Baby Latching – Causes, Signs And Techniques

6 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.

Baby Latching

One major thing new moms have to learn quickly after childbirth is the proper way of baby latching. Your baby will require your breastmilk immediately after birth. Initially, your midwife or nurse will assist you to hold the perfect position and teach you the ways to breastfeed. But to understand the perfect latching for breastfeeding you will need a lot of practice. Baby latching is something that you and your baby will learn together with time.

Baby latching is extremely important for successful breastfeeding. Without it, your baby will not get enough breastmilk to fill the tummy and will get disinterested to suck more for the milk. And you will have to rely on formula milk to compensate for the deficiency of breastmilk. A poor latch will also cause nipple pain and discomfort. So, for successful breastfeeding, you will have to learn the ways to initiate perfect baby latching. Here are some tips for your help.

In This Article

What is Baby Latching?

Latching means the way a baby attaches or fastens its mouth against the breast of the mother while breastfeeding. In a good latch, your baby’s mouth will be wide open and the nipple of your breast along with the areola portion will be inside the mouth of your baby. Your nipple will rest in between the tongue and upper gum of your baby. The squeezing of your milk ducts by the gentle movements of your baby’s tongue and jaw will then make the milk flow.

Signs of Poor Latching When Breastfeeding

Signs of Poor Latching When Breastfeeding

In a good latch, you can realize a suction in between your breast skin and the mouth of your baby. You can hear your baby swallowing the milk. But in case of a poor latch, your baby’s lips will only grab the nipple section instead of the whole areola. As a result, enough milk will not be produced, and you will feel nipple pain. Here are some more signs of poor latching:

  1. The cheeks of your baby will look sunken instead of filled with milk
  2. The lips of your baby will not be coming outside like a fish. Instead, it will be tucked inside while latching.
  3. Instead of a swallowing sound, you can hear a smacking or clicking sound as your baby tries desperately to suck milk.
  4. Your nipples will hurt or be sore. You can even get cracked nipples.
  5. Even after breastfeeding for long the baby’s tummy will not get filled enough and they get soon hungry again.
  6. The weight gain of the baby will not be up to the mark, or the baby will start losing weight. (Note- it is natural for the newborn to lose weight in the first few days as they reduce the water content from their body).
  7. Your breast milk supply will get low.

[Read : Baby Weight Loss After Birth]

Why Do Babies Have Latching Issues?

There can be many reasons behind a baby’s poor latching, such as

  • Premature or underweight babies, who are too weak to bear the trouble of sucking milk
  • Sleepy babies who do not wake on their own to feed or babies who fall asleep after a few minutes of sucking.
  • The nipple of the mother is too small or flattened or too big for the baby.
  • The mother’s breast is too big. Big breasts will not let you see whether your baby holds a perfect latch.
  • In the case of a tongue-tie or ankyloglossia.

[Read : Breastfeeding With Flat Or Inverted Nipples]

How Long Does it Take For a Baby to Learn to Latch?

How Long Does it Take For a Baby to Learn to Latch

There is no particular time for a baby to learn to latch. Some babies can learn it in just a few tries while others can take several weeks to learn the process. Effective latching occurs when your milk flow gets smooth.

How fast your baby learns latching will largely depend on your approach to it. According to the Canadian breastfeeding Foundation, there is no proven evidence that a newborn baby needs to be fed every 2/3 hours. So instead of using force to feed your baby, you should use the skin-to-skin contact. Put the baby close to your breasts and let them find out the nipple and suck it on their own. They will soon learn perfect latching.

Top 11 Tips to Help Baby Latching

Here are some more tips for you to make your baby latch properly.

  1. Turn the baby entirely to your side. The ear, shoulder and hip of the baby should be in a straight direction.
  2. Make a c hold by using your four fingers towards the bottom and your thumb on the top of your breast.
  3. Bring the baby close to you so that their chin can touch your breast.
  4. Gently tickle and stroke the upper lip of the baby with your nipple to make them open their mouth.
  5. As soon as the baby opens its mouth gently put the whole areola part (the dark circle around your nipple) inside.
  6. Once your baby takes it you can make gentle compression and squeeze your breast with your fingers to make the milk flow.
  7. If it is a good latch, then you will feel suction and there will be no pain or discomfort.
  8. In case of a poor latch gently slide your clean finger into your baby’s mouth to release the suction and go through the same process again.
  9. If your nipples are flattened or your breast skin gets tight with extra milk, then express some milk before putting the nipple inside.
  10. Do not hesitate to take help from your doctor or midwife to learn the ways of a good latch.
  11. If you want your baby to embrace your breasts and learn to latch fast, then you should use skin-to-skin contact. Put the baby close to your breasts and let them find out the nipple and suck it on their own.

[Read : Skin-to-Skin Contact With Your Newborn]

Breastfeeding Techniques You May Consider

Breastfeeding Techniques You May Consider

There are two techniques for breastfeeding latching. One is called the traditional latch and the other is the asymmetrical latch.

1. Traditional Latch

This is the widely used method by mothers. In which your baby’s mouth will be centered around the nipple and areola section of your breast and you can see an equal amount of your areola out around all over your baby’s mouth.

2. Asymmetrical Latch

In this technique, you will have to place your nipple towards the upper section of your baby’s mouth instead of the centre. Your baby will take more of the areola part towards the chin and less on the upper lip section. This technique is thought to be more effective and comfortable than the traditional latch. Especially women with big breasts find it helpful as they can see the baby’s nose is not getting blocked by the breast skin.

You may find it difficult for the first few weeks as both you and your baby is new to this baby latching experience. But after that, you will definitely become successful. Just keep trying.


1. How Do I Know if the Baby is Latched on Properly?

If the baby latching is proper, then you will not feel any discomfort while feeding. You can see your baby’s jaw movements and hear swallowing sounds.

2. What Does a Shallow Latch Feel Like?

In a shallow latch, your baby’s lips will only cover the nipple not the areola section of the breast. The cheeks of the baby will look sunken, and you will feel nipple pain after some time.

Read Also: 7 Signs Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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