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How to Use a Boppy Pillow (Step-by-Step Guide)

Medically Reviewed by Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC
Updated
Are Boppy Pillows worth the expense?

Boppy Nursing Pillows are great for supporting babies during feeding. But they can take up a lot of room for an item that most people believe serves only one purpose. Did you know that a Boppy can be used for way more than just nursing?

We’ve scoured the internet to discover all the creative ways you can use your Boppy to its fullest potential.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to use a Boppy pillow.


How to Use a Boppy for Nursing Support

  1. Sit in a comfortable place where your back is well-supported.
  2. Place the Boppy on your lap, and wrap it around your waist.
  3. Place your baby on their side on the Boppy, facing your body.
  4. Their mouth should be even with the breast you plan to nurse from. If it’s not, cradle the baby’s head and upper torso in your arm to bring them to your breast, and let your arm rest on the Boppy.
  5. Nurse your baby.
  6. Do not lower your torso or breast down to your baby. If the baby is not positioned high enough, raise them by adding another pillow for support below the Boppy, or lift them with your arms.
  7. You may also use the Boppy in conjunction with the football hold. In this hold, the baby will be positioned along the side of your body (with their feet pointing toward your back).

How to Use a Boppy for Bottle Feeding

Using the Boppy to bottle-feed is nearly identical to using the Boppy for breastfeeding.

Safety First

The Boppy should never be used to prop up a baby to allow them to feed themselves. Babies who cannot sit or hold the bottle on their own are not developmentally ready to feed unassisted and can choke.
  1. Sit in a comfortable place where your back is well-supported.
  2. Place the Boppy on your lap, and wrap it around your waist.
  3. Place your baby on the Boppy, resting on their back.
  4. Cradle your baby’s head and upper torso in your arm. Allow your arm to rest on the Boppy.
  5. Feed your baby by holding the bottle with your free hand.

How to Use a Boppy for Tummy Time

The Boppy  Pillow provides a great alternative to traditional tummy time. While babies may not have the strength to lift their head enough to make tummy time “fun,” propping them up on the Boppy Pillow allows them to see the world from a new angle while still strengthening their neck, back, and arm muscles.

Here’s how to use your Boppy safely for tummy time.

  1. Place a blanket on the floor.
  2. Put the Boppy Pillow on top of it.
  3. Place your baby inside the curve of the “C” in the pillow, with their arms and shoulders propped on top of the pillow.
  4. Place toys in front of the pillow to hold the baby’s attention.
  5. Allow the baby to play in this “tummy time” position until they show signs of fatigue (unable to hold their head up, crying, or fussing). This can be anywhere from 5–20 minutes, depending on your baby’s age, strength, and development.
  6. Supervise your baby at all times. If at any time your baby’s arms and shoulders slip off the top of the pillow, reposition them.

How to Use a Boppy Pillow as a Sitting Aid

A Boppy Pillow makes a great tool to help young ones stay propped up in a sitting position before they have the core strength to sit fully on their own.

Even after their muscles have developed, the Boppy is still helpful to place around them as a cushion in the event they get tired and fall over.

Here’s how to use your Boppy as a sitting aid.

  1. Place the Boppy Pillow on the floor (never on a couch, chair, or elevated surface).
  2. Put baby in a sitting position in the center of the “C” shape of the Boppy Pillow. The baby’s back should be against the curve of the pillow, with their legs pointing toward the opening.
  3. Move the ends of the pillow toward each other until the pillow is cradling the baby on both sides, providing sitting support.
  4. As the baby gains strength, skill, and confidence, move the ends of the Boppy away from the baby, so they are not as tightly supported.
  5. Supervise your baby at all times while using the Boppy Pillow in this position. If at any time your baby falls over, reposition them or remove them from the Boppy. Remember, babies don’t have the strength to move themselves if they’re in a position where they can’t breathe well.

Using a Boppy for Pregnancy/Postpartum Sleep

A Boppy Pillow can be used to aid in the comfort of pregnant or postpartum moms while they’re sleeping.

Safety First

A Boppy should NEVER be used for baby sleep.

The flexible C-shape of the pillow is great to place under an expectant mom’s pregnant belly to provide extra sleep support while she is sleeping on her side.

Many women struggle with hip pain or discomfort in their symphysis pubis toward the end of pregnancy (1). The symphysis pubis is the ligament that connects the two halves of the pubic bone, which open during childbirth to allow the baby to exit the uterus. In late pregnancy, the body produces the hormone relaxin which can cause additional stretching in these areas of the body, resulting in significant discomfort.

The Boppy Pillow can be used to keep you comfortable during this time. By placing it between your knees or thighs when sleeping, pressure and stretching are reduced, and you can sleep better. This is also the case during the postpartum recovery period, where you may need additional hip, pelvic, or abdominal support while sleeping.

Boppy FAQs

What is a Boppy Pillow?

A Boppy Nursing Pillow (commonly referred to as a “Boppy” in mommy circles) is one of the most popular options among a slew of brands offering nursing pillows. The Boppy is curved in a “C” shape designed to fit around a mother’s belly to provide support while nursing.

Both conventional and organic covers are available for the Boppy, allowing you to change colors or designs. There are also waterproof covers available.

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Do I Need a Boppy Pillow?

Though most women purchase a Boppy pillow with the intent to use it as a positioner while nursing, that is not its only function.

True, it’s helpful to use a positioner when breastfeeding. Many women don’t realize it until they’re in the thick of it, but nursing can be hard on the back, neck, and shoulders. Proper posture (especially when you’re exhausted) is hard to maintain, and when you spend hours a day cradling a little one to your breast, it’s easy to get lazy.

For that reason, having a Boppy Pillow on your lap to raise your baby higher toward your breast (as opposed to slouching over to bring your breast down to your baby) can have a great effect on both you and your baby’s nursing comfort.

However, its use doesn’t end there. Boppy Pillows are multifunctional and can also be used for:

  • Baby’s tummy time.
  • An aid for sitting.
  • Pregnancy and postpartum sleep support for mom (but never for baby).
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Is it Safe to Use a Boppy?

Boppy Pillows are safe to use as long as you use them properly. No matter how you choose to use them, babies should never be left unsupervised when placed in or on the Boppy.

While babies may doze off and look comfortable curled up in a Boppy Pillow, they should never be allowed to sleep in or on one. If your baby falls asleep while playing on the Boppy, move them to a baby crib or bassinet immediately for safe sleeping.

Never leave a Boppy in a crib while a baby is sleeping, as your baby’s crib should be empty of all blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, and other suffocation risks.


The Bottom Line

The Boppy Pillow is a wonderful multi-functional tool that can help you from late pregnancy throughout your baby’s first year.

Not only does it help reduce the physical stress of nursing, but it can also be used by bottle-feeding mothers, as a tummy time aid and sitting positioner, and as a form of sleep support for a pregnant or recovering mother.

Headshot of Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Medically Reviewed by

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC is a writer, editor, and board-certified lactation consultant for two busy pediatric practices. She is a former La Leche League Leader, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and Certified Infant Massage Instructor.