An Infant Carrier Intervention and Breastfeeding Duration: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Emily E. Little, PhD, CLEC, Camille C. Cioffi, PhD, Lisa Bain, MPH, Cristine H. Legare, PhD, Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, PhD

OBJECTIVES: Parent-infant skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth increases initiation and abstract duration of bodyfeeding. We hypothesized that providing ergonomic carriers to parents during pregnancy would increase the likelihood of breastfeeding and expressed human milk feeding through the first 6 months of life.

METHODS: A randomized two-arm, parallel-group trial was conducted between February 2018 and June 2019 in collaboration with a home-visiting program in a low-income community. At 30 weeks’ gestation, 50 parents were randomly assigned to receive an ergonomic infant carrier and instruction on proper use to facilitate increased physical contact with infants (intervention group), and 50 parents were assigned to a waitlist control group. Feeding outcomes were assessed with online surveys at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum.

RESULTS: Parents in the intervention group were more likely to be breastfeeding or feeding expressed human milk at 6 months (68%) than control group parents (40%; P 5 .02). No significant differences were detected in feeding outcomes at 6 weeks (intervention: 78% versus control: 81%, P 5 .76) or 3 months (intervention: 66% versus control: 57%, P 5 .34). Exclusive human milk feeding did not differ between groups (intervention versus control at 6 weeks: 66% vs 49%, P 5 .20; 3 months: 45% vs 40%, P 5 .59; 6 months: 49% vs 26%, P 5 .06).

CONCLUSIONS: Infant carriers increased rates of breastfeeding and expressed human milk feeding at 6 months postpartum. Large-scale studies are warranted to further examine the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of providing carriers as an intervention to increase access to human milk.