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When Latching A Breastfeeding Baby

Push baby’s bottom into your body with the side (the same side as where your baby finger is) of your forearm.

This will bring him towards your breast with the nipple pointing to the roof of his mouth.

Mother’s hand under the baby’s face, palm up.

Head supported but NOT pushed in against breast.

Head tilted back slightly.

Baby’s body and legs wrapped in around mother.

Use your whole arm to bring the baby onto the breast, when mouth wide.

Chin and lower jaw touch breast first.

WATCH LOWER LIP, aim it as far from base of nipple as possible, so tongue draws lots of breast into mouth.

Move baby’s body and head together – keep baby uncurled.

Once latched, top lip will be close to nipple, areola shows above lip. Keep chin close against breast.

image of baby with mouth open wide about to latch on 



Need mouth wide before baby moved onto breast. Teach baby to open wide/gape:

move baby toward breast, touch top lip against nipple

move mouth away SLIGHTLY

touch top lip against nipple again, move away again

repeat until baby opens wide and has tongue forward

Or, better yet, run nipple along the baby’s upper lip, from one corner to the other, lightly, until baby opens wide


image of mother's view of baby about to latch on  


Move baby not breast


image of nursing baby successfully latched on 


Mother’s posture

sit with straight, well-supported back

trunk facing forwards, lap flat

Baby’s position before feed begins

on pillow can be helpful,

nipple points to the baby’s upper lip or nostril

Baby’s body

placed not quite tummy to tummy, but so that baby comes up to breast from below and baby’s eyes make contact with mother’s

Support breast

firm inner breast tissue by raising breast slightly with fingers placed flat on chest wall and thumb pointing up (if helpful, also use sling or tensor bandage around breast)

Move baby quickly on to breast

head tilted back slightly, pushing in across shoulders so chin and lower jaw make first contact (not nose) while mouth still wide open, keep baby uncurled (means tongue nearer breast) lower lip is aimed as far from nipple as possible so baby’s tongue draws in maximum amount of breast tissue


Mother needs to AVOID

pushing her breast across her body

chasing the baby with her breast

flapping the breast up and down

holding breast with scissor grip

not supporting breast

twisting her body towards the baby instead of slightly away

aiming nipple to centre of baby’s mouth

pulling baby’s chin down to open mouth

flexing baby’s head when bringing to breast

moving breast into baby’s mouth instead of bringing baby to breast

moving baby onto breast without a proper gape

not moving baby onto breast quickly enough at height of gape

having baby’s nose touch breast first and not the chin

holding breast away from baby’s nose (not necessary if the baby is well latched on, as the nose will be away from the breast anyway)

See videos at

Handout A, When Latching

Revised : January 2005

Original written and designed by Anne Barnes

This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission, on the condition that it is not used in any context in which the WHO code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes is violated.

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