How to Pump Breast Milk While Caring For Your Baby

How to Pump Breast Milk While Caring For Your Baby

How to Pump Breast Milk While Caring For Your Baby

Information about How to Pump Breast Milk While Caring For Your Baby

Newborn News

If you’re exclusively pumping or pumping to build a freezer stash, you may need to pump breast milk while caring for your baby. Figuring out how to pump when you’re home alone with baby can be tricky at first – here are some tips and tricks for making it work!

woman holding baby while pumping into a Medela bottle with text overlay How to take care of baby while pumping: tips for newborns and older babies

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Pumping while simultaneously trying to care for a baby is not easy.

When you pump, your range of motion can be limited, you need to be careful not to spill, and older babies are fond of playing with the pump and pump parts while you try to use them (and least, mine was). So what to do with baby while you pump?

How to approach pumping while you care for your baby will change as your baby ages.

With a newborn, your best bet is to multitask pumping with either feeding or getting your baby back to sleep. This will allow the time when you’re not pumping to be time you focus on baby (baths, tummy time, snuggles), get some sleep yourself, or take a shower.

Later, with an older baby who is mobile, there are a few strategies you can use to get a pumping session in without your baby pulling your tubing out.

How to Pump When Home Alone with a Newborn Baby

With a newborn, you have a few options – pump while the baby eats, pump while the baby goes to sleep, or pump while the baby plays.

How to Pump Breast Milk while Bottle Feeding 

Pumping while bottle feeding seems like it totally make sense to me, in a bizarre way. You’re lactating at the same time you feed your baby, just like nursing! Except not.

So how does this work? Essentially, you set yourself up to pump using a hands-free bra. Once you’re all hooked up, you put the baby in your lap or next to you on a boppy and feed him his bottle.

woman wearing nude nursing/pumping bra, pumping breast milk, and sitting next to her baby (who is on a boppy) and feeding her a bottle

This, of course, is a bit trickier than it sounds. Here are the steps you’d want to follow:

  1. Get everything that you need to pump. It’s easiest if you have a pumping station set up with all of your gear – pump, pump parts, bottles, hands-free bra, etc. – in one place and ready to go.
  2. Get baby’s bottle prepared.
  3. Put baby next to you on the boppy or in your lap (making sure baby is safe from falling) and set yourself up to pump with your hands-free pumping bra or hands-free pump.
  4. Turn the pump on, and start feeding baby.

One common concern with feeding baby while pumping is burping.

If you need to burp your baby while feeding, it can be difficult to do it on your shoulder as your pump parts may be in the way. You may be able to turn baby over on one arm, and pat his back with your other hand.

Another issue with feeding while pumping is when baby is really hungry and needs to eat immediately. When this happens, you might not want to take the time to set yourself up to pump before you feed him.

In this situation, what I did was walk around holding my baby and soothing him while warming the bottle. Then, once the bottle was ready, I fed him one ounce or so to take the edge off. (At night, I also did diaper changes at this point in case my baby fell asleep while eating.)

Then, I quickly set myself up to pump and finished the feeding.

Pumping While Putting Baby to Sleep

If it’s too difficult to juggle feeding your baby while you pump, you can try to get him to sleep.

If your baby needs to be held to go back to sleep, you can put him in your lap while you pump.

You can try jiggling your leg or using your arms a bit to give a little rocking motion. This way, you are right there if your baby needs a burp or a pacifier replaced.

Then, once you’re done pumping, you can move the baby to his crib or bassinet or wherever he sleeps.

Another option is to put the baby in a bouncy seat next to you.

baby with a pacifier in mouth on floor next to mom, who is pumping and drinking coffee

This way you can rock baby as needed with your feet while you pump, and still be close enough to replace a pacifier. Once you’re done pumping, you can move your baby to his crib.

(Make sure to keep an eye on your baby, as some experts have warned against babies sleeping in bouncy seats unsupervised.)

Pump While Playing with Baby

The other option is to put baby on his play mat for tummy time or just to play with his toys while you sit next to him and pump. This works better if you have pumping sessions on the shorter side (around 15 minutes).

If this is a challenge, see if it’s easier if you single pump or use a manual pump, as it doesn’t restrict your range of motion as much.

What Should You Do With An Older Baby When It’s Time to Pump?

Pumping with a mobile baby can be really challenging, as many babies consider breast pumps a fascinating toy.

If your baby is mobile, at this point, hopefully naps are a bit more predictable and sleep is not at the premium that it was when your baby was a newborn. If possible, it’s easiest to pump while your baby naps or is asleep for the night.

However, sometimes you need to pump and for whatever reason, your baby is not going to nap. Here are a few ways to manage.

High Chair and a Basket of Toys

Put your baby in his highchair, and grab a basket of toys (or finger food/purees if your baby is eating solids) and sit next to the baby. Set yourself up to pump hands-free.

Try to keep baby entertained with toys/food while you pump.

A lot of stuff is going to get thrown on the floor, but just leave it until you’re done pumping.

Pump with Collection Cups

You may also be able to use collection cups with the pump you have now.

woman wearing gray tshirt with Legendairy Milk silicone collection cups underneath

This keeps most of the tubing under your shirt, making it harder for baby to grab.

Some options are Legendairy Milk cups, Freemie cups, or Spectra Cara Cups.

Want to check these out? Legendairy Milk reached out and gave me a discount code – take 15% off with the code EPUMP!


If you have an exersaucer or jumparoo, you can try getting a quick 10 or 15 minute pumping session in while you baby plays in it.

You can sit right by it and interact with him in case he cries, but he won’t be able to grab your tubing or pump parts.

Get in the Car

If your baby likes driving, put your baby in his carseat and go for a quick drive.

woman pumping in the driver's seat of a car with medela bottles and pump parts and seat belt on

You can pump and drive at the same time, or you can drive until baby falls asleep and then pull over and pump.

Try a Pump Without Tubing

There are a few pumps (such as the Willow and Elvie) that are wireless.

These are expensive but can make exclusively pumping with an older baby much easier, since everything is in your bra.

Single Pump or Use a Manual Pump

Medela Harmony in front of product box on a white background
If you’re really in need of a quick session and none of the above will work, try using a manual pump to get a quick pump in while playing with the baby.

There are less parts to grab and less chance of spilling. You can make the up any missed pumping time later, when your baby is sleeping.

Caring for a baby while pumping is a real challenge, but hopefully these tips will make it easier! Let us if you know if you have any other ideas in the comments.

Want help putting together the perfect pumping schedule for you that saves your sanity AND your milk supply? Check out the Exclusive Pumping Playbook! Includes cheat sheets for setting up systems and routines to make things easier. Use EPUMP30 for 30% off.


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