Questions about feeding your baby consume many parents – when, how much, how long – out of all the myriad advice what do you listen to? Most answers will depend on a range of individual factors, but the good news is that, yes in theory there are ways to support mobile feeding using slings, wraps and carriers so we're talking to Izmi's Expert Carrying Consultant Emily Williamson to answer your feeding whilst babywearing FAQs!
If you’re breastfeeding, then there’s the added babywearing bonus that holding your baby close to your body (particularly if there is skin to skin contact), helps to boost your milk supply and has been shown to support successful breastfeeding for longer.
And even if you don’t find it practical to feed your baby in your sling, many find that the movement of carrying their baby in a parent-facing, up-right position helps little ones to pass uncomfortable wind, and eases symptoms of colic and reflux.
So what are the realities of using wraps and carriers for feeding on the go? Keep reading to find out more...
Can I breastfeed in my sling or carrier?
Yes, it may be possible to use your carrier, wrap or sling to support discrete breastfeeding, though when and how this works varies greatly between individuals. Before attempting to breastfeed whilst using any sling or carrier, do make sure that you are confident both with breastfeeding and with using your sling, and read our advice on slings and breastfeeding below.
Breastfeeding with your baby in a sling or carrier is not always possible for everyone and will depend on your baby’s strength and their preferred feeding position, your body shape and the positions possible in the carrier you are using.
Do give it a try if you’d like to, but don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work easily for you at first. You may find it works better when your baby is a little older.
Is feeding when babywearing hands free?
When your baby is very young and can’t support and control their own head you can use a carrier as a breastfeeding aid. For most people it’s not safe to attempt hands-free breastfeeding with a very small baby; you will still need to use a hand or arm to support your baby’s head when they are feeding. However, your baby’s weight will be supported, you may get one of your arms free and some level of mobility.
Ensure that your baby can breathe easily while they are feeding; do not use any fabric to hold your baby’s head into your breast and do not cover their head or face while they are feeding. Always return your baby to a higher, tighter safe carrying position with their head above your breasts as soon as they have finished feeding.
Once your baby has good head control and can latch and unlatch unaided (by around 5-6 months), then you may find it possible to breastfeed in any sling or carrier with your baby held in an upright off-centred position. You simply need to loosen the sling just enough to lower the baby to the breast. Ensure that your baby’s head is not covered, that they can breathe easily. Again, always return them to a higher safe carrying position when they are finished.
What about bottle feeding in my sling or carrier?
For those of you not / no longer breastfeeding, you may still find your wrap or carrier useful as a feeding aid. As with breastfeeding, loosen your sling and re-position your baby in their preferred feeding position, ensuring that no fabric is covering their airways, and you can see their face at all times. You may still need to use an arm to support the head of a younger baby while they feed, but your carrier can support their weight and allow you some ability to move around. When you’ve finished feeding, always return your baby to a safe upright position high on your chest.
So give feeding in your wrap or carrier a try! Be patient, and if it doesn’t work straight away try not to be discouraged. All good things take time for you and your baby to master 😊
Happy feeding time!