Nursing in Carriers

Nursing in a Catbird Baby PIkkolo!

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, we figured it was a good time to talk about nursing in carriers.  We celebrated World Breastfeeding Week with the Breastfeed, Chicago group.  Sara and I presented a session on breastfeeding while babywearing after The Big Latch On was complete.  

Here is some info about their group for any locals:

Nursing photo from the Breastfeed Chicago event!

Nursing photo from the Breastfeed Chicago event!

This post consists ENTIRELY of photos of moms nursing in their carriers. Sometimes you can tell, but sometimes you can’t!  That is also why some of the photos have a baby that is positioned lower than we normally recommend.  And we encourage baby to be tightened up and “kissable” after nursing is complete.

During the session, we did demos of various carrier types, and gave tips on how to successfully nurse in them.   We talked about Pouches, Bag style, narrow based carriers, wraps, mei tais, ring slings, and buckle carriers/ soft structured carriers (SSC’s).  While I like my weighted doll, it was fabulous to have moms who were able to do real, live demonstrations.  It was also great to see some moms nursing in a carrier for the first time, or feeling more comfortable nursing in a carrier because of the discussions we had.  I thought it would be nice to share a few of the tips and general things we went over.

Note:  Though this post is focused on breastfeeding, bottle feeding in a carrier is ALSO a fantastic option.  It’s a great way for dad, the babysitter, or other family members to help out in an environment (the carrier) that the baby feels safe and comfortable in.  One of the other BWI chapters did a fantastic blog post on bottle feeding in a carrier.  It can be found HERE.


Breastfeeding in a Carrier, the Basics:

It’s best to learn to nurse, and learn to use your carrier SEPARATELY before trying to do the two things together.  We recommend the following:

1.  Learn how to breastfeed (or rather wait for your baby to learn how to breastfeed, you really just learn how to help them if needed…)  

    • Make sure breastfeeding is well established.  It’s really important to make sure breastfeeding is going well before nursing in carriers, especially for moms who haven’t been breastfeeding very long.  Breastfeeding is a skill, sometimes it starts off wonderfully with a bang.  Sometimes it’s a bit of a learning curve for both mom AND baby, and can take a bit longer to figure everything out.  
    • If the baby is latching well, removing milk effectively, gaining weight at a recommended level, and moms nipples have healed if there was any trauma, then it’s a great time to think about nursing in your carriers.

2.  Learn how to use your carrier (if you’re a new parent and haven’t used one yet).  This may take a few minutes, or a few days, or even a few weeks, depending on how everything is going as a new parent. 

3.  When you’re comfortable with 1. and 2. above, put the carrier on, get the babies mouth to your nipple, and nurse them. 🙂  That sounds easy right?  For some new moms, it’s just that easy.  Other moms find that some of the tips below help (these are tips from the session handout).

One nursing session from 4 different angles

One nursing session from 4 different angles


General Tips for nursing in a carrier:

  • You can breast or bottle feed in almost any carrier type.

  • You will probably prefer to use the carrier you are most comfortable with.

  • Other caregivers can easily use baby carriers to bottle feed by just loosening the carrier up a little, and offering the bottle.

  • Practice at home first, in front of a mirror.

  • Latch baby/ begin nursing before baby is starving/ upset.  It will help prevent the frantic, noisy baby cries, which will help you stay calm.

  • Washcloths, burp rags, or a hand can be used to help support the breast.

  • In general, the carrier must be loosened, and baby can be moved or “bounced” down to the breast.  Some moms also drop the waist of their carrier if it is a mei tai or SSC.

  • Some moms (particularly shorter or larger chested moms) find it is MUCH easier to get the baby into a good position by shifting the whole base of their mei tai or SSC to the opposite hip that the baby will nurse from.  This is easy to do after loosening straps if you hold the base of the carrier body and shift the entire carrier to the opposite hip.  The base of the carrier sometimes looks more like a hip carry than a front carry in this scenario.  Sometimes this really helps for shorter moms as their kids get older as well.

  • When learning, it can help to sit down, loosen carrier, latch baby, then resume activity.

  • It doesn’t matter if the breast comes to the baby’s mouth, or if mouth moves to the breast, as long as the two connect with a good latch.

  • Always be aware of the way baby looks and sounds when nursing.  A baby nursing in a carrier should sound the SAME as a baby nursing who ISN’T in a carrier.

  • ALWAYS return the baby to an upright and supported position after nursing (if nursing is in a more cradled position).  EVEN if baby has fallen asleep.

  • Always re-tighten the carrier so the baby is kissable after nursing.


Toddler nursing

Toddler nursing


“Hands free” nursing:

  • Hands free nursing is *technically* possible, but not likely with young babies.

    • A loosened carrier needs to be monitored closely to keep baby secure.

    • Young babies typically do not have adequate head, neck, and trunk control to nurse unassisted.

    • Think of it more as “one handed nursing” when they are younger.

  • Nursing in a carrier gets easier and easier as baby gets older.

  • It’s a truly great option with toddlers.

    • Children eventually get enough control and awareness to “take over”.

    • Older children often hold the breast themselves, and require no adjustment or assistance other than a little loosening of the carrier.

R. nurses to sleep


Clothing choices:

  • Baby carriers sometimes shift clothing, or make adjusting clothes for nursing a bit more tricky.

  • Consider whether you will pull down your shirt, or pull up your shirt (or open a little slot).

  • Two layers offer discretion and comfort for buckles and straps.  Two layers also help for buckles and mei tais, one layer can stay under the waist band/ buckle or strap, one layer can sit over it for additional discretion (or to hide any spots you might be less comfortable with).


YOUR turn!

If you are a nursing mom, and haven’t ever tried to nurse in a carrier before, now is a great time to try!  Or if you’re a bottle feeding mom, give it a go as well!  We’d love to hear how it works for you.  Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Playdate this Friday, July 26, 2013

The normal playdate meeting that was scheduled for Friday in Mundelein is being tagged onto a playdate happening close by a bit later in the day.  Sara is planning a regular playdate at Warren Township Park for 11 am on Friday morning.  The location of the park is about 10 minutes north of Mundelein Playdate meeting.

And to entice you further, we’re including some photos from last month’s park playdate meet up!

Preschool Snacking at Kracklauer Park

Preschool Snacking at Kracklauer Park- 4 year 11 month old in a Toddler Kinderpack with the hood hanging out

If someone would prefer to just swap carriers in or out with Heather in Mundelein on Friday, that is also an option. Send an email to or contact via Heather Facebook to swap carriers in Mundelein.

Toddler Snuggles at the June Park Playdate!

Toddler Snuggles at the June Park Playdate!

Otherwise, plan to visit Sara at Warren Township Park.  Warren Park is *technically* Gurnee, but still really close for those who were planning to come to Cygnus.  Enter the park on Almond Road.  It is at the Southwest corner of Almond and Washington streets, and only about 10 minutes north of Cygnus Lactation.  If a BWI member plans to check in our check out any carriers, please send an email to or send Heather a facebook message through our closed group.  Sara will be bringing ONE SMALL suitcase for swapping stuff out.  This won’t be a regular meeting, but will be an opportunity to swap carriers in or out. It’s also an opportunity to drop off carriers that are due.  We just need to know what you’re interested in by Thursday mid-day!

Back Snuggles in an Action Baby Carrier (ABC)

Back Snuggles in an Action Baby Carrier (ABC)

Warren township does have a sand area that also includes some water features/ spouts, and regular bathrooms with flushing toilets and sinks.  The park is lot of fun for the kids.  A little more parental effort is needed to keep track of kids who run/ take off in parks, since there are some openings to the outside, parking lots, etc.  Just wanted everyone to be aware; it’s a great park, but not a small one you can just let preschoolers run wild and still be able to see them everywhere from sitting on a bench.  It’s a favorite park for some of our families, because there are great structures for younger and also older children (and adults too)!  If your kids like sand/ water sand, consider bringing a change of clothes to leave in the car. 😉

Park Playdate!!

Warren Township Park is located in the Warren Township Center (Campus), located at 17801 W. Washington Street, Gurnee, IL.
Here is their website information:


A World of Possibilities

A world of possibilities.  Hmm.  When I first saw the theme for this year’s International Babywearing Week (IBW), I’ll be honest, I really had no idea what that was supposed to mean.  After I thought about it a little more, I think that it’s supposed to be interpreted individually.  If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will tell me.  🙂

The world of possibilities babywearing has opened for me may be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than the world of possibilities it has opened for my friends, my neighbors, and those I’ve never met before.  So I guess I can only share what it means to me.  So here goes…

It means more opportunity. Opportunity to learn, interact, or visit with others while my little one slumbered on my chest.  It meant going to weddings and feeling calm while my family with little kids were running around chasing the children like crazy people.  Ok, well aren’t all families crazy anyway?  So maybe that one’s a bit of a stretch…

It means bonding. My husband could bond with our boys through wearing them.  Whether it was the Baby Bjorn early on or the ergo sport later, he has been able to also care for them the way they’re accustomed to being comforted with me during the weekday.

It means protection.  People seem less likely to want to put their dirty hands all over your newborn when they’re wrapped up tightly to your body.  Little kids reach for feet, not baby faces.  And it means comforting them when they’re sick (and fall asleep on your back in a wrap… and let you get them in bed still asleep!!).

It means freedom.  It means vacation.  Hiking and camping in tents.  Exposing our kids to nature. In bear country in the Rocky Mountains.  And the Smoky Mountains.  Even though we call Illinois our home.  It means we can take the train downtown and not HAVE to lug a stroller around.  Don’t get me wrong, I have strollers.  I’ve been thankful to occasionally use the jogging stroller to exercise- though it’s not a very pretty or fast sight.  I’ve been thankful for their storage when Christmas shopping.  It just means I have an OPTION.

It means I could be a more “lazy” mom.  Babies who are worn cry significantly less than babies who aren’t worn in those early days, and also beyond.  Babies cry for all sorts of reasons.  Sickness, overstimulation, health problems, missing naps, the reasons can be endless.  I’m all for making my life easier.  And opportunity to feel less stressed?  I’ll take it!

And as my child gets older, ahem, I’ve also been known to use it to calm my kids down.  I’ve been overheard on numerous occasions saying “that’s it, if you can’t XYZ you WILL go uppie until you can calm down”.  XYZ means anything in my world from running into traffic to hitting his older brother to touching every.possible.thing.breakable in a store.  Sometimes I’m surprised by the hands up in the air wanting to jump up for a break.  Sometimes I’m quickly tossing him on my back.  I then feel him sink against me and settle quickly, contently.  Sometimes it’s instead it’s after a momentary yet futile resistance. 🙂  A few minutes in that safe place can calm the overtired, overstimulated toddler or preschooler just as easily as it does a baby.  Photo  of his favorite beloved Kinderpack courtesy of Kristy Garceau Photography:

And being part of this BWI organization means I can help other caregivers.  It’s really a “caregiver to caregiver” organization.  It doesn’t mean I have to know EVERYTHING about babywearing or  know EVERY single fabric, length, or fiber of carriers out there (and believe me I don’t).  It also means I can defer to others who have more experience or knowledge of other specific carriers or carries.

It means I can take what I’ve learned from other caregivers, and share that knowledge with other caregivers.  This can be a foster mom who just wants ONE carrier to help juggle her day, a nanny who’s passionate about caring for her littles and wants a few options, or even a dear friend who wants 20 to play with them all.


We’d love to hear your stories!  And don’t forget to send me your photos for the contest by Sunday evening to  Sunday evening we’ll also be letting you know what special raffles and giveaways we will have over next week.  Stay tuned for some items that could be coming your way!