Being a breastfeeding mom isn’t easy – quite the opposite. Breastfeeding your baby is a lot of work. Thankfully, a nursing pillow can help make the process more comfortable. However, a moment comes in your life when you wonder when to stop using nursing pillow.
Children grow fast, and they will quickly outgrow any items that you use. From child slings to carriers, everything has a moment when it has to go. So, what about nursing pillows and when is your child too old to use it?
We’ve contacted some experts to see their opinion on the topic. Not just that, but we’ve also talked to parents who’ve used a nursing pillow to see when they thought their little one no longer needed it.
So let’s find out … when to stop using a nursing pillow.
What Is a Nursing Pillow?
Firstly let’s remind ourselves of the actual intended purpose of a nursing pillow.
Nursing pillows are there to provide a stable and comfortable surface for your infant while breastfeeding. They’ll usually sit in your lap or wrap around your body. This will also help you reduce the risk of neck, back, and arm pain. Being soft and flexible, not only makes breastfeeding more comfortable for you, but the entire experience can be much more pleasant and enjoyable for your baby too.
However, one thing that causes confusion, is when to stop using nursing pillow and switch to breastfeeding without it.
When to Stop Using Nursing Pillow?
No one needs to use a nursing pillow. It is entirely up to you whether you feel like using it, or not. Some mothers prefer to nurse in a specific position instead of using a pillow as they find this to be more comfortable for them. As such, there is really no set rule on when to stop using nursing pillow – you can do it today if you feel like it! Since many moms prefer breastfeeding over formula and would like to nurse for as long as possible, you may find your pillow usage can last for a long while.
Still, there are a few factors you may wish to take into consideration:
How Big Is Your Baby?
The bigger your child, the less the need for a nursing pillow. While your little bundle of joy is in their newborn days and rather tiny, the nursing pillow helps you position their head high enough to be able to comfortably reach your breast. This will also help release some pressure off your arm having to hold them higher.
As your little one grows larger, they’ll be able to gain more head control and hold their head up on their own. This will help them have control over their movements, and the nursing pillow won’t be necessary. However, this doesn’t mean that a nursing pillow won’t make breastfeeding easier. Some babies love using nursing pillows because they’ve grown accustomed to them and associate the familiar relaxing pillow feeling with milk time.
If your baby can hold their head up, try nursing without a pillow and see how they’ll react. If they like it this way, then you can start nursing without a pillow. If not – wait a bit longer.
Remember, as your baby grows older, you are likely going to be going out and about more often. It may not be feasible to carry a nursing pillow with you everywhere you go, so you don’t want your child to become over-reliant on it.
What Is Your Body Type?
Nursing pillows are often not sold size specific. Unfortunately, this means a specific design may not suit you well. This is something you may have already noticed while you were looking for the best and safest nursing pillow for you and your baby. What pillow is working out great for your friend or a random person on the internet, may not be ideal for you.
So choosing a nursing pillow to complement your size will definitely enable you to use it for a longer time. Here are a few tips:
- Tall moms might prefer using larger, more padded pillows. This may help hold the child closer to the nipple. Bare in mind, as your child grows older, a large pillow might become a nuisance.
- Shorter women may actually need less support. Some will find that their baby can be nursed just fine while sitting on their lap. But where extra comfort is sought, smaller moms may opt for thinner pillows with less stuffing.
- If you’re a plus size, you’ll likely find pillows with belts uncomfortable. The same can be said for pillows with non-adjustable, small openings. Your best option is to look for an adjustable pillows. Better yet, test as many nursing pillows as possible until you find one that is a comfortable fit.
The bottom line is, If you buy a nursing pillow that isn’t a suitable size, you may have to stop using a nursing pillow sooner than you’d like.
Is the Pillow Helping You?
From time to time, you need to stop and think about your own situation. Babies grow fast and things can change in no time. If you have started wondering whether to stop using nursing pillow, maybe it’s now time to stop and think about whether your pillow is still helping you? or if it’s started getting on the way.
Nursing shouldn’t be an automatic activity. Think about how you do it. Does it still feel natural to use a pillow or is it making your baby sit too high? A nursing pillow should always help you and your baby feel more comfortable. Is it still reducing any neck, arm and back discomfort for you? Does your baby seem relaxed and comfortable? or, have they become more unsettled and started wriggling around a lot as they try to find a comfortable position?
If it isn’t doing it’s job anymore, you no longer need it.
Do You Really Need a Nursing Pillow?
Nursing pillow isn’t a necessity you simply have to have. This is rather a tool that can help moms who find nursing uncomfortable. There are many moms out there who swear they cannot breastfeed without a nursing pillow and even have their favorite brands they invest in. Others have never tried it and don’t feel the need to. Some have even noticed that while they needed a nursing pillow for one of their babies, they couldn’t use it with the other one! So, do you really need a nursing pillow or is this just an attempt from various companies to take your money?
As with many other baby products, this all comes down to your desires and preferences. No, you don’t need a nursing pillow if you find that you’re comfortable enough while breastfeeding. However, it can be a true blessing for many women. It particularly seems to be beneficial to taller women who have a lot more space between their chest and their legs. It’s also useful for more delicate women who are prone to wrist pains. A nursing pillow gives your child something to lie on, so you don’t have to hold them throughout the process.
Even if you’ve bought a nursing pillow and decided that it isn’t the best option for you, there are still many different purposes you can use your pillow for. Here are some of them:
- An excellent use for some nursing pillows is actually before your baby is even born! Many pregnant women will find sleeping with a big bump very uncomfortable. The nursing pillow provides very good support, especially when it’s rested between the legs, allowing expectant moms to get a well earned rest.
- They can help you sit more comfortably in bed. They are pillows, after all, and they can do the basic function of pillows rather well.
- A nursing pillow can help provide snuggle support. If your baby loves to sleep on your arm, you can place the pillow underneath it to help keep your arm supported. This can help you enjoy snuggles for a longer time.
- When your baby grows a bit older, you can place them on a nursing pillow with their hands in front to give them their tummy time. This not only makes them feel comfortable and supports proper digestion, but it gives babies more movements and supports healthy development.
- You can also use a nursing pillow in quite an opposite way to give your child a good place to lay on their backs. As they have a hole, their lower back and bum will be cradled. At the same time, the pillow itself will support their neck and upper back while giving your little one the possibility to look around. Just keep in mind that this isn’t a proper sleeping position for a young baby.
- A nursing pillow can help your child while they’re trying to sit up and gain strength. You can place them in the nursing pillow’s hole, then wrap the pillow around them to give them extra support and cushioning. If they fall over, they won’t get hurt, which is always a great concern of all parents.
Alternative to Nursing Pillow
Some women think that investing in a nursing pillow is a waste of money. They don’t see the benefit in investing in such a tool to aid their breastfeeding. While experts would disagree, there is an alternative to nursing pillows.
Simple enough, the best alternative to a nursing pillow is to use a regular, sleeping pillow. In some ways they’ll do all the job of a nursing pillow, and you’ll already have them at home. As long as you’re comfortable, we say go for it! However, not all women find regular pillows are a good enough substitution. They are often not the right texture, as they tend to be too soft to hold a baby in the right position. Not just that, but they won’t wrap around your body in a way a nursing pillow would.
Regular pillows can be useful if you’re trying to transition away from using a nursing pillow.
What Do the Moms Say?
It’s time to look at the experiences of moms who have used a nursing pillow in the past – and it’s important to note that all agree on benefits of breastfeeding. What is the best way to learn when to stop using nursing pillow, then to talk to those who have the experience?
After looking at one online breastfeeding forum, we’ve noticed a large diversity among the moms. One group has used it until their child was three to four months old, which is about the time when babies start being able to hold their heads up on their own. These women have mostly stated that they’ve found it uncomfortable to breastfeed with a pillow after this time frame, as their child was too big.
Others have reported using it for a very long time. Many have used it even after their child was one year old. A few of these women stated that they had a really large chest, and that the nursing pillow helped make the entire process much more comfortable. One mentioned how she has a longer torso than most, which is why she breastfed her baby with a pillow until he weaned.
A similar diversity was found on another online forum, where most women seem to fit one of these three categories:
- They have never used a nursing pillow.
- They have stopped using it when their child was able to hold their head upright.
- They have used it until their child stopped breastfeeding.
As you can see, there is no hard and fast rule on when to stop using nursing pillow. This is something that seems to be entirely up to the mom and baby and how comfortable both of you are.
So, when to stop using nursing pillow? As you can see, there isn’t an easy answer. The best option might be to simply say: When you feel like it.
There will be signs that will tell you when is the time to let go. After speaking with and reading about many mom’s experiences, this is what we’ve concluded are the turning points for nursing pillow usage:
- When a child starts to sit upright.
- When the pillow is no longer comfortable enough for you.
- When you stop nursing your child.
Some mothers might not ever feel like using the nursing pillow is the right thing for them. This, too, is perfectly fine. Nursing pillows are there to prevent discomfort. They are not a necessity.
If you’re among mothers who have found that using a nursing pillow helps with breastfeeding but are worried that their child is getting too old, there is no need to worry. As long as you’re comfortable, your child can never outgrow their nursing pillow.
And if you’ve stopped using a nursing pillow, don’t throw it away. There are many other things you can use it for!