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Having a nursing baby can be tricky- whether you’re traveling, grocery shopping, or just trying to get things done around that house. Especially if you have a young baby who is nursing frequently for long stretches of time. This is where nursing in a baby carrier can come in very handy.
When you’re traveling, it’s often challenging to find a quiet place to nurse, to find the time to nurse, and to find space in your busy schedule.
Obviously it’s top priority to make sure that your baby is fed, but you don’t want to miss out on your trip either. A great solution for this is nursing in a baby carrier.
If you want to travel with your nursing child, I can’t stress enough how helpful this tactic can be. And if you’re not traveling, there are so many other times when this can come in handy.
Once you master this strategy, you no longer have to drop everything whenever your baby needs to nurse. You can put them in the carrier, help them get a good latch, and continue with whatever you were doing.
Once you figure it out, it’s super easy and intuitive. But I have had people tell me they don’t even know where to start, so I thought I’d break it down.
My step-by-step walkthrough below is based on my experience with my Ergobaby carrier, but I have also nursed using other carriers and the basic principles are the same.
How to nurse in a baby carrier
Summary of the 6 steps:
- Snap the sleeping hood on
- Loosen the shoulder straps enough so that your baby sits lower and can lean back away from you a bit
- Position the baby down and to the side so that he/she can latch on
- Lean forward for the initial latch
- Wrap the arm on the side where they are nursing just under their neck to provide extra support
- To switch sides, reposition the baby by shifting and angling them to the other side
It’s that simple! Read on for a more in-depth look at each of the steps.
1. You’re going to start off by snapping on the sleeping hood. Not all carriers have this, but I find it extremely helpful for nursing. It helps to stabilize your baby’s head while they are nursing and discourages them from pulling off to look around all the time.
2. Next, loosen the shoulder straps enough so that your baby sits lower and can lean back away from you a bit.
In the Ergobaby Omni 360 and the Lillebaby models, the release is right where the bottom of the shoulder strap connects to the front panel. In the Ergobaby Original and Ergobaby 360 models, reach up behind you and push up on the bottom of the shoulder clasp until it is at the length you want (the picture below is of the Ergobaby Original model).
It’s important to get a carrier that allows you to loosen the straps easily. Otherwise, it’s really tricky to get the baby low enough to nurse comfortably, especially as they get bigger.
This is why it can be challenging to nurse in a wrap carrier- it can be difficult to loosen it enough to position the baby properly without retying the whole wrap. Then it’s even trickier to get it tight again when they’re done. And if your baby fell asleep while they are nursing you don’t want to have to pull them out to tie the wrap again.
3. Choose the side you will start nursing on. Position the baby so that they are angled to that side and can easily latch on.
4. For the initial latch, it helps to lean forward a little bit (or a lot) so that the baby has easy access and can maneuver their head. Once they have latched on, you can return to an upright position.
5. On the side where they are nursing, wrap your arm just under their neck to provide a little extra support. This helps keep your baby’s latch secure while you are moving. I’ll usually keep it there until my baby is done nursing.
6. Switching sides is simple. When it’s time to switch sides, just reposition the baby angled towards the other side and bend forward again to help them get latched again. Once baby is latched, continue with whatever you were doing!
A few tips for nursing in a baby carrier:
1. Use a nursing cover
Nursing covers can be very helpful for nursing in a baby carrier. First of all, there’s the privacy it provides, if you’re into that sort of thing. But more importantly to me, it prevents my baby from getting distracted while eating.
Even if you have the sleep hood up (which I would suggest, as it helps to stabilize the baby’s head while nursing), they can still peek out the side.
My babies have a tendency to pull off and look around, which can be annoying and uncomfortable. By throwing a nursing cover over the top of the carrier you can minimize distractions and help your baby to focus on the task at hand.
This nursing cover is one of my absolute favorites. It’s been with me all over the world.
I also have this one and really like it. This one is a bit more form-fitting than the other, which is more of a poncho. Either one is an excellent option, it just depends on your preference. And both can be used as car seat covers, an awesome feature that I use all the time!
2. Wear the right top
Make sure you are wearing shirts that allow you to nurse from the TOP and don’t need to be pulled up from the bottom. I’ve made that mistake before and it is soooo frustrating!
At that point, you have to either stretch your shirt (which I’ve done before, desperate times and all that…) or pull your baby out to nurse them. Neither option is ideal, so just be mindful of your wardrobe choices if you’re planning on nursing with the carrier.
I love these shirts because they have a simple lift-up section on top that is perfect for nursing in a baby carrier.
3. Start off nursing standing up
It tends to be easier to nurse in a carrier when you are standing up, so I would start there if you’re new to it.
Standing allows your baby to sit more upright and puts them in a more natural position for nursing. However, nursing in a carrier while sitting down is also possible, it just takes a little more practice.
4. It’s harder with newborns
This method can be tricky with very young babies, just because they are so small and still figuring out the whole nursing thing.
Once again, still totally possible, just don’t get frustrated if you’re trying to figure it out with a tiny infant and they aren’t getting it right away. Keep trying, you’ll both figure it out!
4. Nurse to transition to nap
Nursing in a baby carrier is a great way to transition baby to a nap on the go, given that babies often drift off while nursing. And this is another place where a nursing cover comes in handy.
I’ve found that my babies sleep much longer and more soundly in the carrier if I put the nursing cover over the top of the carrier. The cover helps block out light and noises, allowing baby to get a full nap in. Just be careful that it isn’t getting too hot under there if you’re in a warm climate.
5. Get the right carrier
When you’re looking for a carrier, make sure you get one that has all for the features that you want and need for nursing. The two points that I find absolutely essential are a sleep hood and easy to loosen shoulder straps.
And while I really do love baby wraps, this is one area where I find them to be less than ideal. Set yourself up for success by getting something that has straps that are simple to loosen and tighten while baby stays in the carrier.
6. Keep practicing
Like most things, nursing in the carrier gets easier the more you do it. Both you and your baby will get so familiar with it that you can just pop them in the carrier and they know exactly what to do.
And you’d be surprised at the things you can accomplish while your baby is actively nursing!
Final Thoughts on Nursing in a Baby Carrier
It takes a little practice, but once you get it it’s a piece of cake! And it’s so nice because you don’t have to find a place to sit down or even stop what you were doing.
The other nice thing is that it prevents your baby from throwing off the nursing cover and tends to be a little more discreet. If you care about that kind of thing.
I’ve nursed this way basically anywhere you can think of and usually, no one is even aware that I’m nursing.
I’m sure you can see how this could come in handy while traveling. There is no transition time needed if you’re mid-nursing session and you have to, say, get off a bus or board your plane or check out of your hotel. There’s no interruption if you’re strolling through a museum or eating dinner on the beach or exploring ancient ruins. (And yes, I’ve nursed in all of those situations!)
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. I hope you’ve caught the vision of nursing in a baby carrier. I’ve found it to be a real trip (and sanity) saver!