baby doing tummy time on toki mats nursing pillow

5 Ways to Use a Nursing Pillow

January 2, 2023

It’s no secret that life changes a lot after the birth of a new baby. While the newest addition to the family brings immeasurable joy and excitement, the postpartum period is a fragile stage for new mothers. Adjusting to life with a new baby is a difficult feat in itself, but postpartum recovery adds another level of complication. Thankfully, there are many products designed for recovering moms to make this delicate time a little easier, and a nursing pillow is one of those invaluable tools. The concept of a nursing pillow is a simple one: it’s a special pillow designed to comfortably cradle your baby while you breastfeed. Although it’s a feeding essential that provides support and comfort for breastfeeding moms, a nursing pillow actually has multiple uses beyond its original purpose. Here are five ways you can use a nursing pillow in your home, whether or not you breastfeed your baby.

mom nursing her baby on a toki mats nursing pillow

1. Bottle feeding

When you bottle feed your baby, holding them up for feeding time can put a lot of strain on your arms and neck. A nursing pillow can offer a lot of support to relieve the stress off your muscles, and help cradle your little one as they feed. If you switch between breastfeeding and bottle feeding, or if your baby suffers from colic or reflux, you can use the right pillow to keep them upright at a 45 degree angle for paced feeding. Paced bottle feeding slows the flow of milk to mimic breastfeeding, and also prevents overeating because it gives your baby more control over their intake. Since bottle feeding can be messy with young babies, make sure you have a cover for your nursing pillow that you can switch out and throw in the wash. Our nursing pillow covers are made from 100% cotton and fit most standard nursing pillows. 

2. Tummy time

Young babies notoriously hate tummy time, and honestly, can we blame them? Babies aren’t born with the developed muscles to independently hold up their heads, so they have to work at building that neck, and trunk strength. Since they’re unable to lift their heads for long periods of time, they end up face planting into the floor during tummy time, squalling at their caregiver to be rescued. Although it’s hard to watch your baby struggle during these early weeks, tummy time is essential to their development. Since there’s no getting around it, something that can help your little one adjust to tummy time sessions is to prop them up on a nursing pillow. You can play your baby in the C curve of the pillow, with their arms and shoulders propped up on top. This gives your little one comfortable support that can help them tolerate tummy time as they strengthen their muscles. Just be sure to always actively supervise your baby! For some more tips on how to make tummy time easier and to learn how tummy time changes as your baby grows, you can read our other blog posts.

baby doing tummy time on a toki mats nursing pillow

3. Reflux relief

If your little one suffers from reflux, it can cause a lot of spitting up and discomfort. Although your baby will likely outgrow infant reflux by 6-12 months, it’s important to keep them upright for 20 minutes after each feed to allow digestion to begin. Holding a very young infant in an upright position for this long (and many times a day!) can put a lot of strain on your arms. Use a nursing pillow to prop up your arms for some much-needed support, or to also feed your baby in a more upright position to reduce reflux. 

baby sitting propped up on a nursing pillow with sibling

4. Sitting support

Once your little one begins learning how to sit, they’ll be a little wobbly and unsteady. Placing them in the C curve of a nursing pillow can offer some support and prevent them from falling backward when they lose balance. Although you should allow your baby plenty of time and space to figure out unassisted sitting on their own, using a pillow around their trunk can provide support at the base, while still allowing their core muscles to work.

5. Pregnancy/postpartum sleep

Sleeping during pregnancy can be a tricky thing. Because pregnant women have to sleep on their side in the second and third trimester to preserve blood flow to the growing fetus, a pregnancy pillow can be the key to a decent night’s rest. Pregnancy pillows provide support where it’s most needed, relieving pressure on the spine, back and hips. However, since most pregnancy pillows are bulky, expensive, and take up too much space, some moms may find smaller options more comfortable. Depending on where you need support, a nursing pillow between the legs or under the belly may be all you need for restful sleep. Additionally, after your baby is born, it may take a while for your uterus and stomach to shrink down. As you’re recovering, a nursing pillow may provide support in the places you need it the most.

5 Ways to Use a Nursing Pillow

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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