Babywearing and Breastfeeding – Your Ultimate Guide
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BABYWEARING AND BREASTFEEDING – YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE
I will never forget the first time I saw a mom babywearing and breastfeeding at the same time. It was in a grocery store, and she had a toddler with her. I was so impressed with that mom’s clever multitasking skills.
You may have heard about babywearing. It’s an age-old practice. Moms have worn their babies for as long as there have been babies and cloth.
Some people consider it a parenting practice, while others merely see it as a convenient way to manage life with a baby.
Babywearing and breastfeeding can complement each other perfectly.
Keep reading to find out the many benefits of babywearing, what you need to know about safety, and tips on how to breastfeed while wearing your baby.
WHAT IS BABYWEARING
Babywearing is simply the practice of wearing or carrying your baby in some form of baby carrier, wrap, or sling.
Some moms wear their babies almost all the time. This is often referred to as attachment parenting.
Other moms wear their little ones when it makes sense.
Babywearing can be a lifesaver for the mom whose baby who is fussy and is only calm and happy when being held. It allows mom to keep her baby happy yet still get things done.
Taking walks is a favorite time for many mamas to practice babywearing.
Babywearing is not just for moms. Any parent can nurture their baby in this way. Grandparents and babysitters can wear a baby too.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BABYWEARING?
Wearing your baby is a wonderful and convenient way to bond with them. Research has shown it enhances bonding (Source).
Your newborn has been carried in your womb for her entire existence. Babywearing will provide a gentle transition from the womb to her new world on the outside.
Your baby will be rocked by your movements, just like she was in your womb. With her head against your chest, she will be calmed by the sound of your heartbeat.
Babywearing increases how long a mom breastfeeds (Source).
Babywearing is an excellent way to meet your baby’s needs for warmth and closeness.
It gives you the opportunity to do something productive while caring for your little one. Grocery shopping, vacuuming, taking your daily walk.
If you have a high-needs baby, you can wear them while you go about your daily activities.
Babies who are carried more than average are calmer and cry less as a result (Source). Cultures where babies are held almost constantly have babies who are in a quiet, alert state most of the time. They rarely cry for more than brief periods.
A baby who is carried facing away from you will be provided with an excellent view of the world. The stimulation will enhance their neurologic development and expose them to the exciting variations in their environment.
Babywearing with a garment like the NüRoo designed nor skin-to-skin contact may decrease postpartum depression (Source).
Some mamas believe the constant contact improves their milk supply.
If a baby has reflux, it is recommended to keep them in an upright position after feedings for about twenty minutes. Using a carrier will allow you to do that and get other things done.
Less time laying flat on their back means a decreased incidence of developing a flat head.
BABYWEARING AND ATTACHMENT PARENTING
Attachment parenting is a philosophical approach to parenting that encourages babywearing, empathy, and responsiveness.
In the book, Attachment Parenting by Sears and Sears, they promote these seven practices:
- Birth Bonding
- Belief in Baby’s Cries – Read and respond to your baby’s cues
- Balance and Boundaries
- Beware of Baby Trainers
You can see that you don’t have to practice attachment parenting to babywear, but babywearing is an essential component of attachment parenting.
BREASTFEEDING IN A BABY CARRIER
How To Nurse While Babywearing
Place your baby in the desired nursing position in the carrier.
Different carriers will allow for different positions.
Some carriers like the Ergobaby Omni 360 will work best with an upright Position.
The Baby K’Tan works with a variety of positions.
Adjust the carrier so your baby is at the right height to latch on.
Adjust your clothing to expose your breast.
Latch your baby on.
Depending on the size of your breast you may need to support it throughout the feeding.
Tips For Breastfeeding While Babywearing
- Don’t try to master babywearing and breastfeeding at the same time. Wait until you are feeling confident with each separately before you combine them.
- You will know you are ready from a breastfeeding point of view when you can latch easily and are not having any discomfort. I like to say it’s when breastfeeding has gone on autopilot.
- From the perspective of babywearing, you want to feel physically comfortable and be confident that your baby is in a safe position.
- I recommend practicing at home before trying breastfeeding in a baby carrier. It can help to sit or stand in front of a mirror.
- The first few times you practice how to breastfeed while babywearing, choose a time when your baby is calm and not ravenously hungry.
- Wear clothes that are breastfeeding-friendly.
The Kindred Bravely Bamboo Nursing and Maternity Tulip Hem top will provide easy access to your breasts while allowing you to be discreet. Their Organic Cotton Nursing and Maternity Henley Short Sleeve Shirt is another good choice.
Bearsland tops and dresses are yet another babywearing while nursing-friendly option in a variety of styles.
POSSIBLE RISKS OF BABYWEARING
There are some potential risks of wearing a baby.
Suffocation if a baby’s face is pressed against the adult’s chest or his airway is compromised by his neck being bent towards his chest (Source).
Infant hip dysplasia if a baby’s hips are not appropriately positioned.
Babywearing can cause back pain in the adult doing the wearing.
Keep reading for how to babywear safely.
BABYWEARING SAFETY GUIDELINES
- Always follow these babywearing safety precautions. Make sure you can always see your baby’s face easily. It should not be pressed into your body.
- Don’t let the fabric cover your baby’s face.
- Your baby’s chin needs to be off of her chest.
- The baby should be high enough that you can comfortably kiss the top of her head.
- Choose a carrier that fits you properly.
- Make sure your carrier allows you to position your baby so his thighs are supported and hips are bent and allowed to spread apart (Source).
- Keep an eye and ear out for signs that all is well. Make sure you can see your baby’s face and listen to be sure they are breathing normally.
BABY WEARING BACK PAIN
While there are many benefits to babywearing, there can be a downside. Some moms experience back pain from wearing their little ones.
Follow these guidelines to help avoid back pain.
- When choosing a carrier, look for one that will distribute your baby’s weight evenly across your hips and shoulders.
- To reduce back strain, wear your baby at a height so you can easily lean down and kiss the top of their head.
- Make sure to use a carrier that keeps your baby close to your body.
- Adjust straps around your waist and on your shoulders so that your baby’s weight is evenly distributed.
- Listen to your body. If you are spending a lot of time wearing your baby and you are experiencing back pain, try decreasing the amount of time you use the carrier or sling.
Choosing a different carrier may provide relief from back discomfort.
WHEN CAN YOU START BABYWEARING?
You can start wearing your baby as soon as they are born.
The NuRoo is perfect for newborns when you want to get in a lot of skin-to-skin time.
Carriers and slings usually have guidelines for how much a baby should weigh to use their carrier safely.
The Baby K’Tan is suitable for a newborn and up to 35 pounds.
A baby needs to be at least seven pounds to use most of the Ergobaby carriers.
CAN YOU BABYWEAR TWINS?
Babywearing twins is possible. I saw a mom in Target once who had one baby in a front carrier and another baby in a back carrier.
In fact, there are baby carriers specifically designed for twins!
The TwinGo Carrier has earned a 4.4 Star rating on Amazon.
The Malishastik Twin Ring Sling is perfect for the mom who prefers a sling-style of carrier.
One thing you will want to take into consideration is two babies will weigh twice as much, so you may not be able to wear them together for as long as you can a single baby.
HOW LONG CAN YOU BABY WEAR?
Follow the weight guidelines for your particular carrier.
Listen to your body. If you start having back pain as soon as you put your baby on, it might be time to stop babywearing or switch to a back carrier. Obviously, you can’t breastfeed with a back carrier.
As your baby gets older, he may start moving around too much for your comfort. This is a sign that it’s time to switch to a back carrier or stop babywearing.
Another sign that your baby is over being worn is if she repeatedly pushes away or cries in the carrier.
CHOOSING A BABY CARRIER THAT IS COMPATIBLE WITH BREASTFEEDING
You might want to purchase several different types of carriers and try them out to see which one enables you to breastfeed while wearing your baby comfortably. Keep the one that works best and return the others.
You can also ask friends if you can borrow their carrier to try it out and decide if it is a style that will work for you and be comfortable.
In a structured carrier, look for adjustable straps and waistbands.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BABYWEARING AND BREASTFEEDING
Wearing your baby is not only convenient, but it has many benefits. Learning how to combine babywearing and breastfeeding will allow you to get so much done in your day. You’ll be amazed.
It is a learned skill, so be patient with yourself and your baby. Once you get the hang of it you will love being one of those amazing multitasking mamas.