How To Properly Get Your Baby To Latch

Latching your baby onto your breast the right way…

Now that baby’s in position, it’s important that your baby is latched on properly. Improper latching is the most common cause of breast discomfort, especially sore nipples. Latch your newborn onto your breast using the following tips.

Gently tickle baby’s lip with your nipple.
This should open your baby’s mouth very wide, like a yawn. Some lactation consultants suggest aiming your nipple toward your baby’s nose and then directing it down to the upper lip to open the mouth wide. This prevents the lower lip from getting tucked in during nursing. If your baby turns away, gently stroke the cheek on the side nearest you. The rooting reflex will make baby turn back toward your breast.

Bring your baby toward your breast.
Don’t move your breast toward the mouth or stuff your nipple into an unwilling mouth — instead let your baby take the initiative. It might take a couple of attempts before your baby opens his or her mouth wide enough to latch on properly.

Be sure baby’s mouth covers both the nipple and the areola.
Sucking just the nipple won’t compress the milk glands and can cause soreness and cracking. But in the right spot, the action of the mouth, tongue and lips will massage the milk out of the milk glands.

Check to see if your breast is blocking your baby’s nose.
Once your little one is properly latched on, you can lightly depress the breast with your finger to move it away from baby’s nose. Elevating baby slightly may also provide a little breathing room. But as you maneuver, be sure not to loosen baby’s grip on the areola.

Not sure if baby’s getting fed?
Check his or her cheeks: You should see a strong, steady, rhythmic motion. That means your little feeder is successfully suckling and swallowing. If you need to position baby to feed again, unlatch baby’s grip (see below) and begin the lip tickling anew to get baby to latch on with the nipple and the areola in the mouth. In the beginning, it might take quite a few tries to latch properly. Keep at it. Your baby will be happier in the long run if those efforts bring a mouthful of milk rather than a mouthful of air.

Unlatching your baby
Pulling your breast out of baby’s mouth abruptly can cause injury to your nipple — whether you’re having latching problems and need to re-latch or your baby is finished feeding but is still holding onto the breast. Break the suction first by pressing the breast near the mouth, or by gently inserting your finger into the corner of baby’s mouth.