Latch Tricks

1- Try “gravity assist” positions. Laid back nursing where baby nurses “on top”, dangle nursing where you get on your hands and knees and lower your breast into baby’s mouth. It’s harder for baby to latch on shallowly when the weight of their head or the weight of your breast is helping them latch on.

2- Try the “spring loaded” deep latch trick:

3- Try the “roll up and point for the palate” trick. Similar to the trick above you roll the nipple up. But instead of letting go and letting it spring into baby’s mouth, try to aim it for the baby’s palate and then move it up and down while stroking their cheek to encourage latch. I do this with my daughter when she’s refusing to latch. Which is almost every time I latch her on. (She has a mean tongue thrust/gag reflex). To do this, support baby’s neck in the crook of one of your arms. With the opposite hand place your middle finger under the breast and your thumb on top of the breast. This leaves your index finger free to stroke baby’s cheek. Press your thumb down and back towards your body to “roll the nipple up”. Touch your nipple to baby’s nose and then bring it down to chin and back to nose, etc. until baby opens up. When you bring it up above baby’s nose baby sort of cranes head back and opens his mouth. Aim the nipple for the palate and insert. If baby tries to chomp down too soon, pull nipple back and tease baby a bit more until he opens his mouth wide enough to get the nipple into his palate area. move breast up and down until baby latches on.

4- If baby is flailing arms and bobbing head, baby is probably having trouble finding the nipple. Babies don’t rely on sight, they seek the nipple through feel. Lay baby’s face on your breast and put baby’s hands on your breast before you try to latch baby on. When baby can feel the breast baby tends to calm down and latch on a bit easier.

5- Listen for sounds. If baby’s making clicking sounds, baby’s tongue is either on top of or in front of your nipple instead of under it. If the nipple is creased, it’s on top of the nipple. If the nipple has blisters at the tip, it’s in front of the nipple. Unlatch and re-latch. “Finger training” where you let baby suck on your pinky finger – pad in the palate and nail towards the tongue) can be helpful with clicky nursers.

6- If baby won’t latch onto one side, try the other side. Sometimes baby’s just having a hard time with a particular position and  moving to the other side can help baby figure things out.

7- Change baby’s diaper and wash off their diaper area with a wet washcloth instead of a wipe. Sometimes babies will refuse to latch if they’re uncomfortable.

8- Get baby rooting. Touch their nose and chin with your nipple, stroke their cheek. If they’re rooting they’ll latch on better.

9- Try “side laying” nursing. Lay down on your side, lay baby down on his side facing you. Pull baby close. Rotate baby’s body to see if there’s a good angle where baby is close, baby’s nose is clear of your breast, and baby can latch easily. Often my daughter will latch on like this even when she’s fussy.

10- Make sure baby can feel your breast. Baby will bob his head and move his hands around trying to find your breast and will often push it out of the way. Put his hands on your breast and hold his face against it and see if that helps him calm down to latch.

11- Make sure you support baby by the back of the neck NOT the head. Often a baby will pull away if their head is being pushed or held. I’ve found that sometimes when my daughter is reluctant to latch it helps to move my arm down so that it’s behind the upper part of her shoulders and the lower part of her neck so that her head tilts back slightly.

5 thoughts on “Latch Tricks

  1. Thank you for this post. I am a new mom breastfeeding and still figuring things out. If my baby is bobbing his head and flailing his arms could it be from nipple confusion too? I find that he does this after getting the pacifier and I am wondering if I should stop it all together. Thanks!

    1. It could be nipple confusion. It’s hard to know. Pacifiers definitely cause issues, as do bottles. But some babies are just really really not good at latching. My daughter is one of those babies. She refuses a pacifier, refuses a bottle, and gives me a hard time about latching on to the breast as well. She wants to nurse she just has a serious tongue thrust reflex that pushes everything out of her mouth.

      If you’re having issues it’s best to eliminate all the possibilities. Bottles, pacifiers, etc. are easy firsts.

      I find that the head bobbing/arm flailing happens most when my baby’s hungry and has been distracted by something else. Like the ceiling fan. It could be that your baby sucks on the pacifier too long, realizes he’s hungry and then flails around becuase he’s so hungry he’s upset.

      Try getting rid of the pacifier and see if things get easier.

  2. How important is it to have baby lying on her side during side-lying? My baby will usually just turn her head only to latch on when we’re side-lying & I’m wondering if that may lead to issues like ear infections or make her more gassy.

    1. If it doesn’t cause any problems, that’s fine too. My daughter likes doing that sometimes. :) It’s just easier for latch if everyone’s on their side. :) Back is safer if you co-sleep that way if you fall asleep while nursing baby is on his/her back.

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