feed. He's not sorry.

Screen shot from Good Morning Britain.

When Tim Causa’s baby had acid reflux, the doctor ordered more regular, leisurely feedings, about once an hour. It took forever and it was boring, especially at night when little Jack was essentially sleep-eating. So Causa did what any industrious suburban dad would do: he went to the hardware store. Armed with a sheet of polypropylene, a coping saw, and a heat gun, Causa, who lives in Reston, fashioned a doohickey that let him attach his iPhone to his baby’s bottle. He could support Jack’s weight and write emails or make Fantasy trades in the low light of his cell phone, all without waking the baby. Boredom solved. Baby resentment avoided. Heat gun holstered.

But then the proud-dad started telling people about the thingamajig he’d nurtured into existence. “They thought it was a great idea, so I talked to more people about it, and they thought it was a great idea.” When enough people told him it was a great idea (Causa prefers the term “market-disrupting”), he learned CAD to make a prototype. He YouTubed himself through building his own 3D printer. He hired engineers and a patent attorney and lined up manufacturers, all on his own dime. And when he realized he would need another twelve grand to make the Swipe and Feed a reality, he bought an ad on Facebook to kickstart his Kickstarter.

That’s when the mommy blogs took notice. “Odd gadget holds both a smartphone and a baby bottle. But why?” asked the Mother Nature Network. The Hot Moms Club called it “the latest gadget you’ll hate yourself for wanting.” “Contraption Attaches Your Phone to Your Baby’s Bottle Because Nothing Is Sacred Anymore” joked a Popsugar Moms editor. Angry comments on Facebook followed: “Feeding your child is bonding time with your baby, not losing yourself in your gadgets connecting with others,” cautions Odette from England. Others have questioned Causa over all that invisible cell phone radiation so close to the baby’s head.

When I talk to Causa, who is a headhunter by day, it’s 4 PM and he’s dog-tired. He was up at 3 AM to do a segment for Good Morning Britain called “Smart thinking or lazy parenting?” Causa says a lot of the emails they get are a lot more positive. Waking the negative side of the internet is just the inevitable cost of–you guessed it–”disrupting the market.” When the backlash hit fever pitch, Causa decided to have a little fun. “The following accessory has been approved only for parents with self control. Every guilty pleasure is OK in moderation,” read a title card at the beginning of a recent video.

Causa’s got his 12 Gs now (plus change), and he’s not too worried about the haters. In fact, he’s pretty sure he’s found his calling. “I have a book of inventions I’ve always wanted to take to market,” he says. “I don’t think this is going to be my last.”

Contributing Editor

Amanda has contributed to Washingtonian since 2016. She has written about the right-wing media personality Britt McHenry, chronicled her night with Stormy Daniels, and come clean about owning too much stuff. She lives on H Street. She can be reached at [email protected]