baby to breast

Bringing Your Baby to the Breast

When awake, your baby will move his or her head back and forth, looking and feeling for the breast with his or her mouth and lips. The steps below can help you get your baby to latch on to the breast. Keep in mind that there is no one way to start breastfeeding. As long as the baby is latched on well, how you get there is up to you.

  • Hold your baby, wearing only a diaper against your bare chest with his or her head under your chin. Your baby will be comfortable in that cozy valley between your breasts. You can ask your partner or a nurse to place a blanket across your baby's back, or bring your bedcovers over you both. Your skin temperature will rise to warm your baby.
  • Support his or her neck and shoulders with one hand and hips with the other. He or she may move in an effort to find your breast.
  • Your baby’s head should be tilted back slightly to make it easy to suck and swallow. With his or her head back and mouth open, the tongue is naturally down and ready for the breast to go on top of it.
  • At first, your baby's nose will be lined up opposite your nipple. As his or her chin presses into your breast, his or her wide open mouth will get a large mouthful of breast for a deep latch. Keep in mind that your baby can breathe at the breast. The nostrils flare to allow air in and out.
  • Tilt your baby back, supporting your baby's head, upper back, and shoulders with the palm of your hand, and pull your baby in close.
  • To get your baby to latch, tickle the baby's lips to encourage him or her to open wide. Pull your baby close so that the chin and lower jaw moves into your breast first. Watch the lower lip and aim it as far from the base of the nipple as possible, so the baby takes a large mouthful of breast.

Updated June 6, 2016

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