What to Do When Your Baby Won't Latch?
Breastfeeding is one of the highest forms of bonding and communication between a mom and her baby.
But nothing comes easy right?
Some moms face complications while breastfeeding, where their baby won’t latch. I know, it’s both frustrating and confusing.
But let me tell you, you will get through this. Getting your baby to nurse again is not an impossible task, but it needs patience, persistence and some help! And if your baby doesn't latch, remember you can still give them 100% from your milk which is all that matters. Your baby can depend 100% on pumped milk, or even breastfeed 100% from one breast or the other. It is beautiful how the human body works.
Here are the top 7 tips to help your baby latch:
1. Try different nursing positions. Especially laid back breastfeeding.
Adjust your nursing positions in order to find the one that best suits your baby.
Generally, laying down, leaning back or lying on your side helps minimizing distractions and induce your baby’s ability to breastfeed. Experiment each position to identify the one that comforts your baby and helps him/her latch.
You might be surprised to know many kids don't breastfeed because the milk supply is too quick! Breastfeeding while laid back can really help in this case as it slows down the flow.
2. Minimize distractions
Babies get distracted very quickly. Try breastfeeding in a quiet, dim room to soothe your baby’s mood. You would be surprised how much it helps!
2. Maintain your milk flow:
One of the reasons your baby might refuse to eat is having a small amount of milk. Therefore, try pumping to help maintain/increase your milk supply. If your milk supply is too low, read this article on how to increase it.
Additionally, pumping helps you preserve your milk production while your baby is not benefiting from your milk.
3. Offer breastfeeding when your baby is sleepy
Another smart move to get your baby to nurse when they’re sleepy or drowsy is to try breastfeeding your baby before they take their nap or just as they wake up.
Babies might show less reluctance when they are not fully awake.
4. Maintain skin contact and carry them a lot
Skin contact is KEY. It connects a mom and her baby and helps them better understand their needs. Therefore, provide lots of skin contact as you nurse, lay your baby on your chest, carry him/her all day, or sleep near your baby.
This will induce and renew your baby’s need to breastfeed. Also offer them the bottle while they are on your breast to build trust and closeness.
5. It could be that your breast is "too full"
Try emptying out slightly before breastfeeding through pumping out a little bit or hand expression.
Eventually, be patient, and keep on trying smartly. Don’t panic, your baby just needs some time! If your nipple is inverted, read about it on the "Inverted Nipples Article".
6. Don’t force your baby. Be patient.
DON’T FORCE IT. This will lead to your baby associating breastfeeding with unpleasantness.
When your baby is not nursing, they actually “can’t” nurse. Therefore, make sure you accompany your baby gently until they latch again.
Don’t starve your baby to feed, and if your baby is upset, take a break then try again after they calm down.
7. Please talk to a lactation consultant in your country. They can help you with a nipple shield, tongue tie, or supplemental nursing system.
Please please do not give up on breastfeeding without discussing with a lactation consultant. She will be able to help you identify the problem and solution.
It could be that your baby has a tongue tie or maybe he needs support through a "Supplemental Nursing System" both of which can be tricky to maneuver but are solutions. In addition, you can try breastfeeding with a "nipple shield" which gives the baby the texture of the bottle and may be easier for your baby to feed with. They might be inconvenient and "might" slightly affect milk supply but they can be a great temporary solution. Some women are able to breastfeed with them 100% exclusively.
Please talk to a lactation consultant you trust.
Finally, remember. Breastfeeding doesn't look the same for everyone. Your baby is 100% capable of breastfeeding 100% from one breast! Even if they don't you can pump from one and breastfeed from the other.
Want more tips for breastfeeding and positioning?
You can get access to my breastfeeding course on the following link.
I hope this was helpful!
Mirna Sabbagh, an adult and child dietitian, nutritionist, and lactation consultant. She also has several digital courses: Pregnancy Nutrition Course, breastfeeding course, starting solids 6-12 months course, and also child nutrition for all children including picky eaters, that you can sign up for from the comfort of your home.
The courses are pre-recorded. As soon as you make the course purchase, you will receive a link to watch the course from your phone or laptop.
You can also e-mail Mirna for questions on firstname.lastname@example.org
Mirna is no longer doing consultations. Her online courses and webinars cover 95% of parents common concerns.