How to Achieve a Successful Breastfeeding Experience: Helping Your Baby Latch On

Breastfeeding: A Crucial Aspect of Infant Nutrition

Breastfeeding, a natural physiological process, stands as the optimal source of nutrition for newborns and infants. Yet, it presents challenges for both the mother and the infant, particularly in the realm of latching. Latching denotes the manner in which an infant attaches to the breast for milk consumption. A proficient latch is paramount for the success of breastfeeding, preventing complications such as sore nipples, low milk supply, and inadequate weight gain.

To facilitate a proper latch, certain measures can be undertaken. Firstly, ensure a comfortable posture that provides adequate support for the back and arms, employing pillows or cushions if necessary. Secondly, maintain proximity with the infant, aligning their head and body in a linear fashion. Thirdly, wait for the infant to open their mouth widely before bringing them to the breast, enabling them to encompass not only the nipple but also as much of the areola as possible.

It is crucial to recognize the uniqueness of each infant; strategies effective for one may not universally apply. Discovering the apt technique for both mother and infant may demand time and practice. Yet, through patience and persistent effort, achieving a proper latch becomes feasible, allowing the embrace of the manifold advantages of breastfeeding.

Understanding the Basics of Latching

Breastfeeding latch, or simply latch, refers to how a baby's mouth attaches to the nipple and areola when breastfeeding. A good breastfeeding latch is crucial for the baby to take in milk and gain nourishment. It is also important for the mother's comfort while breastfeeding.

Signs of a Good Latch

There are some signs to look for to ensure that the baby has a good latch. These include:

  • The latch is comfortable and pain-free for the mother.
  • The baby's chest and stomach rest against the mother's body, so that the baby's head is straight, not turned to the side.
  • The chin touches the breast.
  • The mouth opens wide around the breast, not just the nipple.
  • The lips turn out.

Common Latching Problems

Some common latching problems include:

  • Nipple pain or soreness
  • The baby only latches onto the nipple, not the areola
  • The mouth is not open wide enough
  • The tongue is not positioned correctly
  • The jaw is not moving evenly

If you are experiencing any of these problems, it is important to seek help from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider. They can help you identify and address any issues with latching.

Overall, understanding the basics of latching is important for successful breastfeeding. By looking for signs of a good latch and addressing any common latching problems, mothers can ensure that their baby is getting the nourishment they need while also being comfortable during the breastfeeding process.

Comfortable Breastfeeding Positions

Finding a comfortable breastfeeding position is crucial for both the mother and the baby to have a successful breastfeeding experience. It's important to choose a position that allows the baby to latch on correctly and comfortably while also being comfortable for the mother.

Using a breastfeeding pillow can help support the baby and take some of the weight off the mother's arms and shoulders. It's also important to have good posture and support for the mother's back and neck.

Here are some common breastfeeding positions:

  • Cradle Hold: The baby is held in the crook of the mother's arm with their head resting on the forearm. This position is best for older babies who have good head control.

  • Side-Lying: The mother and baby lie on their sides facing each other, with the baby's mouth at the level of the mother's nipple. This position is great for night feedings and can be very comfortable for the mother.

  • U Hold: The baby is held in the crook of the mother's arm, but instead of the baby's head resting on the forearm, the mother's hand supports the baby's neck and shoulders. This position is great for newborns and young babies.

  • Football Hold: The baby is held under the mother's arm, with their legs tucked under the mother's arm and their head at the level of the mother's breast. This position is great for mothers who have had a cesarean section.

  • Cross-Cradle Hold: Similar to the cradle hold, but the mother uses the opposite arm to support the baby's head. This position is great for newborns and babies who need extra support.

It's important to try different positions and find the one that works best for both the mother and the baby. Remember to use pillows or other supports to make the position comfortable and to maintain good posture.

Support and Guidance

Breastfeeding can be challenging for both the mother and the baby, especially in the early days. To help your baby latch on the breast correctly, it is essential to get the right support and guidance from healthcare professionals.

Lactation consultants are trained professionals who specialize in helping mothers with breastfeeding. They can provide valuable advice on positioning, latch, and addressing any breastfeeding problems that may arise. WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is another resource that provides support and guidance to mothers who are breastfeeding. They offer breastfeeding education, counseling, and support groups.

It is also essential to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider regularly during the breastfeeding journey. They can provide medical advice and address any concerns you may have.

La Leche League International is a nonprofit organization that provides breastfeeding education and support to mothers worldwide. They offer local support groups, online forums, and resources to help mothers with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding experts and healthcare professionals can also provide support and guidance. They can offer advice on breastfeeding positions, latch techniques, and ways to increase milk supply.

In addition to seeking support and guidance from healthcare professionals, it is essential to have a supportive environment. Family members, friends, and partners can offer emotional support and help with household chores, allowing the mother to focus on breastfeeding.

Remember, breastfeeding is a learning process for both the mother and the baby. With the right support and guidance, mothers can overcome any challenges and establish a successful breastfeeding relationship with their baby.

Addressing Latching Issues

Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it can be challenging for some mothers and babies. If you are experiencing latching issues, there are several things you can do to help your baby latch on correctly and comfortably.

Identifying Latching Issues

The first step in addressing latching issues is to identify the problem. Common issues include pain, discomfort, sore nipples, inverted nipples, tongue-tie, bad latch, nipple pain, nipple shield, shallow latch, and trauma. If you are experiencing any of these issues, it is important to seek help from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.

Tips for Correct Latching

Here are some tips for helping your baby latch on correctly:

  • Make sure your baby is in the correct position. Your baby should be facing your breast, with their nose level with your nipple. Their mouth should be wide open, with their lips flanged outwards.
  • Support your breast with your hand. Use your thumb and fingers to form a "C" shape around your breast, with your thumb above your nipple and your fingers below.
  • Bring your baby to your breast. Gently guide your baby's mouth towards your nipple, making sure they take in as much of the areola (the dark area around your nipple) as possible.
  • Wait for your baby to latch on. Your baby should take a large mouthful of breast tissue, with their tongue cupping your breast and their lips flanged outwards. You should feel a strong tug and see your baby's ears wiggle.

Using a Nipple Shield

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort while breastfeeding, you may want to consider using a nipple shield. A nipple shield is a thin, flexible piece of silicone that fits over your nipple and areola, providing a barrier between your nipple and your baby's mouth. However, it is important to note that nipple shields should only be used under the guidance of a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.


Breastfeeding can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your baby, but it can also be challenging. If you are experiencing latching issues, don't hesitate to seek help from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider. With the right support and guidance, you can overcome any obstacles and enjoy a successful breastfeeding journey.

Maintaining Milk Supply and Baby's Nutrition

Maintaining milk supply is crucial for breastfeeding mothers to ensure that their babies receive optimal nutrition. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants, containing all the necessary nutrients for their growth and development. Here are some tips to help maintain milk supply and ensure that babies receive adequate nourishment:

Frequent feeding: Feeding the baby frequently, at least 8-12 times a day, helps to maintain milk supply. The baby's sucking stimulates the let-down reflex, which signals the body to produce more milk.

Emptying the breasts: Emptying the breasts during each feeding session ensures that the baby receives enough milk and helps to maintain milk supply. If the baby is not able to empty the breasts, expressing the extra milk after or between feedings can help maintain milk supply.

Combination feeding: Combination feeding, which involves feeding the baby both breast milk and infant formula, can be an option if feeding the baby only breast milk is not possible. This allows the baby to receive the important nutrients in breast milk while also ensuring that they receive enough nourishment.

Proper latching: Ensuring that the baby latches properly is important for maintaining milk supply. A good latch allows the baby to effectively remove milk from the breast, which signals the body to produce more milk.

Colostrum: Colostrum, the first milk produced by the mother, is rich in nutrients and antibodies that help to protect the baby from infections. It is important to ensure that the baby receives colostrum during the first few days after birth.

Weight gain: Monitoring the baby's weight gain is important to ensure that they are receiving enough nourishment. A healthy weight gain indicates that the baby is receiving enough milk and is growing and developing properly.

By following these tips, breastfeeding mothers can maintain milk supply and ensure that their babies receive the necessary nourishment for optimal growth and development.

Questions? Email Jack Newman at, or Edith Kernerman at or consult: Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the USA) or our DVD, Dr. Jack Newman’s Visual Guide to Breastfeeding; or The Latch Book and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success; or L-eat Latch & Transfer Tool, or the GamePlan for Protecting and Supporting Breastfeeding in the First 24 Hours of Life and Beyond.  See our website at  To make an appointment email and respond to the auto reply or call 416-498-0002.

Handout  Toxins and Infant Feeding May 2008
Written and Revised by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC 1995-2005

  This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission,
on the condition that  it is not used in any context that violates
the International WHO Code on The Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes


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