How can a sling or carrier be a useful tool to support you when you are bottle feeding? There are lots of practical reasons a sling may prove useful in your life, but we wanted specifically to explore how it could help with bottle feeding.
With any sling or carrier, as with any baby equipment, you do need to be aware of the safety aspects. If you are bottle feeding in a sling or carrier be aware of your baby’s airway and monitor them at all times to ensure that their breathing does not become compromised. If you change position to feed, then ensure that you return your baby to a secure position with a clear airway once the feed is complete. You’ll want to make sure their nose and mouth are free of fabric and you have can clearly see their face. If your baby does not yet have good head control, support them with a hand between their shoulder blades, or under their neck (take care to keep hands/fabric away from the back of baby’s head). It’s worth noting that an option that worked well for you with previous children or even last week may need different adjustments as your baby grows. As always, stay comfortable and make changes as needed.
Keeping your hands free
Making up formula can be a time-consuming process and we all know that babies are not the most patient of creatures! Once they are hungry, they are usually hungry NOW, and that isn’t always possible if you need to prepare the milk. Slings and carriers can be a great tool at this moment, to help keep your little one calmer for a few moments longer and keep your hands free to deal with the important task at hand.
If you have older children or need to get out and about or on with your day, being able to move around whilst feeding can be a very practical tool. The demands of modern-day life, especially when factoring coping with other children, mean that you may feel that you don’t have the luxury to sit down and feed your little one peacefully every time. Finding a way to use a sling or carrier to support feeding may give you that little bit of extra freedom to continue with your day.
If you or any other caregivers have additional needs a sling could be a tool which helps with sustaining a feeding position for longer periods without adding too much strain. They can also help with coping with changes in position needed when caring for a baby.
Getting to know your baby
Keeping your baby close allows you to see their feeding cues earlier and get to know all the different ways your baby tries to tell you something. Common cues are sucking fists, rooting, waving hands and only the final stage is crying. If your baby is in the carrier with you, you may see those signs earlier and you can ensure the milk is ready for them.
Skin to skin contact is incredibly valuable to facilitate bonding, especially in the early days. Any sling can be used to help make this happen, and it can be useful to help partners also get some bonding time.
Slings are also valuable for allowing other family members a way to get to know the new addition. Whether facilitating skin to skin with dad, or grandma using the sling so mum can have a nap, or for parents to know their little one is safe snuggled up whilst they get some time together, slings and carriers can be a tool for many family members to use.
If you are wishing to use the paced feeding method for bottle feeding, then a sling can easily facilitate the upright position for feeding. Being able to use a seated sideways position can give your arms a little bit of a rest and give you both hands to help with the actual feed. You can find out more about paced feeding here and about the seated sideways position here.
Slings have also shown to help alleviate some of the symptoms of reflux and colic, especially by keeping a baby upright after a feed. Even if you aren’t using the sling to feed in, popping your baby in after their milk may be a good way to avoid other issues!
For bottle feeding guidelines you can visit the NHS and CalmFamily have produced their own guidelines.
If you need support whilst bottle feeding speak to your midwife or health visitor who may signpost you to further services if needed.