6 Steps to Get a Correct Latch for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is hard, but you want to do it because of the health benefits for your baby. It’s important to get a correct latch for breastfeeding.

The problem with breastfeeding is that it’s not always easy and can be painful if you have an incorrect latch. It takes a lot of practice before you get the hang of it. You’ll spend hours on Google trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it!

We’ve compiled 6 tips that will help you break those barriers so you can finally enjoy breastfeeding without any doubts or pain. Read this article now!

6 Steps for a Correct Latch

Here are the 5 tips for a correct latch. It might take some practice but once you have it, you will be a pro.

  • Hold Your Breast Like a Sandwich

Make a “C” or a “U” shape with your hand and hold your breast like a sandwich. This will help compress your breast so you can get more of the areola in your baby’s mouth.

  • Nose to Nipple

When you are getting ready to breastfeed, the baby’s nose should be across from the nipple. Sometimes moms will put the baby’s mouth directly towards the nipple first. Try moving your baby so that they are “nose to nipple” and you will have a better chance of getting a deep latch!

  • Allow Baby to Latch

Let your baby take the lead and open their mouth. When they are opening their mouth large enough, bring your baby to the breast. Wait for them to widen their mouth as much as possible before bringing them to your breast. If you try and rush your baby to the breast and he starts opening his mouth, your latch will be too shallow so be patient.

  • Check if Your Baby’s Lips are Flared Out

Check and see if your baby’s lips are flared out instead of being curled in. This will help prevent sore and cracked nipples as well as a deeper latch.

  • Hold Your Baby Close

Keep your baby close to you so their chin is touching your breast to ensure their latch stays.

  • Listen for Gulps

Look for them to change from short, rapid sucks, to slower sucks and you will start to hear them gulping.

correct latch for breastfeeding

Why a good breastfeeding latch is important

Having a good latch is important because it creates a strong bond between you and your baby, stimulates your breasts to promote milk production, protects your milk supply, and prevents sore nipples.

This is the foundation of breastfeeding. So if you have established a good latch, you can avoid a lot of problems that new moms encounter.

What Should a Breastfeeding Latch Look Like?

When you breastfeed check for a correct latch by:

  1. Your baby’s chin is touching your breast and he can breathe comfortably through their nose.
  2. Your baby’s mouth is open wide with a mouthful of areola (not just nipple)
  3. Your baby’s latch is not hurting you
  4. They start with short sucks before sucking more slowly and deeply

If you have flat or inverted nipples, your baby may find latching can be more challenging but with enough practice you will get it.

If breastfeeding hurts your baby, they seem hungry, or they don’t grow enough while breastfeeding, it may be because of a poor latch.

Check your latching position

Before you start to breastfeed your baby, remember to:

Check that your baby’s head, neck and spine are in the same line. Their chin should be up, not dropped towards their chest. Also be sure to be set up with plenty of support in a good breastfeeding chair or a nursing pillow.

Encourage your baby to open their mouth

To encourage your baby to open their mouth, try to gently touch your baby’s upper lip with your nipple. The wider your baby’s mouth is, the easier it will be to get a good latch on.

Bring your baby close to your breast    

Now that your baby’s mouth is open wide, bring him closer to the breast, until his chin touches first. Allowing your baby to stay close ensures that you have good control over how much of the areola he will take into his mouth.

Aim for your nipple to be aiming towards the roof of your baby’s mouth(but don’t force it)

Your baby’s bottom lip should cover more of the underneath of the areola than his top lip does – this ensures that he has a deeper latch on the breast.

It is ok if your baby doesn’t have your entire areola in their mouth.

Every baby and breast is different. You may find that gently shaping your breast with you hand as a “C” shape helps you get more of the areola inside his mouth.

Keep your baby close during latch on

Keep your baby close to you so they keep a deep latch. Newborns naturally have their noses turned up a bit so they can easily breathe while they are breastfeeding. If you have them pulled away, this can cause them to unlatch painfully.

Look and listen for gulping

When your baby has a correct latch, your nipple will be up against the roof of his mouth, with his tongue underneath.

The latch should not feel uncomfortable – it should be more of a tugging sensation. look at your baby for short, rapid sucks to stimulate your milk flow (let-down reflex). When the milk starts to flow, he’ll suck more slowly and deeply with pauses, which indicates that they are drinking enough milk. – a good sign! You should notice his jaw moving, and you will also hear sucking and swallowing as your baby feeds.

How to break your baby’s latch

If you need to break your baby’s latch, it’s important to do it correctly to avoid any pain. You can ease your clean pinkie or index finger gently into the corner of his mouth to break the suction locking his lips onto your breast.

You should not feel pinching or any pain when you ease your finger inside the corner of his mouth to release the suction.

What Should a Breastfeeding Latch Look Like?

In order to nurse effectively, your baby must latch on correctly. There are a few things that you should look for in a correct latch:

Your nipple, and most of the areola , must be inside the baby’s mouth. Your baby’s chin should touch first. Instead of clamping down like many people think, your baby’s lower lip and jaw should cover the lower part of the areola.

Your nipple should not be pinched or twisted while feeding. Your baby’s nose should be pressed against your breast. You shouldn’t have to lean back in order for your baby to nurse.

As you can see, getting a proper latch can take some practice. You must spend lots of time with your baby so she gets it right. Until then, you’ll probably be feeling some pain as your baby latches on incorrectly. But don’t worry, there are some simple things you can do to help them with their latch.

Related article: Why Will Your Baby Fall Asleep While Breastfeeding – 8 Tips to Help 

How Can You Achieve a Proper Latch for Breastfeeding?

There are many ways that you can teach your baby to latch on without any pain. The first is by sitting with your baby in the most comfortable position possible so she doesn’t have any trouble getting on the breast.

You can also try putting your baby in different positions to see if it makes any difference. Try sitting with your feet on a stool, leaning back in a chair or by placing pillows behind you for support. 

Another method that works is asking someone to help you get into position. You can have them hold your baby so you can use both hands to help get your baby in the correct position for breastfeeding.

Having someone that’s qualified to watch over you while you feed is an excellent way of getting your baby latched on correctly. If possible, try to find a lactation specialist or qualified person who can help you determine what the problem is.

If your baby seems to be having trouble getting milk, consult an IBCLC lactation specialist who can watch over things while you feed. They are trained to make sure your baby is latching on correctly and feeding properly.

Your healthcare professional should also be able to watch over things so they can tell you how to address the problem and improve your baby’s latch. This way, you’ll be able to go home and feed your baby in a more comfortable position so they get it right.

How Do I Get My Baby to Have a Deeper Latch?

If you see that your baby’s latch isn’t deep enough, unlatch your baby with a clean finger and work on the steps again. This can take some practice. If you are having trouble, it is best to talk to a lactation consultant so they can help you.

What are some common breastfeeding latch problems?

Compressed nipples

Having breastfeeding painful, nipple pain, the latch hurts, or your nipples are sore and cracked, then your baby is not attaching correctly.

You’re feeling sharp pains in the breast, especially when your baby latches on or starts to nurse.

Your nipple looks flat or creased or your nipple may go white during feeding (due to poor blood flow to the nipple) after breastfeeding and you hear clicking when they are nursing. This is from having a shallow latch and their tongue is compressing it onto the roof of their mouth.

A weak suck

Your baby may not be eliminating the milk from your breast because their suck is too weak or the sucking motion is too small. They should put more of their mouth around your nipple to get more milk.

Gently break your baby’s suction to your breast by placing a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth then trying to get your baby to latch on again.

Talk with a lactation consultant or pediatrician if you are not sure if your baby is getting enough breast milk. But don’t worry, a weak suck is rarely caused by a health problem.

Nipple confusion

Your baby gets frustrated and starts to prefer the bottle nipple or because it’s an easier way to get milk out rather than of mom’s breast. If your baby starts to cry during a feeding, your baby might not be latched on correctly.

Using a pacifier too early or using a shape that can hinder their latch can also affect it.

Tongue tie

Having a tongue or lip tie can affect your baby getting a proper latch. This is not all the time (my first baby had both and breastfed just fine) but it is something to have your health care provider look at if you are concerned.

A tongue tie is when the lingual frenulum attaches too tightly to the bottom of the baby’s tongue. This makes it hard for their tongue to extend past their lower gum line and keep a deep enough latch.

How Do I Fix an Incorrect Latch?

If you think that your baby has an incorrect latch, it’s important to unlatch them and try again. If you continue to have trouble, meet with a lactation consultant or a support group to figure out the problem you are having.

Related article: Best Lactation Supplements to Boost Your Supply

How can I help my baby get a good latch while learning to breastfeed?

First, create a calm environment. Lie on pillows or somewhere you feel comfortable and relaxed.

Next, hold your baby skin-to-skin. Hold your baby, wearing only a diaper, against your bare chest. Hold the baby upright between your breasts and just enjoy your baby for a while with no thoughts of breastfeeding yet.

Let your baby lead. If your baby is not hungry, she will stay curled up against you. If your baby is hungry, she will bob her head against you, try to make eye contact, and squirm around. Learn how to read your baby’s hunger signs.

Always support their head and shoulders, but let her take the lead in finding a way to latch. The best position for your baby is one that works for both of you!

What are some common breastfeeding holds?

Cross-Cradle Hold: Support the back of the baby’s head with your open hand. Hold your baby in the crook of the arm on the opposite side of the chest you’re feeding from — left arm for right breast, right arm for left. With your open hand, support the back of the infant’s head.

This position is great for:

  • Premature babies
  • Babies with a weak suck

Cradle Hold: This is the most popular breastfeeding position. The baby’s head is cradled near her elbow, and her arm supports the infant along the back and neck. The mother and child would face each other, chest to chest.

This position is great for:

  • Great for all moms

Football Hold: Tuck your baby under your arm in the same manner you would an American football (on the same side as you’re feeding from). The football hold allows you to support your baby’s head and assist with their latch.

This position is great for:

  • If you had a C-section
  • If you have large breasts
  • If you have flat or inverted nipples
  • For babies that like to be upright when the feed

Side-lying: When you feed your child in the side-lying posture, you lie on your side and put them down beside you on their side. With your baby’s head at the level of your breast and their feet toward your feet, you and your kid will be facing each other belly to belly.

This position is great for:

  • Have a strong let-down reflex


Getting a correct latch for breastfeeding can be a challenge in the early days. But with a bit of practice and some help from these 6 steps, you’ll soon figure out how to get your baby latched on properly. Once you master this technique, breastfeeding will become not only easier but also more rewarding. Be sure to share this with a friend that is new to breastfeeding as well!

Be sure to read 15 Tips for What Helps Milk Come In Faster



About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.

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