Trouble Latching? Here Are 7 Tips for Getting Baby to Latch
Breastfeeding is a powerful way to bond with your little one, but it’s also a vital source of nourishment for your baby! Your little one is reliant on these nutrients to grow and develop.
However, while it’s a natural process, breastfeeding doesn’t always come effortlessly. You and your baby are learning, and many new parents find themselves overcoming “latching issues” while breastfeeding. In fact, difficulty with latching baby is one of the top reasons women report undesired early weaning.
If you’re experiencing trouble latching or you simply want to be prepared, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive in and explore some important baby latching tips that can help ensure a positive breastfeeding experience for both you and your little one.
The Importance of Latching Properly
Latching and breastfeeding go hand in hand. As The Lactation Network explains, latching is the process of initiating nursing at the breast. It’s about ensuring your baby is properly attached to your nipple and areola to create effective suction and begin suckling.
Having a proper latch is most important to ensure you can feed your baby. However, it’s also beneficial to your comfort. A proper latch makes sure baby is fed while also preventing nipple pain and discomfort. And when baby has a good, deep latch it can help you establish a consistent milk supply and avoid clogs.
Baby Latching Timeline
A baby can begin learning to latch soon after delivery. During the first skin-to-skin time, baby will often begin moving toward the breast naturally. Make sure to support their head and body while positioning your baby to the breast. They may then start rooting or squirming toward the nipple to latch on their own.
Of course, some babies need a little extra help. You can also hold your breast and touch your nipple to baby’s lips to encourage them to open their mouth and then gently guide baby’s head closer so their mouth covers your nipple and areola.
A good, strong latch should feel comfortable. Baby’s mouth should be filled with your breast and you can hear or see them swallow.
Signs Your Baby Is Having Difficulty Latching
Every baby is different, and many new moms experience difficulty getting their baby to latch. According to Stanford Medicine, some factors that can affect a baby’s ability to latch include:
- Mother’s medications
- Cleft lip or palate
While it’s sometimes obvious that your baby may need some extra help latching, that’s not always the case. That’s why it’s important to understand your little one’s queues to make sure they’re getting enough nutrition. Here are some common signs your baby may be having difficulty latching:
- Baby does not wake on his or her own to cue for feedings
- Baby latches on and lets go of the breast repeatedly
- Baby pushes away when trying to latch
- Baby falls asleep within 5 minutes of latch-on or after sucking for only two or three minutes
- Baby only nurses on one side for longer than 30 to 40 minutes
- Baby feeds for more than 45 minutes without acting satisfied or full after a meal
- Mother has persistently sore or bruised nipples or areola
It can be difficult to tell how much your baby is eating during a breastfeeding session. One way to tell if your baby is eating enough is by keeping track of their weight. They should be consistently gaining weight after birth.
You may consider giving baby a bottle to see how much they’re eating and if they have difficulty with their latch.
7 Baby Latching Tips to Try
When a baby won’t latch or is having difficulty sucking, it can be disheartening. Luckily, there are many ways to help make the experience positive and effective!
1. Find a Comfortable Position
If a newborn baby won’t stay latched on and cries, it may be because they’re not comfortable. La Leche League emphasizes that while there are many nursing positions to choose from, baby should have his mouth and nose facing his nipple and his body should be so close that he is touching you.
It’s also important that you’re comfortable! Find a breastfeeding position that feels best for you and baby.
2. Ensure Proper Alignment
It’s also important that baby is aligned to have a good latch. Alignment can help baby latch deeper and make the experience comfortable for everyone. You can get baby to open wide for the latch by gently touching their lips with your nipple. Their mouth should cover your nipple and most of your areola to create suction.
As your baby suckles, your nipple will be against the roof of their mouth and their lips will be turned outward like a fish so you may not be able to see their bottom lip.
3. Gentle Stimulation
You can also help the process by gently stimulating both your body and baby’s to prepare to latch. Make sure you’re eating a nutritious diet and staying hydrated to support a healthy milk supply. Also, consider massaging and stimulating your breasts so you can relax.
If baby won’t latch, try to hold them skin-to-skin and gently stroke the corner of your baby’s mouth with your nipple to encourage their rooting reflex.
4. Use Breastfeeding Aids
Accessories like a nipple shield can be incredibly beneficial to get a baby to latch. Pillows can also help support your baby and help you find a comfortable position.
5. Breast Compression
Babies can get frustrated if they have a good latch but aren’t getting enough milk. This may cause them to push away. You can help baby get a stronger flow of milk and encourage a deep latch by gently squeezing or compressing your breasts during feeding time.
6. Patience and Persistence
Remember, a fed baby is a healthy baby! Breastfeeding can be a challenging process for new moms that takes patience and persistence. At the end of the day, what’s important is that your baby is getting the nutrients they need to thrive, regardless of whether it’s from breastmilk or formula.
7. Breastfeeding Support
Finally, don’t forget that there are many resources and help available for new moms who want to learn how to get a baby to latch. A lactation consultant can work with you and your newborn to get baby to latch deeper and provide more personalized baby latching tips.
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