baby latch tips

Latching On

baby latching on mother's breast

Getting baby to latch on correctly is not only essential for good feeding, but will also save you from having to cope with sore and painful nipples. This step-by-step guide will show you how to get your baby to latch on correctly.

After you have gotten yourself comfortable, begin by positioning baby so that his mouth and body are directly facing your nipple. In order to get a good latch, baby must open his mouth very wide. It may help to brush his mouth with your nipple or with a finger to get him to open up.

Baby’s wide open mouth is your cue to pull him toward you with his chin towards your breast. You may want to hold your breast with your free hand to help keep baby on target. Once baby is latched on, his mouth should still be wide open and pressed firmly to the areola that surrounds your nipple. Baby’s lips will be turned outward (everted like fish lips) against your breast. Your nipple should be toward the back of baby’s mouth. Make sure that baby is not sucking on just your nipple. Not only will this not allow him to get enough milk, but it will also be painful for you.

If baby has not latched on correctly, break the suction by gently placing your finger between your breast and the corner of baby’s mouth. Then try again. It may take several tries to get a good latch. Try not to get discouraged. Remember, this is a learning process for you and your baby. Relax. Try again.

Signs of an incorrect latch include:

  • Dimpling of baby's cheeks
  • Clicking sounds
  • Your baby pushes the nipple out of his mouth

When baby is latched on correctly, there will be a good seal between his mouth and your breast. You should be able to see him swallow. After a few successful breastfeeding sessions, you will learn to recognize a good latch by how it feels.

If you cannot get your baby to latch on, don’t give up! Do get support immediately. A professional lactation consultant or a La Leche League leader can give you the one-on-one attention that you need to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship with your baby. She can also suggest ways to make sure baby is getting enough milk. You can find a lactation consultant or La Leche League leader in your area here.

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