Feeding Your Baby at the Breast

Feeding Cues

Begin breastfeeding when you see your baby showing any of these early hunger cues:

  • Licking
  • Sucking movements
  • Rooting
  • Bringing hand to face or mouth  

Crying is a late hunger cue, and many babies have trouble latching once they become frustrated and begin to cry.

  • Make yourself comfortable.
  • Hold your baby at the level of your breast. Place a pillow or two on your lap.
  • Hold your baby so that his whole body is facing you.
  • Support your breast by holding it at the base while compressing your breast in the same direction as your baby’s mouth.
  • Position your baby so that her nose is at the level of your nipple.  
  • While supporting your breast, tilt the nipple upward and stroke baby’s lips until mouth opens wide.
  • In one quick move, bring your baby to your breast with chin leading first when he opens his mouth.
  • Both upper and lower lips should be flanged outward over areola, chin dug into the breast.
  • Most of the darker part of the breast ( the areola) should be inside baby’s mouth.  
  • Your baby will start feeding with a period of quick sucks at the beginning. After this, your baby’s sucking should deepen and you should see and hear regular swallowing.
  • You should feel a strong pulling sensation as baby sucks. If you feel pain during the feed for more than several seconds, break the suction by placing your baby finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth, and he will release your breast.
  • Start over with latching on.
  • If pain persists, contact a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).
  • If your baby stops sucking at the breast, gently compress your breast to express milk in her mouth to remind her to keep sucking.
  • When your baby is positioned, latched on, and sucking well, he will come off the breast spontaneously when he is finished either by falling asleep or popping off on his own.
  • Burp her and offer the second breast. Feeding on both breasts should take at least 20 minutes.

For additional information on this Health Topic, call the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at 513-636-2326.


Last Updated 12/2013