Baby Latching – Tips, Techniques & Poor Latching

7 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Baby Latching

One major thing new mothers have to learn quickly after childbirth is the proper way of baby latching. Your baby will require your breast milk immediately after birth. Initially, your midwife or nurse will assist you in holding 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 is 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 (1). 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.

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 skin-to-skin contact (2).  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 get help from your doctor or nurse 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 : Breastfeeding With Flat Or Inverted Nipples]

Why Do Babies Have Latching Issues?

Babies may have latching issues due to many reasons. The most important are listed below

  • Premature or underweight babies, who are too weak to bear the trouble of sucking milk (3)
  • 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 : Baby Weight Loss After Birth]

Signs of Poor Latching When Breastfeeding

Signs of Poor Latching When Breastfeeding

In a good latch, you can realize a suction 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 a long time, 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 : Skin-to-Skin Contact With Your Newborn]

Breastfeeding Techniques to Help Baby Latching

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 most common latch where the 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 and around 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 center. 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.

A baby latching properly is important for your baby to have milk properly and for your breasts to be able to produce sufficient milk for your little one. You may find it difficult for the first few weeks as both you and your baby are 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.

3. How do I Know if My Baby Has Latched Properly?

You will know that your baby has latched properly when your baby’s mouth is wide open and the nipple of your breast along with the areola portion is inside the mouth of your baby. Your nipple is between the tongue and upper gum of your baby. Your baby is sucking milk slowly and deeply with pauses and between and you can hear your baby sucking the milk.

4. How to Breastfeed With a Bad Latch?

A good latch is important to ensure that your baby gets their full feed of milk. A bad latch can cause your baby to drink less milk. To ensure a good latch, first ensure a calm and relaxed environment. Let your baby relax, and have a proper skin-to-skin touch with your baby to help them get closer to you. Let your baby lead the breastfeeding process. Wait for them to open their mouth wide. Once they open their mouth, gently guide them towards your breast. Do not force feed your baby or push their mouth towards your nipple. Let them come to you. Slowly start feeding them. This process may require patience and time. You can take the help of a lactation consultant if needed.


  1. Effect of mother–infant pair’s latch-on position on child’s health: A lesson for nursing care – []
  2. Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together— It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding –  []
  3. A qualitative study on the breastfeeding experience of mothers of preterm infants in the first 12 months after birth – []

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

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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