How to Get a Newborn to Latch

Breastfeeding 101 for You and Your Baby

Some women are fortunate enough to have a wonderful breastfeeding experience: They revel in the intimate bonding that occurs between them and their baby. But, other women, when they try to breastfeed, find themselves slowly losing hope that this nursing thing is either “natural” or “beautiful.” If you’re drowning in advice and struggling to figure out how to get your newborn to properly latch, help is here in the form of realistic tips, including where to find expert support.

How to Latch

Mother holding her baby boy

Nipple Compression During Breastfeeding

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It’s important to make sure you are in a comfortable position when you’re breastfeeding. Depending on how long it takes your baby to nurse, you may be in this position for 20 minutes or more. Many women find a breastfeeding pillow helpful to support the baby and position him on his side, tummy-to-tummy with mom. You will be bringing the baby to your breast, not the other way around. Don’t lean forward or strain to get closer.

Bring your baby toward your breast to position his nose opposite your nipple. You may need to cup your breast to help guide your nipple toward your baby’s upper lip. You can also rub your nipple across his lower lip to encourage him to open his mouth. Once your baby opens his mouth wide, pull him in close, directing your nipple into the center of his mouth. This step is crucial. If your baby does not open his mouth wide enough, it’s difficult for him to latch on properly.

Knowing the Latch Is Correct

If your baby has latched on correctly, you'll see that most of your areola, and not just your nipple, is in his mouth. If your baby is sucking on only your nipple, you will begin to get very sore. You will also know if the latch is correct if you can hear your baby sucking and swallowing your milk. You can check his lips, which should be turned out, and not pulled inward. If your latch is incorrect, gently place your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to stop the suction and try again. Don’t worry if you have to try multiple times for both you and your baby to get the hang of it.

When Difficulties Arise

Mother holding her baby boy

Home Remedies for Sore Nipples Due to Breastfeeding

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If you’re having problems getting your baby to latch on correctly, don’t be afraid to seek support. Your hospital may offer lactation services, or you can contact a lactation consultant. Having someone who can show you how to hold your baby and guide you through the steps of latching on can be very helpful. Working with a professional also provides you with someone to answer your questions and offer reassurance as you learn how to nurse your baby.

Fussy, sleepy babies who are difficult to feed are concerns a professional can help you with. If you’re worried about your milk supply, whether your baby is getting enough to eat, or if breastfeeding is a struggle, your health care provider can offer support. Tap into expert advice to get breastfeeding to work well for you and your baby.