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  • Writer's pictureThe Knapp Clinic

What is the Best Breastfeeding Position?

Did you know that breastfeeding is a learned behavior? Most parents try to breastfeed their newborn in the cradle hold. We default to the cradle hold because it is the position we see used in media the most, and by people with older babies (if you are lucky enough to see people nursing their babies in public!) While this position may feel familiar and comfortable, it is very uncomfortable for newborns. The picture below is a very common representation of the newborn breastfeeding positions we have been shown our entire lives. We are exposed to this type on image over and over, so we assume this is the best most natural positions to feed our newborns in...

Newborn breastfeeding Cradle Hold

So, why is the cradle hold, among others, not ideal for a newborn? I like to explain to parents that newborns are like turtles 🐢. When you put a turtle on its back it has no security, stability, or control. When we feel unbalanced and vulnerable it is harder to do even basic tasks. Turtles feel safest when they can put all four feet on the ground and rest their bellies there too. Our babies are like turtles. They feel most secure when they have 5 points of contact!


Babies also have many reflexes that help them to latch. The gape reflex, which helps them gets a deep latch, cannot be expressed well in the cradle hold. Using positions that give them 5 points of contact/stability allow them to use all of these reflexes in an organized way. The baby on the right is feeding in a very defensive, or turtle on its back sort of way 🐢.


So, which position is the best? Well, the Koala hold or semi-reclined are some of the few that give babies 5 points of contact. Another is the side-lying position. These positions bring out all of your newborn's reflexes and allows them to do their best job latching. You may need some help at first, and that is okay! No one becomes an expert with a new skill the first few days they try it. It takes practice, and because these positions are very unfamiliar to us it may take a bit more practice. Many times it is the small details that make the biggest difference!

Breastfeeding semi-reclined or Koala hold

You might initially think that this baby is in a cradle hold, but if you look closely you will see this baby is in a semi reclined hold. The baby is froggy legged and laying belly to belly with its mother and both arms are free to support the baby and assist the baby to unlatch if needed. The baby's chin would have been the first thing to contact the breast allowing for a deep latch. Our babies are smart! If we give them the opportunity to latch well they will do everything they can do it. Afterall, breastfeeding is designed to be rewarding for both of you!

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