Feeding Baby On the Go, Hands Free
“If evolution were true, mothers would have more than two hands.”
There’s never enough hands to go around, especially when there’s a new baby in the family. And today’s parents are on the go so much that babies have to be portable. Hands free baby feeding devices have hit the market running. Bottle propers and adjustable “hands” that hold things for baby while he’s in the car seat are hot items.But hands free baby feeding does not have to mean hands off. It’s possible for mom to meet baby’s needs on the go, easily and discretely. A baby sling is an invaluable tool for the mother who needs her hands free. It’s not too hard to learn how to get baby positioned at the breast so you can be off and chasing your toddler or meeting baby’s needs while out and about. If you are bottle feeding your baby, doing so in a sling can provide the much needed cuddle time while still allowing you to move around while feeding baby.
Breastfeeding in Your Sling
To nurse in the standard cradle position, first, put the sling on loosely and place baby inside while you continue to support her with your arms. Sit down and get into a comfortable nursing position. Latch baby on and then adjust the sling on both sides and in the middle until it is supporting baby’s weight and holding her cradling her head while she nurses.
One of the keys to properly supporting a nursing newborn is to pull on the center of the sling to bring her entire body up to proper height. Keep her tummy against you while arranging the sling so she is nice and snug and unable to “roll away” from the breast. It is also possible to nurse in a sling using the “football” or clutch hold. In this position, baby is wraps around the side and nurses from the closer breast. Learning this position can also allow you to nurse your baby from both sides by simply sliding him from the cradle hold to the clutch hold.
While hands free nursing in a sling can be acheived, most women do not experience “arms free” nursing. For most women, the forearm is used to support baby’s head. This still leaves both hands free, but only one arm has the full range of motion. One of the best benefits of an open-tailed ring sling is that you can use the tail of the sling to cover your nursing babe for a little extra privacy.
Bottle Feeding in Your Sling
Bottle feeding can be done in the sling as well. While you may not be able to go completely hands free until your baby is able to hold his own bottle, feeding while in the sling allows you to move about and keep at least one hand free. The sling is also useful for babies with reflux who need to be fed semi-inclined.
The cradle hold will allow you to hold your baby much like you would if he were in the crook of your arm while holding the bottle with your other hand. Babies who like to snuggle or those who need to eat upright may like the tummy to tummy hold. While this will take a little maneuvering on your part to get the bottle in the correct place, it also affords the most options for feeding completely hands free. You may be able to rest the bottle on your shoulder, or tuck it into the fabric on the shoulder of the sling to hold it in place while you go about your tasks.
Wearing your baby while feeding him can also help calm the fussy eater. The gentle and familiar motion of your walk may help him drift off to sleep.
Hands Free Feeding in a Pouch Sling
It is not as easy to master hands free breastfeeding in a pouch sling compared to a ring sling. The infinite adjustability of a ring sling is helpful in getting the correct position and support. This is not to say that breastfeeding in a pouch sling is impossible, but much depends on the fit of the pouch, the amount of head control that baby has, and mom’s shape. If you have an adjustable pouch, you may be able to nurse more comfortably with it set on a larger size.
Bottle feeding in a pouch sling is no different than bottle feeding while using a ring sling.You may, however, find that the fold of fabric on the shoulder makes an ideal bottle holder when feeding in the upright tummy to tummy position.
Comments on Hands Free Feeding Devices
Feeding is more than just physical nourishment for your baby. Holding baby while he eats provides important physical contact and an emotional connection that is so important in the early months. While baby is eating his eyes are moving, focusing, and developing. He is making strong connections between food and emotion that some researchers believe will last into adulthood and impact a person’s relationship with eating.
For these reasons, we believe every baby should be held while being fed. We don’t recommend hands free baby feeding devices that will leave a baby alone with his bottle. We think that wearing your baby while you feed him is the best way to meet everyone’s needs.
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