Science tells us children who have strong emotional attachments with their parents grow up to regulate their emotions better, fight diseases with stronger immune systems, and enjoy greater academic success. With the groundwork of attachment laid between the ages of 0-2, the loving and soothing way we respond to our babies’ earliest cries carries lasting significance.
As a breastfeeding mother, you already enjoy an abundance of precious bonding time, but that’s not the only way to remain closely connected. Baby carriers are an excellent tool to carve out more “snuggle time,” without demanding that the entire world stop.
Looking back, I don’t think my first baby even sat alone in a stroller until he was seven months old! Strapping him to my chest – where he could feel and smell my skin, listen to my heartbeat, breathing and voice, and see that I was physically there for him – just felt right.
As you make your baby registry or consider whether babywearing is something you want to incorporate into your daily routine, consider these benefits…
Benefits of Babywearing
- Gain Freedom & Multi-task. The world tends to shrink after a baby is born – if we allow it to. I remember thinking in that first week, “How will I go anywhere or do anything besides oversee the baby’s eating, diaper changing, and sleeping?” With the baby carrier, I was able to maintain a sense of independence and self -- walking to get my exercise, ducking into a coffee shop, buying groceries, taking my older child to the park, and socializing with other moms. I never had to worry about the baby’s eating or nursing schedule. I figured out how to breastfeed in the carrier, and he simply dozed off comfortably when he was done eating. It was totally empowering.
- Keep Baby Safe & Comfortable While Traveling. Babywearing was a Godsend in airports and when traveling. The changing landscape and schedule can be stressful for a young baby, but my children felt comforted, no matter where they were, because they were close to me. Lugging around suitcases and diaper bags, you really need all the hands you can get!
- Remain Closely Bonded With Baby After You Go Back To Work. The pain of separation upon returning to work is fierce. This pain is further compounded when you realize you still have to make dinner, fold laundry, wash dishes, and pay bills once you get home. Rather than breastfeeding and putting the baby into a crib, you can breastfeed and wear the baby while you go about your post-work business. The baby feels snug and secure against you, and you can look down at that precious little face whenever you need a pick-me-up. Sometimes you need that adorable reminder: Yes, this is why I work so hard… to be a role model to you, and provide you with what you need.
- Build Your Milk Supply. The body works in mysterious ways. If you worry about a drop in milk supply, the first advice nurses give is to “get more skin to skin contact,” which triggers the release of oxytocin needed to boost your milk supply. Babywearing is a great way to do just that!
- Soothe The Fussy Feeder. As my baby got older, he got considerably wigglier, too. Once babies get rolling, crawling, and interested in walking, those long breastfeeding sessions that were once so natural can become a bit more challenging. I gave him plenty of time for exploring the floor, but babywearing close to feeding and sleeping times helped me maintain my milk supply even if he spent less time at the breast, and made him more able to focus on feedings while cuddled up without his arms and legs flailing about wildly.
- Encourage Longer Naps. Some parents are blessed with babies who love a good stretch of three-hour sleep right out of the starting gate. For others, sleep is a mysterious spell that seems to come and go at random. My guy loved to be close to me, and I found he would nap much longer if I was wearing him in the early months.
- Lessen Baby’s Acid Reflux and GERD Symptoms. Keeping babies upright after eating helps keep the milk down, so they don’t spit up as much or awaken a few minutes later with gas pains. (You can read about experiences from moms who consider babywearing an integral part of their babies’ treatment for these conditions here and here.)
- Be The Mom You Want To Be. There are different schools of mothering that vary by personal choice. For me, personally, the “cry-it-out” method went against my mothering instincts, and I knew it wasn’t the right choice for our family. I want my kids to look back at me as a pillar of love and support, as their superhero – and babywearing encouraged me to be that warm, comforting presence, without feeling held.
- Get A Break. To preserve your sanity and be your best self, you need some time without a baby latched or strapped to you – especially as the months wear on. Let others wear the baby – such as Daddy when possible. My husband loved to wear our baby whenever we went for walks together, and that helped my body and back have a much-needed break! He loved the baby snuggle time, and since he couldn’t help feed our son, babywearing gave him a chance for skin-to-skin time and bonding. He even would sit on a big yoga ball at the desk, gently bouncing him during naps, while working from home. The gentle movement and upright position of the carrier helped the baby have quality naps in the early weeks and months. Best Baby Carriers & products for breastfeeding while babywearing
Best Baby Carriers & Products For Breastfeeding While Babywearing
I had four different carriers for different situations, but the Moby Wrap and the Ergobaby were my favorites. The Moby took a little more figuring out initially because you have to wrap and knot it around your body in a certain way, but it was so comfortable -- the weight distribution was good and I could cradle the baby easily for feedings. There is no other wrap I’ve found that I love as much as the Moby for the first 3-4 months. Baby is cradled so close, like an extension of you! The Ergo was a quick, easy carrier for vacationing and adventuring out into the world, and we used it for years. It was so comfortable, even as the babies got heavier, and I love the outer pocket. We just latched the buckles and away we went. This was also the more “manly” carrier of the two for my husband’s babywearing duties.
Once you have your carrier, you’ll need chic, comfortable, and versatile clothing that lets you slide in and out of nursing as often as required. The Marvella Nursing Plunge T-Shirt Bra is the perfect bra for nursing and babywearing, with discreet nursing clips and easy fold-down cups that allow full-access. When you’re not feeding the baby, you’ll find the bra to be extremely comfortable, yet supportive. The French Terry Tank Top is the top choice for babywearing breastfeeding moms, with its easy, one-handed, pull-aside breastfeeding access and gentle support. Having the right nursing clothes makes the difference between a frustrating learning curve versus having the comfort and confidence to make babywearing and breastfeeding work.
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Be Brave! Wear a baby!
In the beginning, I was determined to wear my baby because I felt it was the right type of comfort he needed to eat, digest, soothe himself, and fall asleep. Really, in the end, it was for me just as much. I cherished the closeness, feeling their peachy heads under my chin, and keeping them in “kissable” range. These are treasured memories you can only savor for such a short, short while.
It may seem like forever that you “just can’t set the baby down” or “get anything done,” but as the saying goes: the days are long, but the years are short. So wear your baby as often as you need to, and revel in the beauty of the closeness. Sure, I felt a little clumsy my first few times babywearing and breastfeeding. But motherhood is all about adaptation and finding our groove. So, be brave! Practice, practice, practice! You’ll get the hang of it in no time, and you’ll be able to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, with greater confidence. One day you will look back to the period of babywearing, not only as a survival tactic, but as an extension of your generous love and a special part of your early bonding experience.
More Babywearing and breastfeeding resources:
- Check out this site for great tips and tutorials on breastfeeding while babywearing: http://www.ohlovelyday.com/2016/09/how-to-breastfeed-while-babywearing.html
- Find local support and other babywearing parents: https://babywearinginternational.org/chapters/
- Learn more about the science behind babywearing and attachment parenting: http://www.parentingscience.com/attachment-parenting.html
- Learn more about Kindred Bravely nursing apparel: https://www.kindredbravely.com/pages/about