Educational Resources

Getting baby latched on to the breast

• Supporting the breast will make latching on and feeding easier in the early days. The hand is held in a C shape with the thumb on top of the breast and fingers underneath. Be sure the fingers are back away from the areola (the dark part of the breast around the nipple) so baby will be able to fully latch on. (See Figures 3, 4, 5)

• Slightly lift the breast and lightly touch or tickle the baby’s lower lip with the nipple (Figure 3)

• Baby’s mouth will open wide and his head with turn (if necessary) toward the nipple. This is the rooting reflex. (Figure 4)

• When baby’s mouth is open wide (like a yawn) quickly pull baby in with his chin and nose touching the breast. (Figure 5) Baby will probably have no trouble breathing since his nostrils are flared. If his nose is obstructed by the breast, pull his hips in closer to tilt the nose away from the breast or lift up on the breast a bit to clear the airway. Baby will then begin to suck.

• If there is more than the slightest discomfort, or baby did not get latched onto an inch or so of areola, gently insert a finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth (Figure 6) or pull down gently on his chin to break the suction and try the entire process again. Be sure to pull baby in quickly when his mouth is open wide.

• Once baby is nursing, it is easy to check that he is latched-on at the breast properly. First, baby's lips need to be flanged out. Check both upper and lower lips and if the lips are tucked in gently pull them out. The baby may need to be latched on again. Secondly, gently pull down on baby’s lower lip to be sure the tongue is cupped around the breast. You may need someone else to help you with this. When these things are confirmed and nursing is comfortable, the baby is probably positioned and latched on correctly.


This educational material is provided courtesy of Ameda Egnell.  Permission to use and/or reproduce this copyrighted material has been granted by the distributor, Hollister Incorporated.