CircleBumpCheckedFilledMedicalBookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxCheckBoxFilled

How to Get a Proper Breastfeeding Latch

Check out these top tips for how to get baby to latch correctly while nursing.
save article
profile picture of Erin van Vuuren
Updated April 18, 2019
mom breastfeeding newborn
Image: Nicole Apuzzo

Helping baby establish a secure breastfeeding latch is a critical first step when you first start nursing, but it doesn’t always come easily to newborns. Sometimes they need a little guidance from Mom—and sometimes Mom needs a little guidance to understand what a good breastfeeding latch actually looks like, and how to get it.

The breastfeeding latch is the moment when baby takes your nipple and areola into their mouth and “latches” on. How your child latches on is key to making sure they get enough milk without hurting your nipples in the process. In fact, when new moms experience pain while nursing, it’s often because baby doesn’t have a proper breastfeeding latch.

So how do you get baby to latch correctly? To get a clear idea of what to shoot for, it’s always helpful to watch a breastfeeding session in action (with a breastfeeding friend at a local La Leche League International meeting or on video), or get hands-on assistance from a certified lactation consultant. That said, there are some helpful breastfeeding latch tips to keep in mind:

Get comfy. You’ll be more relaxed and better able to help baby get a good breastfeeding latch if you find a breastfeeding position that feels good.

Image: Louisa Cannell

Line baby up. Baby’s ear, shoulder and hip should be aligned, and their head shouldn’t be tilted up or to the side once they’re latched on.

Go nose to nipple. Aim your nipple at baby’s nose (as if you were going to squirt milk up their nostrils). This can help motivate them to open wide and lines your newborn up for getting your nipple in the right spot for effective feeding.

Give a tickle. Tickling baby’s lips lightly with your nipple can help them open wide.

Related Video
Image: Louisa Cannell

Offer more than just nipples. Baby should latch onto your areola, not just your nipple. Their lower jaw should take a nice chunk of breast, and their lips should curl outwards.

Go deep. For breastfeeding to be most comfortable (so baby gets the maximum amount of milk and your nipples stay pain-free), your nipple needs to reach the area in baby’s mouth where the hard and soft palates meet. Touch the roof of your mouth; this is the spot where it switches from hard to soft.

Help baby out. Once baby opens wide (like a yawn), help them onto your breast by gently—and quickly—pushing against their back. (Try this with your palm on their back and fingers behind their ears—babies tend to get peeved if you simply shove their heads from behind.)

Image: Louisa Cannell

Sandwich your breast. You may need to help baby get a proper breastfeeding latch by squishing your areola and nipple outwards. Use your thumb and forefinger to press your breast into a “sandwich” that’s in line with baby’s mouth (imagine biting into a huge burger), helping baby latch more deeply.

Image: Louisa Cannell

Wrap baby around you. If you’re using a cradle hold, a helpful trick is to curl baby’s body against and around your abdomen. This helps them relax their jaw.

Give baby breathing room. If baby’s nose is blocked by your breast, give them some space by pulling their bottom in closer to your body. (Don’t press on your breast to create breathing room. Reposition baby instead.) Baby should have freedom to angle their head back and away from your breast.

Do skin-to-skin. Stripping baby down to their diaper and laying them against your bare chest can help calm them, keep them awake and get them in the mood to nurse. (Drape a light blanket over the two of you if you’re worried your newborn will get chilly.)

If you and baby are struggling to establish a proper breastfeeding latch, reach out to lactation consultant. They’ll be able to watch you two in action and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you and baby are comfy and find your groove.

Updated April 2019

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

young woman pouring a glass of red wine in kitchen at home
Breastfeeding & Alcohol: Is It Safe to Drink?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
closeup of baby breastfeeding
Are There Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Cluster Feeding: Everything You Need to Know
Cluster Feeding: Everything You Need to Know
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
tb-best-nursing-clothes-hero
Where to Shop for the Best Nursing Tops and Dresses
By Martina Garvey
black mother breastfeeding baby at home
Black Women on Finding Joy in Breastfeeding
By Ashley Simpo
Mom Responds After Video Shaming Her for Breastfeeding Goes Viral
Mom Responds After Video Shaming Her for Breastfeeding Goes Viral
By Wyndi Kappes
smiling mother breastfeeding baby at home
Top 13 Benefits of Breastfeeding
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
mother breastfeeding baby while working
Over 15,000 Breastfeeding Moms Share Their Motivations and Challenges
By Wyndi Kappes
mother breastfeeding baby while browsing on laptop
Can't-Miss Sales in Celebration of National Breastfeeding Month
By Wyndi Kappes
mother breastfeeding baby on bed at home
World Breastfeeding Week 2023: How You Can Help Working Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Georgia Mom Asked to Stop Breastfeeding Her Baby by Water Park Staff
Georgia Mom Asked to Stop Breastfeeding Her Baby by Water Park Staff
By Wyndi Kappes
mother breastfeeding newborn baby
What Is a Milk Bleb or Blister?
By Korin Miller
mother feeing bottle to baby
Can You Mix Breast Milk and Formula?
By Colleen De Bellefonds
ADVERTISEMENT
Mother baby mastitis breast pain while breastfeeding
Here’s How to Stop Mastitis From Making Breastfeeding Unbearable
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
mom struggling to breastfeed her baby
Breast Engorgement: What It Is and How to Find Relief
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
a mother breast pumping milk while sitting on bed at home
Why You Might Consider Power Pumping (and How to Do It)
By Samantha Vincenty
Best Nursing Pillows-hero
Our Favorite Nursing Pillows (Plus How to Use One)
By Kathleen Harris
ADVERTISEMENT
mom holding baby while drinking coffee in kitchen
Can You Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding?
By Natalie Gontcharova
Breast Milk Storage Bags
The 9 Best Breast Milk Storage Bags to Preserve Your Liquid Gold
By Danielle Halibey
breast milk bags and bottles with breast pump on wooden table
The Dos and Don’ts of Breast Milk Storage
By Christin Perry
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List