When it comes to figuring out which items are true baby essentials, you’re likely to get as many different answers as the number of people you ask. However, a Boppy nursing pillow is one item that seems to make it onto almost every parent’s wish list.
At first glance, this rounded item looks like it might have limited functionality and take up more space than it deserves. Once you learn the tricks of how to use a Boppy pillow, though, you might wonder how you’d ever get along without one.
Here are the details of what a nursing pillow is and the many ways that you can put it to daily use. We’ll also cover several safety tips to help make sure you know how to use your pillow properly.
What is a Boppy Pillow?
A Boppy pillow is a C-shaped cushion that fits comfortably around the average adult’s torso. While the open ends make it easy to position the pillow in any way you want, the primary function of these pillows is to fit around your body with the solid, curved potion against your abdomen and the open ends behind your back. These pillows provide a soft, stable surface that supports much of your baby’s weight while also giving you a comfortable place to rest your arms as you hold your child.
You may find yourself wondering if there’s a difference between a Boppy and a nursing pillow. Technically, Boppy is the trademarked name for one specific brand of nursing pillows. Of all the many brands that offer these pillows, Boppy is the most well-known by far. In much the same way that you might refer to all adhesives bandages as Band-Aids and all facial tissues as Kleenex, many parents refer to every nursing pillow as a Boppy.
What are the Benefits of Using a Nursing Pillow?
Far from having just one purpose, a nursing pillow is a versatile item that can benefit parents and babies in a variety of ways. Here are a few areas where you can put a nursing pillow to good use.
Makes Breastfeeding More Comfortable
Proper infant positioning is critical to getting a good latch, nursing without pain and making sure your baby gets the amount of milk they need.
Especially when you’re already tired, it’s all too tempting to lean or hunch over to bring the breast to your baby’s level. However, lifting your baby and holding them close to the breast is typically the best way to encourage a proper nursing technique for your baby and avoid backaches yourself. Unfortunately, you may feel like you’re sacrificing your arms to spare your back, and it can take a lot of energy to maintain proper posture during a lengthy feeding.
A nursing pillow solves the problem by bringing your baby to the proper height with far less strain on your arms. No matter which breastfeeding hold works best for your baby, a nursing pillow’s curved shape gives you the flexibility to position your support exactly where you need it.
The ability to hold your child comfortably while still ensuring a proper latch can make a big difference in the success of your breastfeeding journey, and it’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that a nursing pillow can play a significant role in helping certain women achieve their breastfeeding goals.
Ideal for Bottle Feeding
During the newborn days, a nursing pillow is perfect for providing you with some arm support while you hold your child during a bottle feeding. As your baby grows older and stronger, you could also use the pillow to prop them in a semi-upright position for their meals.
Assists in Pregnancy and Postpartum Comfort
As her belly grows larger, it can be hard for an expecting mom to get into a comfortable position that allows for some much-needed rest. Thanks to a nursing pillow’s curved shape and open ends, you can adjust the pillow’s position to provide support to various areas.
Aches and pains don’t disappear right away after you give birth, and you may have some new discomforts to deal with in the weeks immediately following childbirth. Particularly if you had a cesarean section, a nursing pillow’s extra cushioning can help reduce the pressure against your incision while you hold your baby.
Provides Support for Baby
Be it for tummy time, reclining on their back or supported sitting, a nursing pillow’s size and soft surface are ideal for providing a little extra elevation or stability.
10 Different Uses for a Nursing Pillow
While a Boppy can certainly make your nursing experience go a little more smoothly, this versatile piece can fill multiple roles during the pregnancy stage, the infant months and even the toddler years.
As the primary function of a nursing pillow, breastfeeding is indeed the perfect time to use your nursing pillow. Whether you prefer to feed your baby in a rocking chair or on the couch, you should be able to position your pillow optimally thanks to the soft, flexible material.
Particularly if you plan to use the paced bottle feeding technique, it can take just as long to feed your baby a bottle as it does to nurse. When mealtime rolls around, position the pillow around your body and hold your child in the same way as you would if you were breastfeeding.
You’ve probably seen actual neck pillows before, and they can be great for getting your head in just the right position to relieve muscle strain and provide support.
Although neck pillows are nice, why buy a specialized item when you could just use your nursing pillow? Additionally, with its larger size, you can also get some shoulder and upper back support if you want to rest in a slightly propped-up position.
Stretching, growing bellies can bring along a few stubborn aches and pains. A nursing pillow can help you get a little more comfortable by supporting either your neck or your legs, or you may want to use both ends at the same time, with one end under your neck and the other between your knees.
Some moms may even find that one of the ends is just the right size to provide a comfortable cushion under their belly when lying on their side.
Childbirth can take a toll on a woman’s body, and stretched ligaments, sore muscles and healing tissues can all benefit from a little extra cushioning and support.
Placing your nursing pillow between your knees or thighs can help relieve pelvic soreness, and it can also help take the pressure off of tender stitches or hemorrhoids.
Support Baby While Snuggling
Especially when you’re in the early days of sleepless nights and still feeling the effects of childbirth, holding your baby in a safe, high position for all those newborn snuggles can be hard on the arms.
A nursing pillow around your abdomen can be a great help to provide support under your baby’s bottom or to your arms, so you can soak up the cuddles while your baby stays safe and you stay comfortable.
Babies need daily tummy time to help strengthen their muscles, work on coordination and give them a different perspective of their daily world. A nursing pillow is ideal for getting your baby comfortably on their tummy while also making it easier for them to see and reach for toys. Having your child slightly elevated off the ground may also make it easier for you to interact with your child at eye level.
While tummy playtime is essential, your baby will also likely want to lay on their back at times to look at the world or reach for toys that hang suspended overhead. A nursing pillow can be a great way to help your child have a comfortable place to sit in a reclined position.
A nursing pillow’s size, cushioning and versatile shape can come in handy when your child is in the process of learning how to sit up by themselves.
Early on, you can place your child in the center of the pillow with the open ends in the back and the solid portion in the front. This position gives your baby plenty of soft support to lean on as they work on reaching for toys and strengthening their core muscles. As your child becomes a more confident sitter, you can turn the pillow around to have the open ends towards the front. This position gives your child a little more space and freedom to explore while still providing a safe place to land if they tip over.
A nursing pillow can be the perfect size for doubling as a comfortable, toddler-sized spot for relaxing with a book. If you want to make a cozy reading nook for your child, a nursing pillow can be a good fit even if you only have a small space to work with. A nursing pillow can also be a squishy, compact seating option if your child has their own play teepee.
Using a Nursing Pillow Safely
While nursing pillows are versatile pieces that can serve you and your child well in a variety of situations, they can present serious dangers if you use them inappropriately. Taking the time to learn about potential hazards and how you can avoid them can help you get the most use out of your nursing pillow while still keeping your little one safe.
Only Use Under Direct Supervision
Whether your baby is enjoying some playtime on their tummy or propped up in the reclined position, always stay by your baby’s side for the entire time they are using the pillow. Just like any other soft surface, a nursing pillow can be a suffocation hazard if it covers your baby’s face.
Even if you think your baby is strong enough to move their face independently in the event of trouble or they look to be firmly in place, you don’t want your child to slide, roll or sink down while you have your back turned. Play it safe and never allow your baby to use the nursing pillow without your full attention.
Never Use for Infant Sleep
You may have some friends that swear by letting their child sleep propped up in the nursing pillow. However, this practice carries the risk of serious injury or worse, and it is absolutely not safe.
As we mentioned above, your child is at risk of suffocating if they turn their face into the pillow. Additionally, there is also the danger that a propped-up baby could slide downwards during sleep and inadvertently move their head into a dangerous position that can compromise their breathing.
A nursing pillow, or any pillow at all, has no place in your child’s crib, bassinet or cradle. If your child falls asleep during their propped-up playtime, move them to a flat, safe sleep area right away.
Don’t Use on Elevated Surfaces
It might be tempting to set up your little sitter on the couch, and the snug safety of a nursing pillow can lend an extra sense of security. However, babies seem to have a way of lunging or tipping over when your least expect it, and placing your baby on an elevated surface presents the danger of a fall. Always err on the side of caution and set your baby up for their playtime on the floor.
Keep Multiple Covers On Hand
Especially if you plan to use your nursing pillow both for yourself and when caring for your baby, it’s a good idea to have a few different covers that you can easily change and wash often.
While most nursing pillows are machine washable, the washing and drying process can consume a few hours. Having multiple covers that you can quickly change between makes it much easier to keep things clean and sanitary.
From the pregnancy days all the way into toddlerhood, a nursing pillow can serve a surprising number of functions if you have the knowledge and creativity to think outside the box. However, a nursing pillow can carry a few hazards, so always be sure to make safety your highest priority.
We want to hear from you! Did you have a nursing pillow, and what was your favorite way to use it? Was there anything you didn’t like about a nursing pillow? Do you have any other suggestions to add to our list of uses? Tell us your opinions in the comments!