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Why won't my baby won't latch properly?

4 min read

Why won't my baby won't latch properly?

Are you a breastfeeding mum who is struggling to get your baby to latch properly? If so, you're not alone. It can be extremely frustrating when your baby won't latch, especially when you're trying to do something that's supposed to be natural and instinctive. However, there are some things you can do to try and encourage your baby to latch correctly. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the reasons why babies might refuse to latch, and offer some tips on how to overcome this issue.

Reasons why your baby may not be latching properly

There are a few common reasons that this might be happening. One possible cause is tongue tie, where the tongue may have too much restriction to make a good seal with the nipple. Another could be incorrect positioning - try varying the angle of your body and supporting the breast in different ways a few of our fave positions are here, feeding pillows can also be helpful to remain comfortable in each position.

Inverted nipples can make it particularly hard for babies to latch on securely, so if that's something you're dealing with it's best to speak to your midwife or lactation consultant about how to tackle it, some mums find our soft  nipple shields helpful for their baby to latch on. Always remember that baby needs to relax - hunger can cause fussiness or restlessness which makes getting into position difficult, watch for their cues such as these from healthline:

  • Being more awake and active (thinking about food makes babies excited)
  • turning their head to the side, as if looking for food
  • opening and closing their mouth (like little birds waiting for the parent bird in a nest)
  • turning their head toward the breast or chest, or a bottle
  • making sucking motions with their mouth (even if they don’t have a pacifier)
  • smacking their lips, drooling more, or sticking out their tongue
  • sucking on their fingers, hands, or clothing
  • clenching their hands into little fists (they’re getting a little frustrated and impatient!)
  • staring at you and following you around the room with their eyes — if you’re the primary person who feeds them
  • giving you a furrowed brow, distressed look that says, “When are we eating?”
  • making the sound “neh!” just before a cry means they’re hungry, according to Dunstan baby language

Using these cues, try to bring them to the breast before they begin to get upset and cry due to hunger. Keep calm and let your little one take their time, with plenty of pauses for comfort and closeness before they get settled into feeding mode.

What you can do to help them latch

Trying to help a baby latch is not always easy, but with patience and support it can be done. To get your little one to latch, relax and try different positions. If you're having trouble, there's nothing wrong with seeking out the help of a professional lactation consultant. Side-lying position can be really helpful for babies and mums getting used to latching — it is a relaxing and natural position for both mum and baby and may relax you both enough to latch on easier. Finally, if difficulties persist, check for tongue ties or other physical issues that can impact latching. The right help and advice at the right time make all the difference in making sure baby gets the best start at breastfeeding possible.

The importance of a good latch

Ensuring that your baby has a good latch is essential to prevent cracked nipples, maintain adequate milk supply, and establish adequate nutrition for your baby. A good latch means that the baby's mouth covers both the nipple and as much of the areola (the surrounding dark skin) as possible. If you are struggling with latch issues, there is lots of help available. Ask your doctor, IBCLC certified lactation consultant, midwife or another breastfeeding mum you know for advice on positioning and techniques to help ensure a good latch. Taking advantage of these resources can make your breastfeeding journey so much easier!

How to tell if your baby is latched on correctly

To check if the baby is properly latched, ensure that their nose and chin are close to the breast with their lower lip curled outward. You should also listen for swallowing and expect to see contentment in their expression and behavior. Additionally, there should be little to no pain for you during feeding, and wet nappies afterward can be an indication of adequate milk intake. Being aware of these signs can help you tell if your baby has established a good latch for successful breastfeeding.

Common mistakes parents make when trying to get their baby to latch

When it comes to getting your baby to latch on correctly, rushing the process is one of the biggest mistakes that parents can make. It's important to try different positions and adjust your positioning until it feels comfortable so that you and your baby are relaxed. Additionally, if you are in any sort of discomfort or pain, take a break, but don't ignore it as this could hinder latching progress. Finally, it's always important for parents to check for a tongue tie in their baby as it is often overlooked since latching can still occur despite having a tongue tie; however, not checking for one can lead to more complications down the road. Overall, be sure to practice patience and ask for help from a lactation consultant if needed who can assist with getting your baby into the correct position and helping him/her latch properly.


Although it can be frustrating, there are many things you can try to help your baby latch correctly. It’s important to get a good latch because it prevents pain for you and helps your baby get the nutrients they need. There are some easy ways to tell if your baby is latched on properly, and common mistakes parents make that can discourage a good latch. With a little patience and persistence, you will likely find success in getting your baby to latch well. If you’ve had trouble with latching in the past, let us know what worked (or didn’t work) for you in the comments below!

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