A Good Breastfeeding Latch Vs. A Poor Breastfeeding Latch

How to Tell If Your Baby Is Latched On Well

How To Tell A Good Breastfeeding Latch From A Poor Breastfeeding Latch
Can you tell the difference between a good latch and a poor latch?. Stockbyte/Getty Images

The Importance Of A Good Breastfeeding Latch

A good latch is one of the most important aspects of breastfeeding. When your baby latches on well, you are much more likely to be successful at nursing your child. With a poor latch, your baby will not get as much breast milk and may not gain weight. A poor latch can also be very uncomfortable for you and lead to some of the common problems of breastfeeding.

So, how can you tell if your baby is latching on correctly? Here are some things you can look for to help you recognize a good latch vs. a poor latch.

The Signs Of A Good Breastfeeding Latch

  • Your baby is latched on to more than just your nipple. The amount of your areola, the darker area of your breast around your nipple that your baby takes in will depend on the size of your nipples and the size of your areola. In general, your baby should have your entire nipple and approximately 1 inch or more of your areola in his mouth.
  • Your baby's lips should be turned out (think fish lips) and flat against your breast.
  • Your child's chin and nose will be touching your breast.
  • The baby's tongue will be down on the underside of your breast. It will be over the bottom of your baby's lower gum and may be visible sticking out of his or her bottom lip.
  • You will notice your baby sucking and swallowing.
  • You should not feel any pain other than maybe an initial tenderness when the baby first latches on.
  • Your breasts will feel softer and less full after each feeding, and your baby will seem satisfied.
  • Your child will be gaining weight and growing at a healthy pace.

The Signs Of A Poor Breastfeeding Latch

  • Your baby is latched on to just your nipple.
  • You do not see or hear your baby swallowing.
  • The baby's cheeks are sucked in.
  • The baby's lips are tucked inward.
  • You can hear your baby making clicking or smacking noises.
  • You have sore nipples and breastfeeding is becoming more and more painful.
  • Your milk supply is low.
  • Your baby continues to show signs of hunger after nursing.
  • Your baby is not gaining weight consistently.  

If you do not see the signs of a good latch when you put your baby to your breast, break the suction of the latch, remove your child and try again. For help with getting your baby latched on properly talk to your doctor, a lactation consultant or your local La Leche group.   


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition.  Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

Newman, Jack, MD, Pitman, Theresa. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. Three Rivers Press. New York. 2006.

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