The Guide to Breastfeeding & Babywearing
Updated: Apr 28, 2021
GUEST WRITERS: ESTHER WONG AND DEE BURTON,
CERTIFIED BABYWEARING CONSULTANTS
As babywearing consultants we often get asked, “Which baby carrier is good to breastfeed in when I am at home or on the go?”
The answer? Any carrier that fits you and your baby correctly, where mama is comfortable knowing how to use it safely (knowing how to tie and untie, or how to tighten and loosen buckles), and where baby also enjoys being in it.
It's also important you are confident being able to breastfeed and babywear separately first before trying to do them together.
Practice at home when baby is in a content mood (baby is fed, diaper changed, and not overly tired).
Wear breastfeeding friendly clothing.
Practice with different carriers you may have (what works for one mama, may not work for others)
Practice feeding while sitting or standing
Start with taking short trips outside your home before attempting longer trips
Ask for help from a certified lactation consultant or babywearing consultant if you have any questions
Support baby’s neck/head when feeding and moving baby into the correct feeding position, especially for younger babies; do not rely on the carrier for full support.
Make sure baby’s airway is clear and not blocked by any fabric over their nose or mouth; make sure you can always fit two fingers between baby’s chin and chest.
Always put baby back into the upright correct position in the carrier, never leave a sleeping baby at your breast.
STRETCHY WRAPS (MOBY, SOLLY, KTAN etc)
Privacy level: ***
Carrier can be pre tied, no need to unwrap and rewrap, fabric won’t touch the ground.
No need to take off carrier or take baby out if feeding upright.
Able to feed while sitting and walking around.
Fabric can be used as a cover for discreet feeding.
May not be suitable for heavier or older babies, provides minimal support due to the stretchiness of the fabric.
Can be difficult to feed upright; due to cross passes that baby’s legs sit in.
May be hot to feed in due to three layers of fabric.
Breastfeed baby in a stretchy wrap in an upright position:
Keep one hand on baby’s neck at all time, loosen the knot on the wrap/gently lower the sash of the carrier
Decide which breast to put baby on.
Adjust clothing to allow access to the nipple.
Gently bounce baby down to the correct height while having one hand supporting baby’s neck and upper body at all times.
Position baby to the nipple and latch baby on to feed while supporting baby’s neck.
Once baby is finished feeding gently lift baby back up into the correct position (upright, close enough to kiss, baby’s chin is off chest) and correctly tighten wrap, to ensure baby is fully supported again.
Breastfeed baby in a stretchy wrap in a reclined position:
Loosen the knot of the wrap/lower the sash of the wrap.
Take baby out of the two cross passes.
Decide which breast to feed baby.
Baby will sit in the bottom pass of the wrap.
Bring the top pass up and away from baby.
Guide both of baby’s feet into the bottom pass through the wrap not covering the feet.
Bring baby into feeding position lying side ways.
Spread the fabric from the back of baby’s knees to the nape of the neck. Support baby’s neck with your arm.
Latch baby onto the nipple.
After baby is finished feeding, take baby out and correctly wear baby back in an upright position (close enough to kiss, baby’s chin is off chest) and correctly tighten the wrap, fully supporting baby again.
Mei Tan is breastfeeding in stretchy wrap in an upright position
WOVEN WRAPS Privacy level: ***
Different carries allow baby to feed upright or slightly reclined with support.
Wrap can be pre tied, no need to unwrap and re wrap, so fabric won’t touch the ground.
Fabric is supportive for both newborns and toddlers.
Fabric can be used as a cover for discrete feeding.
Some carries require tying and untying of fabric to ensure baby is in a safe position.
Amount of fabric may be overwhelming and can get hot.
Fabric may be too long and be a tripping hazard when walking and feeding.
Breastfeed baby in a woven wrap using the Front Wrap Cross Carry
Loosen the knot on your back, you do not need to untie the knot; just enough for the front pouch to loosen so baby can be adjusted. Keep hand on baby at all times.
Decide which side to feed baby in.
Adjust clothing to allow access to nipple.
Slowly lower baby down to the correct position of the nipple.
Slightly lean forward to allow baby to latch.
Keep hand on baby’s neck at all times and slowly stand back upright.
Once baby is finished feeding, move baby back up into the correct position high enough to kiss.
Correct baby’s seat in the wrap again, making sure the wrap is supporting baby from knee to knee. Tighten the wrap and tighten the knot again.
Rachelle is breastfeeding in a woven wrap in an upright position
Ring Sling Privacy level: **
Easy to loosen and tighten the sling without having to take it off.
Able to feed upright or in a reclined position.
Great in hot weather due to only having one layer of fabric.
Able to use the ring sling tail as a breastfeeding cover.
May be tiring over time as it is a one-shoulder carry.
May be less supportive over time for a heavier baby/toddler.
Breastfeed baby in a ring sling in an upright position
Decide which side to breastfeed.
Loosen the top ring on the sling just enough to be able to reposition baby while keeping one hand supporting baby.
Gently position baby to the nipple (older babies, may be able to feed while straddling your hip).
Slightly lean forward to allow baby to latch.
Once baby is finished, reposition baby close enough to kiss, ensure the seat is correct (fabric is supporting knee to knee). Tighten the ring sling.
Breastfeed baby in a ring sling in a reclined position
Decide which side to breastfeed.
Loosen the ring sling just enough to be able to bring baby’s feet up and out sideways out of the fabric on the opposite side you want to feed on. Cradle baby’s head with your arm.
Lean forward to allow baby to latch.
Ensure there is enough fabric tuck up between baby’s side and your tummy, as if he/she is sitting in a hammock.
After baby is finished feeding, guide baby back up right, high enough to kiss, creating a seat with the sling fabric supporting knee to knee. Tighten the sling again.
Renee is breastfeeding in ring sling in a reclined position
Soft Structure Carrier (Ergo, Tula) Privacy level: ***
Easy to loosen and tighten buckles
Able to loosen one shoulder strap to position baby and still have support of the other shoulder strap, waistband can provide support and comfort.
Supportive for heavier babies and toddler
Structured carrier may be hard for some mother’s to position baby to the breast.
Hard to monitor baby’s airway
May be hard to use with smaller/newborn babies, as they cannot be easily positioned correctly.
Must feed upright only.
Photo Credit: Tula
Breastfeed baby in a soft structured carrier
Loosen the waistband just slightly to allow the carrier to move down.
Decide which breast to feed on.
On the side baby will feed on, loosen the shoulder strap just enough to lower baby into the correct position (you may also need to loosen the other shoulder strap as well but not as much as the side you are feeding on).
Support baby’s upper back and neck, make sure baby is not curling into his/her chest.
After baby is finished, bring the waistband back up and tightened, and tighten both shoulder straps again. Make sure baby is close enough to kiss and the airway is clear.
Jennifer is breastfeeding in a soft structured carrier
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Esther Wong is a Hong Kong based mother-of-four and a certified babywearing consultant, who is passionate about educating parents and caregivers about its benefits.
Dee Burton was born in Bangkok and has lived in the UK, Australia, and Hong Kong. She has two daughters and is a certified babywearing consultant and textiles designer.
Dee and Esther are co-founders of wrap and sling company Leelaloom Handwoven.