top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Knapp Clinic

Is This a Good Latch?

Updated: Sep 23, 2023

We often tell parents that they need to make sure they get a "good" latch, and that a "bad" latch can cause a lot of problems. We associate a bad latch with pain, skin damage, and slow weight gain in the baby. Often, a good latch is basically described as a latch that isn't painful.

Mother breastfeeding

This advice leaves so many boobytraps on the road new parents are walking. I prefer to teach parents how to read their baby's body language and combine that with feeding observations to figure out if the latch and feeding session was efficient and effective. Remember, babies are like elite athletes, they have been training for this for their whole life (your whole pregnancy!) They know they have to eat, not only to survive but thrive! If they are struggling they will tell you.

*Remember spoken language is the smallest part of communication, babies do not need to talk to communicate, and it's our job to learn how to "read" and interpret the information they are giving us.*

The first thing I want parents to realize is that they know their baby better than anyone else! The first cells that eventually become their baby have been with them since they were a tiny fetus inside their own mother.

  1. The first sign of a good latch is that your baby is in a stable and supported position. Babies need to feel stable and safe to latch really well. Positions that provide the most stability are ones that provide 5 points of contact. See breastfeeding positioning posts...

  2. The baby's face/head should be tilted slightly up and back, like when you drink from a cup or when you are trying to smell something. This is called the "sniffing position."

  3. The baby's chin should be pushing into the breast.

  4. The baby's nose should not be touching the breast.

  5. When you look at the corner of your baby's mouth the angle where the upper and lower lip meet should look like the angle between your thumb and index finger when you spread them as far apart as possible. If it looks like this < the latch is shallow.

  6. If we're lucky you should see your baby's tongue peaking out between your breast and their lower lip.

  7. You should initially see quick sucking bursts. Then the pattern should change as they start swallowing milk. Once milk is flowing, you should see/hear 1-2 sucks followed by a swallow. Swallowing sounds like a "Keh" noise. It is not a "click" or "slurp."

  8. You should NOT have pain. If you already have damage to your skin it will initially be uncomfortable or painful, but that should rapidly turn to mild discomfort or no pain within the first 30-60 seconds. Nipples heal rapidly with effective latches and efficient nursing.

  9. After the feeding, your baby should unlatch themselves, and your nipple should look round without creases, bleeding, or blanching (like the blood has been squeezed out of them.) Your nipples should not look like a brand new tube of lipstick, a nuk pacifier, or like a duck's bill.

  10. Your baby's hands should be completely open, relaxed, and their arms should be limp by their sides. The hands Do Not Lie! If the hands are curled, closed, or clenched your baby is still hungry, even if they fell asleep.

Hopefully you will find these tips helpful for yourself or your patients/clients!

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page