Babywearing and breastfeeding.
December 27, 2012 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Which wrap or sling is best for hands-free newborn breastfeeding?

I'm 33 weeks pregnant with my second baby. When he comes, my first will be only 18 months. I hope to wear baby #2 most of the time to keep my hands free to deal with baby #1. I will also be breastfeeding.

So, what is the best style of baby carrier for breastfeeding a newborn? I already have a structured carrier (the Infantino Breathe) from last time for when he's older. It seems like there are two choices- a wrap style like the Moby or a ring sling like the Maya. I'm not too concerned with privacy or style. I know it's probably a matter of personal preference, but I'm asking anyway.

(1) Is one of these definitely better for breastfeeding?

(2) Is one more convenient? I understand the Moby is more challenging to tie, but you get used to it. Will I need to retie it often, especially with a young toddler crawling all over me tugging on it?

(3) What about switching sides? Will I have to take the baby out and redo everything each time, and how difficult is that with the Moby vs. Maya?

(4) Would you recommend a different brand or a completely different style? I won't make my own unless there's literally no sewing.
posted by that's how you get ants to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Consider a woven wrap instead of the moby. Works up to preschooler, usable for back carries too and you can get a high back carry which makes almost all babies happy because they can see what's going on. Usually for breastfeeding I'd recommend a ring sling (didn't work for me but does work for most). The Ergo was great for us starting at 3 months or so and was a fine carrier for breastfeeding/switching sides/popping in and out. The Infantino I wouldn't really recommend since baby dangles on his/her crotch and that's maybe not so comfy, and also it has no hip belt and will probably be hard on your back (of course if it works for you, by all means, keep using it, these are just general ideas about which carriers work best).
posted by The Toad at 2:00 PM on December 27, 2012

Congratulations! Mine are 19 months apart, and I took an approach much like you're anticipating. It worked really quite well - kept baby cozy and gave me two hands to deal with toddler.

I used a ring-style sling way back then (15 years ago). After getting over the initial fear of baby falling out, it was so easy to get him in and out of there, which was super nice. And as he was a way more cuddly baby than his brother, it was good on many levels.

I didn't usually breastfeed with baby in the sling itself - can't really chase a toddler and breastfeed at the same time (or at least I couldn't, anyway). Although if it was just a little 'comfort' and not a full on 'meal', feeding from the sling worked fine. Full on feeding sessions were mostly scheduled/orchestrated around toddler naps and other quiet (or dual-caregiver) times. At least with my two, baby was not going to concentrate on eating if big brother was doing something interesting.

Good luck with it! The first 6-9 months are tough, but it gets easier and easier as it goes on.
posted by agentmitten at 2:07 PM on December 27, 2012

I have no experience with a wrap, but I was never able to nurse, hands-free or otherwise, using a ring-sling.
posted by looli at 2:07 PM on December 27, 2012

We have a K-Tan wrap, which is kind of like a Moby except that it's pre-tied. Very convenient! Not sure if it (or anything) will work for totally hands-free breastfeeding; my baby always needed support.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:14 PM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't have personal experience with it, but I really wanted to try the KoalaKin pouch, which is designed just for this.
posted by wyzewoman at 2:21 PM on December 27, 2012

I have a hard time picturing hands-free nursing a newborn while chasing a toddler too. The moby doesn't really position a newborn right for nursing, and with a sling I'd be worried about making sure a newborn remained properly positioned for breathing. You could probably do a sort of one-armed nursing with a sling, though. When the baby is a bit older (3-4 months?) I think any carrier could potentially work.
posted by yarly at 2:24 PM on December 27, 2012

My vote would be for the Moby, primarily because it distributes the weight of the baby more evenly between your shoulders and on your hips, and because the baby is centered while carrying, you'd just need to scoot the baby toward one breast to the other for feeding.

With the Maya, it sounds like it'd be pretty trivial to nurse on one side, but their breastfeeding video seems to indicate you'd need to put the sling on the other shoulder to nurse on the other side ("make sure baby's feet point toward the ring"). I'd be happy to be corrected on this, but that's what it seems like based on the video.

1. I'd be inclined to say the Moby but I don't think this is definitive - what works great for some people might be awful for others. As an example, I have very large breasts, so I wasn't able to use a ring sling comfortably AT ALL - there was no room for the baby! I found the Moby (and eventually the Ergo) to be a much better fit for us.

2. I'd say the ring sling is probably more convenient, but I don't recall having to re-tie the Moby very often. That said, I didn't have a toddler pulling on it either...

3. Moby seems like the winner here.

4. I love, love, love my Ergo. Easy to get on and off, works for front carry or back carry, and distributes baby's weight between your shoulders and hips, and isn't a crotch-dangler. Another good option might be the Boba Carrier. The Infantino-type and BabyBjorn-type carriers can be hard on baby's back (and yours too, incidentally). Is there a babywearing group where you live? They often have carriers available for trying out so you can get a feel for how it fits/works before you spend a bunch of money on it.
posted by meggan at 2:53 PM on December 27, 2012

I also used a k'tan with my newborn -- like ThePinkSuperhero said, it wasn't totally hands free since the baby still needed some support, but I found it a million times easier to use than the Moby. At almost 5 months, he still snuggles up and nurses in it pretty easily if we're on the go. (I also have nothing but good things to say about my Beco Gemini if you're ever in the market for an easy-to-nurse-in soft structured carrier.)
posted by ThatSomething at 3:03 PM on December 27, 2012

I used a woven wrap for breast feeding, though I also had a ring sling and Mei Tai (like an ergo, but with ties instead of buckles). It was super easy to BF in public, at home, sitting, standing, walking, etc.

I did use a ring sling more for my younger kid than my older-- mostly because actually getting the wrap on while chasing the big kid just took too long! (You absolutely can leave it on all the time, though, and I pretty much lived in a nursing tank and wrap with my first baby.)
posted by instamatic at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2012

Nthing all those who couldn't nurse in a ring sling. I could never figure out the wraps, so nursing in carriers didn't happen until mine was big enough for her Beco Gemini, which I love love love.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:11 PM on December 27, 2012

I've used a bunch of different carriers and I think for your purposes, a Sleepy Wrap is the way to go. It's like a Moby only stretchy. You tie it once and can pop the baby in and out without having to re-tie. The baby is snug and safe and the wrap is super comfortable. Sleepy Wraps are cheap too -$40 last time I looked!

When the babe is a little older, say six months or so, switch to an Ergo for general carrying purposes. I found the Ergo waist band too restrictive on my newly c-sectioned belly and the baby didn't feel secure before 5-6 months (even with the infant insert). I LOVE my Ergo and still carry my 2 1/2 yr old around in it. Splurge for the little snap on purse pouch they offer. often has them deeply discounted.

I didn't find ring slings very comfortable, probably because I was so used to having the kids weight distributed over both shoulders and my waist. I did/do use it for quick trips into the store to grab milk, but that's about it. If you get a ring sling, get one with a Velcro or Zippered pocket in the tail - so handy for a wallet and keys.

I never did get to breast feed my kids (allergic to milk & soy protein in my BM and I'm a Veg) but I've seen lots of women accomplish the feat in a Sleepy Wrap. Congrats on the new babe!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:38 PM on December 27, 2012

Sleepy wrap. It's the best!
posted by medusa at 8:52 PM on December 27, 2012

Thanks everyone! So it sounds like breastfeeding while wearing a baby is not as effortless as some would have you believe, so I will go with what seems snugglier to me, which is a center hold. There's a store near me that sells lots of wraps, so I'll go try out the Moby, K'Tan, and Sleepy Wrap (future googlers: it's now known as the Boba Wrap).

Also, I have read some of the not so great stuff about the Infantino carrier. If this baby does get really into being carried I was going to look into different structured carriers at some point.
posted by that's how you get ants at 11:52 AM on December 29, 2012

Well, I ended up with a Sleepy Wrap because I came across one for $16 at my favorite consignment store. Baby's here already, and he definitely sleeps in it! As far as "hands free breastfeeding," ha! Somehow I forgot that breastfeeding a newborn requires three hands, at the very least, plus a few pillows and maybe a rolled up towel or two.
posted by that's how you get ants at 11:15 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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