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Breastfeeding Basics: How to Know if Your Baby Is Latched Properly

Breastfeeding Basics: How to Know if Your Baby Is Latched Properly

A question I heard most often 17 years as a Clinical Lactation Consultant was, “How do I know if my baby is latched on the right way?” 

Along with nerves, excitement, fun (and possibly hectic) family visits and everything in between, a new mother’s biggest concern is, of course, the health and care of her beautiful new-born baby.

First thing’s first - don’t worry, take a breath, and do the best you can, because you are doing great. 

 Breastfeeding Basics: How to Know if Your Baby Is Latched Properly

Next, let’s talk about how to get your baby to latch on. 

Pain is one of the first indicators that your baby is not latched on properly. 

The secret? Tilt back, open wide. 

Try this. Drop your mouth down to your chest, then open your mouth. A bit tricky, no? Now tilt your head back slightly and open it again. See how much easier that is? The easiest way to help our babies to latch properly is to make sure their heads are tilted back a bit. 

You can help support them in that position by holding your baby by the base of his/her head. Open your hand wide and let your baby’s head rest on the palm. Your thumb and middle fingers are almost touching the back of their ears, and when you do this your palm is almost on the top of their back, in this way you actually have full control of the baby’s head. Now, make sure your baby’s nose is in front of your nipple, sometimes you need to slide the baby a bit lower to make this happen.

How to Know if Your Baby Is Latched Properly

Next, since you have full control of the head, tilt their head back a bit and brush their lips with your nipple from the top lip down, this initiates a reflex to open their mouth. Do it until they open wide and at that moment shovel the breast deep inside their mouth, use the fingers from the same hand that you are using to hold the breast, to pull the lower lip down or to help them open the mouth wider.

Now softly replace your hand and arm by using a rolled receiving blanket or small towels. 

There many things you can look for to make sure your baby is latched on and comfortable. The first thing that you must keep in mind is that, if you are feeling pain while you are breastfeeding, is because your baby is not latch properly.

  • As soon as the baby latches you may feel pain, but after 10 seconds you shouldn’t feel pain only a pull.
  • Pain is not right, it means the baby is only attached to the nipple. The baby must have most part of the areola inside of the mouth. If you are feeling a pinch in your breast then:

Take him off the breast by breaking the seal, slide one of your fingers through the corner of his mouth and detach him and start again. 

How to Know if Your Baby Is Latched Properly

But there are a few other clear ways to tell if the baby is latched on properly. 

Here are 9 ways to make sure your baby has the right latch:

  1. Your baby’s cheeks will look round and full (like the baby pictured above). You won’t see their dimples when they are sucking.
  2. Their lips are flanged out, with their mouth open wide, like flower petals, on top of your areola. 
  3. Their lips will cover most of your areola, open wide on top of the breast. 
  4. There is circular movement of the jaw rather than rapid chin movement.
  5. You can hear the baby swallowing.
  6. You don’t hear any clicking or smacking noises.
  7. You can see their tongue when the lower lip is pulled down.
  8. Your baby’s chin should be touching your breast and their nose close, or almost touching your breast. 
  9. You’ll hear rhythmic swallowing and breathing sounds, about 6 to 10 breaths for 4–6 swallows. 

Every new mother’s experience will be different, so remember to be patient with yourself, your newborn and your partner during this phase. Stay hydrated, practice self-care, and most importantly, get plenty of rest. 


Lacti-Cups® can help new nursing moms save 4–12 ounces of breastmilk and hours of pumping and cleaning per day.

They can be used in between feedings and while your baby is feeding from the opposite breast, by collecting all the naturally occurring leaks that are usually wasted in nursing pads. 

Learn more at 

You can also join us on Facebook @Lacti-Cups 

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