Learning how to use a baby carrier for to nurse can bring amazing freedom. Carriers can help you to support your baby's weight. You support their head with one hand and use the other to help your baby latch on. It's especially great for the early days when both you and your baby are still learning to feed and getting to know each other.
Using a sling to support breastfeeding also easily provides comfort. This means no more piling up pillows on your knee to get your baby to the right height! Or leaning down and getting a sore neck. Instead, you can easily use the carrier to spread the weight evenly across your back.
To see our videos on how to nurse in a wrap, sling or carrier, scroll to the bottom of this article.
Safety when breastfeeding in a baby carrier
It's important to remember that nursing in a baby carrier or wrap is not a 'hands free' situation for a few reasons:
- Parents often loosen the baby carrier or wrap to lower their baby and allow them to latch on. The first letter of the TICKS guidelines for safe carrying is T for Tight. From the minute you begin to loosen your carry until you've finished and returned your child to the upright and tightly secured carrying position be aware it's not hand's free.
- You need to support your baby's head with your hand at all times, not with the carrier or wrap. Babies when feeding need to be free to move their head back, to latch on and off as they desire. Always ensure there is no carrier or wrap over the back of your baby's head as that would prevent them latching on and off easily.
Consider the carrier rather as a third hand, a hand that supports the baby's body weight. This leaves you your own two hands available, one for supporting the baby's head, and another free to do other things, like helping create a good latch, or holding your toddler's hand.
You'll see already we talk about 'latch' a lot! You can find out more about how to latch your baby on here.
How to Nurse in a Baby Sling
Learning how to nurse in a baby carrier is relatively simple - its about repositioning your baby to the right height to allow a little support whilst breastfeeding. Always remember to reposition the baby once you've finished, especially if you've moved them to a cradle hold. Always ensure that the baby's airways are free, and their chin is not resting on their chest. Additionally, make sure their face or head is not covered with fabric, keeping in mind the principle of being visible and kissable.
How to nurse in a Woven Wrap:
For babies who like to feed in an upright position, it's simply a case of loosening your carry, and lowering the height of your baby slightly. Lower them just enough for them to be able to latch on. Ensure there's no fabric covering the back of their head and support their head yourself. This ensures you're still allowing their head to tilt back to latch. Your baby should be able to move their head on and off the breast and not be forced forward.
For those who like to feed in a cradle position, it's a case of again loosening the carry, before gently guiding your baby to the side you'd like to feed on. Then create a pouch to support their weight. You can see it demonstrated here:
Always return your baby to the upright position once you have finished feeding them.
How to Nurse in a Ring Sling:
Ring Slings are fantastic for feeding in. Loosening them is easy, and the tails can be used to offer some coverage if you find it helpful, always ensuring the baby has free airflow and an uncovered face.
“A Ring Sling was the first carrier I fed in – it was totally unplanned but my two day old baby decided (very loudly) that he needed to feed and I just thought it would be easier and quicker than taking him out. I'm so glad I tried it so early on as it really helped boost my confidence when I was out and about, knowing I could feed him on demand wherever I was"
Here's a video showing how to breastfeed in a Ring Sling.
How to breastfeed in Structured Carriers:
Learning how to nurse in a baby carrier using a buckle or tie strap style carrier is straighforward. With Buckle carriers, including the Oscha Cairis, Bairn and Nook carriers, an upright or cradle feeding position can be achieved. Gently loosen the straps until your little one is in a comfy position for feeding. See the video below for breastfeeding in full buckle baby carriers.
For Mei Dai or Tie-strap carrier, (like the Oscha Cairis), an upright or cradle feeding position can easily be achieved. Simply loosen the knot holding the straps and feed the slack through so that the panel is looser and you are able to guide your little one into position. Learn how with our video.
Feel free to pop us any questions you might have and enjoy feeding!
Written by Jess Hippey
Jess is a mum to two boys and a Baby Carrying Consultant based in Aberdeen, Scotland.