Suggestions on how to hold your baby during breastfeeding.

Hold the baby close

This may mean having to remove some blankets, or bulky clothing. (Don’t worry about them getting cold – this won’t happen if they’re held close to your body.)

Tummy to tummy and nose opposite nipple

If you can see your baby’s tummy button, they’re not turned close enough to latch well. Babies should be breastfed ‘tummy to tummy’.

Support the baby with their nose opposite the nipple – smelling the milk will help the baby to do all the right things with their mouth to achieve a latch.

Cross-cradle position

A woman breastfeeding her baby. The baby is feeding from her left breast, and she supports its neck with her right hand.

It is often easier to start breastfeeding by holding the baby in the cross-cradle position. This means the baby’s head is supported with your hand at the base of their neck.

For example, if feeding your baby on the left breast, hold them with your right arm, supporting their body with your right hand at the base of their neck. Use your left-hand thumb to gently pull the nipple upwards so it is point toward the baby’s nose.

If you have larger breasts, you can support your breast with your left hand – just make sure your fingers are well away from the areola. The baby might not be able to latch if there’s a finger in a way.

Baby’s natural head tilt

The position of your hand is important as the baby needs to be able to put their head back slightly.

Babies do this little head tilt by themselves as it helps them come to the breast with the chin first – rather than being squashed into the breast with the nose and chin together.

Make sure your arm or hand is not behind the baby’s head, or they might not be able to do it.

A woman berastfeeding her baby, with her baby cradled with its head in the nook of her right arm, feeding from the right breast.

Adjusting to a cradle hold

Once baby is latched well, you can adjust your position to a cradle hold, which might be more comfortable.

Release your hold on your breast (unless it is very heavy and full, in which case you may need to support it during the feed – see the underarm/rugby hold) and move your arm gently around the baby.

A woman breastfeeding her baby. The baby is held under her right arm to feed from the right breast.

Other positions

The underarm or rugby hold can also be useful if your breasts are heavy, as the weight is partially supported by the baby.

Using a lying-down position or the underarm or rugby hold can be useful if you’ve undergone a caesarean.

A woman lying down and breastfeeding her baby.

When you’re more comfortable with breastfeeding you can move from the cross-cradle to a cradle position right from the beginning of a feed.


View the slideshow on Breastfeeding positions on the Mayo Clinic website.

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