Breastfeeding Made Easy: Latching On


The “Breastfeeding Made Easy” series are aimed helping you breastfeed successfully by allowing you to understand the fundamentals of breastfeeding in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

Latching on is, without a doubt, the most important thing to learn when it comes to breastfeeding. After a natural birth, newborns are known to be able to do the breast crawl, which is a fascinating example of how babies are much more capable than we give them credit for!


However, for many women, latching on remains the most challenging part of early motherhood, and does not feel natural to them at all. I know moms who have to bite their lip and fight the urge to bawl whenever their infants latch on – in fact, I was one of them. A less-than-perfect latch can result in painful, sore, or even bleeding nipples. So here are the tips and resources that I’ve found that really helped me get a perfect latch (along with my favorite instructional video for latching on!).



Easy tips to ensure a good latch:
  • Make sure baby is calm, alert, and starting to get hungry - do NOT wait till baby cries! A great time to feed your newborn is just as they begin to wake up from sleep.
  • Keep baby swaddled - this calms them, and also keeps their flailing hands away from your tender breasts and nipples. OR,
  • Wear your newborn - babies who are worn are much calmer, and thus easier to feed.
  • Get comfortable - have all your pillows, water, and other stuff ready at your "breastfeeding station". Unless you wear your baby and nurse them in a carrier, you will be tied down to that sofa or chair for 40 minutes at a time...you'd better make sure you're comfortable! My biggest tip to all new moms: learn how to nurse while lying down ASAP.
  • Relax. Breathe. Remember the steps below, look into baby's eyes, and be confident that you are both made to do this. Trust in yourself, trust in your baby...everything will fall into place.


Steps for a good latch:
  1. Make sure you choose a position that is comfortable for both you and baby - baby needs to be facing you, and his body should not be twisted (an example of a bad position is: baby's head and chest facing you, feet facing away from you. I challenge you to try to drink in that position!)
  2. Tickle your baby's nose to get baby to open his mouth
  3. Aim your nipple towards the soft part of the roof of baby's mouth
  4. Make sure baby latches onto all or most of your areola
  5. If there is no pain, and baby is making swallowing sounds after 10-15 seconds, then you're all set! If there is pain, gently unlatch baby and try again.
Further reading:
"Latching on Checklist" by Breast Baby Products

Disclaimer: I am a Certified Malaysian Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, and my advice above comes from my training and personal experience. However, any assistance that you receive on this blog is not meant as a substitute for professional guidance from your local health care professional. Please seek help from your local health care professional or Lactation Consultant (visit the International Lactation Consultant Association to search for an LC in your area) if you are experiencing problems with breastfeeding or if you have continuing concerns.