Breastfeeding while Babywearing

Learning to nurse in a carrier can make life with your baby much easier.  Imagine that you’re at the park with your two year old who is running around playing.  Your baby is snuggled against your chest in a soft carrier.  You are pushing your older child on the swing and you notice that your baby is beginning to root.  You lower your carry a bit and help baby latch.  You are able to keep pushing your older child on the swing and are comfortably nursing your sweet baby at the same time.  Being able to nurse in a carrier for some of baby’s frequent feedings can be incredibly helpful.

There are so many benefits of babywearing that I couldn’t mention them all!  (Although this wonderful article by La Leche League includes many of the benefits of babywearing).  One benefit of babywearing is that it makes it very easy for a mother to notice baby’s early “hungry” cues.  Baby will start to turn their head from side to side, open their mouth, put their hands in their mouth, or begin rooting in the carrier when they are hungry.  Catching these early signs of hunger can allow the mother to initiate nursing before the baby becomes distressed.


Notice the early feeding cue: Baby has her mouth open and is beginning to root. These early cues of hunger are very easy to notice if you are wearing your baby.

The Basics

Step One:  Establish your breastfeeding relationship with your baby.  

First, get to know your new nursling.  Help your baby learn to latch.  Get used to breastfeeding yourself.  Even if this is not your first nursling, there can still be a learning period where your baby gets used to nursing.  Take the time you need to establish your nursing relationship.

Step Two:  Master Using Your Carrier.

Likewise, take some time to get used to wearing your baby.  If you are new to babywearing, take some time to get to know your carrier and get comfortable with it.  Visit your local babywearing group while you’re waiting for baby to arrive and practice using your carrier with a doll.  Visit your local group again after baby arrives and get some hands on help with positioning.

Maybe, you’re already a pro at using your carrier and you’re wearing baby on day one.  Your baby may need some time to get used to being worn.  As an anecdote, by the time our third baby arrived, I considered myself to be a pro at babywearing and wrapping in particular.  However, she cried every time I put her in a wrap at first.  I had to warm her up to it.  We spent time sitting on the couch with the wrap just laying on us.  I made sure she was well fed and happy before I wrapped her.  I took some time to figure out what carries she liked the best.  After the first week, she loved being worn, but it was something the two of us had to practice a little to get comfortable.


We started with skin to skin time with the wrap over us and then gradually moved toward wearing while moving about.   Remembering to wait until the baby is fed, changed, and happy when first trying a new carrier can help.

Step Three: Put the Two Together

When you feel that your nursing relationship is well established, your baby is nursing well and you feel very comfortable with your carrier, you can start to combine the two.  Once you are nursing in your carrier, pay close attention to your latch and your baby.  If baby is especially sleepy while nursing, you may want to take baby out of the carrier to nurse to make sure baby nurses well.    Nothing makes baby sleepy quite like being snuggled in a cozy carrier next to their mama.  You may find you want to wake your baby up after sleeping a while in the carrier as well just to be sure that baby is nursing plenty of times during the day.   Each baby is different and it’s important to pay attention to their cues and meet their needs.  

Tips and Tricks for Breastfeeding in a Carrier

Lower Baby to the Height Needed to Breastfeed

Loosen and lower your carry so that your baby is at breast height.  I usually lower until my baby’s chin is at my nipple, but everyone is different and you probably will need to play around with how much you need to lower your baby to nurse comfortably.  You may also need to try a few different carriers or carries to find the one that works best for you to nurse in.  Some people love nursing in mei tais, others love nursing in ring slings.  Some people find it difficult to nurse in one wrap carry, but easy in another.  A carry that you are able to easily raise and lower to adjust will probably work well for you.  

Aim Up!

I know it sounds silly, but the secret is to aim up!  Supporting baby with one hand, lean forward slightly.  With the other hand lift your breast toward baby and help baby latch on.  After you are latched on, stand up straight again. You will probably need to keep a hand on your breast and a hand on baby’s head or an elbow around baby’s head to help baby maintain the latch, especially at first.   Some people find it helpful to put a rolled up wash cloth under the breast to help keep it lifted.  Some people do not ever find nursing in a carrier to be hands free, and that is fine!    

Wear Shirts that are Easy to Pull Down

It’s easiest to nurse in a carrier using a shirt that you can simply lift your breast up and out of.  Lower cut tees and tanks are great.  Nursing tanks and button down shirts are easy as well.  It can be more challenging to nurse in a carrier if you are trying to lift your shirt from the bottom.  Your shirt will might caught in the fabric of the carrier and be difficult to lift.  Shirts that are easy to pull down make nursing in the carrier pretty easy.

If You Want to Cover . . .

You certainly do not need to cover while you are breastfeeding, but if you want to, remember that you should always be able to see your baby’s face.  You can cover the top of your breast, or make a little tent around yourself using a tail of a carrier or a carrier hood. You should not take a blanket or carrier fabric and cover your baby’s entire head.  You need to closely monitor your baby to be sure baby is nursing well and breathing well and this is very difficult to do if you can’t see your baby.  Practicing in front of a mirror can be very helpful.  For the most part, the carrier itself and your baby’s head will provide great cover.  


Always Re-position after Nursing

After nursing, always return baby to the original carry.  Baby should be fully supported through their back, high enough on your body to kiss, and visible to you.  You should always be able to get two fingers under baby’s chin to ensure an open airway.  


After nursing, you will have baby in a lower carry.  Place a hand on baby’s bum and the nape of baby’s neck.  Lean forward slightly and then lift baby up to appropriate position (high enough to kiss).  Then, tighten the rest of the carrier so that baby is well supported in that position.

Video Tutorials

Nursing in a Ring Sling

Nursing in a Mei Tai

Nursing in a Stretchy Wrap

Nursing in a Woven Wrap

Nursing in a Soft Structured Carrier

Enjoy your sweet baby!

Babies are little for such a short time.  Enjoy your sweet baby! Happy nursing and babywearing!  🙂

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