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How to Hold and Breastfeed your Baby

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

How will I know when my baby is ready to breastfeed?

Your baby may let you know when he or she is ready to breastfeed. He or she may be wide awake and moving his or her arms and legs more. Your baby may turn his or her head toward your breast and move his or her mouth more. Your baby may put his or her hand up to his or her mouth and suck the fingers or fist. Crying is often a late sign that your baby is hungry. Crying may make it hard for him or her to latch onto your breast.

How do I hold my baby during breastfeeding?

Choose a position that is comfortable for you. With all positions, your baby should be able to tilt his or her head slightly backward. It should be tilted enough so he or she can open his or her mouth wide to latch (attach) onto your breast. Your baby's hip, torso, shoulder, and head should be in a straight line facing you. Use pillows, towels, or blankets to support you or your baby.

How do I help my baby latch on correctly?

Help your baby move his or her head to reach your breast. Hold the nape of his or her neck to help him or her latch onto your breast. Touch his or her top lip with your nipple and wait for him or her to open his or her mouth wide. Your baby's lower lip and chin should touch the areola (dark area around the nipple) first. Help him or her get as much of the areola in his or her mouth as possible. You should feel as if your baby will not separate from your breast easily. A correct latch helps your baby get the right amount of milk at each feeding. Allow your baby to breastfeed for as long as he or she is able.

Correct Latch-on Breastfeeding

How do I know if my baby is latched on correctly?

How often should I breastfeed my baby?

Breastfeed your baby 8 to 12 times each day or as often as he or she wants. Your baby may breastfeed for about 15 to 20 minutes on each breast. Some babies breastfeed for a shorter or longer amount of time. Let your baby feed from each breast until he or she stops on his or her own. Express your breast milk every 2 to 3 hours if you are away from your baby. Ask for more information about using your hand or a pump to express breast milk.

Where can I find support and more information about breastfeeding my baby?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.