Home » Blog » Why a Newborn Baby Keeps Latching and Unlatching Repeatedly [updated]

Why a Newborn Baby Keeps Latching and Unlatching Repeatedly [updated]

Breastfeeding is a whole new experience for every new mom. It is mostly the only way your newborn baby gets their meals. It is essential that your baby latches well and for enough time so that they can get the nourishment they need to grow. Sometimes though, your baby will latch, suck a little, and then unlatch.

Why could this be happening if your baby unlatches during breastfeeding?

1. Your Milk Supply Is Too High

Your baby may keep on unlatching when the milk flow is too high. The milk may be coming out at a higher rate than they can swallow. This may overwhelm them, making them unlatch every few minutes to take a break. Try releasing the breast compression to reduce the force the milk is coming out with. Let your baby take a break for a few minutes then try to latch them again.

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2. Too Little Milk

Sometimes your milk supply is low. This is especially so in the evening when the baby has been feeding the whole day. This may also happen when you express milk too close to feeding time. Try compressing the breast. This will put pressure on the milk gland increasing milk flow. If you have to express milk to preserve for future use, always do so about 20minutes after feeding the baby. This gives your breasts enough time to produce sufficient milk for the next feed.

3. Baby Is Used To Bottle Feeding

Bottles have a relatively higher flow than breasts. If you had previously fed your little one on a bottle, they might get frustrated when the flow is lower than they had experienced. This is more likely when they are starving. You have to be patient with your baby and keep latching them back when they unlatch. As they grow, they’ll get used to both

4. Distracted Baby

At around 12weeks, a baby starts noticing their surroundings and the people around them. Your baby may unlatch to stare at your face, listen to a sibling or dad’s voice, or even when a particular commercial is played on TV. This is perfectly normal, and it only shows your baby is developing mentally.

5. Baby Is Teething

When a baby is teething, the gums become increasingly sour and tender. Breastfeeding becomes painful and uncomfortable, so they keep unlatching. Use teething soothers or a mild pain reliever before breastfeeding. Ensure the baby latches well so that it is less painful to the sensitive gums. A baby can start teething from as young as three months. It is important to keep checking the gums.

6. Your Baby Is Full

If your baby is full, they will keep latching and unlatching on the boob. Bring the baby to burp and see if they want to continue feeding. If they unlatch, they are full. 

Sometime, your baby may keep latching and latching because they are positioned wrongly. They may be feeling uncomfortable while feeding. Try to change your baby’s position or even give them the other breast to feed on. Other times, your baby wants to suck on something but doesn’t want breast milk. In this case, give the baby a pacifier to suck on.

How to Correct a Shallow Latch Breastfeeding?

The sweet baby-mother bonding experience is perhaps the best example of human love. Mothers love the wonderful maternal joy of creating the liquid and babies suck the liquid to thrive and grow. Words fail to describe the bonding relationship between a mother and a baby. However, this one of a kind bond can quickly become a nightmare due to shallow latch breastfeeding. Unsatisfied babies and low milk transfer are highly undesirable for babies and moms. However, there are solutions to fix the problem.

What is shallow latch breastfeeding?

Before checking the solutions, let’s figure out what a shallow latch is. Essentially, a shallow latch is a situation where a mom’s nipple doesn’t get to the back of the baby’s palate. Rather, the nipple is crushed against the gums or the hard palate. In such a situation, the baby doesn’t get to suck milk properly. An unsatisfied baby gains weight slowly, which can affect his overall growth and development.

Many reasons contribute to shallow latch breastfeeding. A baby’s lips tucking inward rather than flanged outward is the main cause of a shallow latch. An unusual palate shape and abnormal infant anatomies such as the lip-tie or tongue-tie are other causes of a shallow latch. No matter the reason, there are ways to correct the latch. Here’s how.

Feed the baby before he/she becomes frantic

Handling a frantic baby is extremely difficult. This is even more correct when the baby starts crying loudly out of hunger. The calmer the baby and the mom, the easier it’s to ensure deep latch breastfeeding. A crying baby could bite your nipples. If this is the case, you may endure pain. That will affect the latch on process. Eventually, your baby will be half-fed.

As such, it’s best to feed the baby when you identify the first indications of hunger. Turning the head from one side to another, smacking the lips, and putting a hand into the mouth are a baby’s signs that he/she wants to eat. For newborn babies, it’s wise to feed when they wake up.

Find an ideal position

For your baby’s nourishment, where and how you feed matters most. According to studies, moms who try a minimum of two latch breastfeeding positions are likely to feed their babies for more than six/seven months. Try a couple of different positions to figure out which position is convenient for you and lets your baby feed well.

Here are some positions that may help to resolve a shallow latch.

Crossover – This particular position works well for newborn babies. Sit on a comfy chair while relaxing your arms. Hold your baby in your arm’s crook and rest his belly against yours. Support his/her head and tilt him/her toward your breast until he/she latches on. Now continue cradling your baby’s head during the breastfeeding procedure.

Cradle hold – Rather than supporting the baby with your hands on the opposite side, prop him/her up with your arm on the same side of the nursing breast. You may even use a boppy or pillow for support. See to it that your baby latches on properly to ensure comfortable latch breastfeeding.

Football hold – The football hold slides the baby at your side with legs tucked beneath your arm (like a football) on the side of the nursing breast. Such a position is helpful in many situations. For instance, if you’ve a premature or small baby, have large breasts, or have twins, the football hold will be handy.

Laid back – If you’ve small breasts, the laid back position could be extremely useful. Just lean back and let the baby latch from any side. Gravity will keep the baby close to you and ensure proper latch breastfeeding.

Side lying – This position is perfect for feeding your baby in the middle of the night. Both the baby and the mom lie tummy to tummy. The mom positions her breast to the baby’s mouth. Although this position is extremely comfortable for night feeding, you need to ascertain that the bedding around the baby isn’t loose. Loose bedding can pose a suffocation hazard and your baby may have a shallow latch.

Not all positions are perfect for every mom. You need to try the varied positions to figure out a couple of ideal options. While it’ll take some time before you get used to with the positions, the result will be perfect latch breastfeeding and a happy child.

Wait for the baby’s mouth to open wide

If you want your baby to latch on deeply, check his mouth. A baby, in order to, latch deeply ought to have a mouth that looks like a fish’s mouth. It should be wide open with lips apart and cheeks rounded. Your child should have your nipple and a major portion of the areola in the mouth.

In the case of a shallow latch, the child’s lips are turned inward that keeps him from deep latch breastfeeding. If your child has a shallow latch, he’s actually nipple feeding. He sucks less milk and bites your nipples. To fix the problem, see to it that your child’s mouth is wide open for proper nourishment. In deep latching, your baby sucks maximum milk from your breast.

Unlatch the shallow latch and try again

Many moms think that their baby will enjoy deep latching every time. However, that’s not true. It’s the duty of the mother to ensure that the child enjoys deep latch breastfeeding every time. At times, you don’t have to worry about deep latching. This is even more correct when your baby is hungry but calm.

However, there might be situations when the baby is taking a shallow latch. You ought to check the latching-on process each time your baby sucks milk. If you find that your baby has a shallow latch, unlatch and try again. Make adjustments in your positions and let your baby’s mouth open properly. A little bit of legwork should resolve the issue.

Fix your nipples and child’s mouth

Your nipples may likely be swollen or cracked for one or the other reason. In such a case, your baby won’t enjoy proper latch breastfeeding. Whenever your baby will suck milk, you’ll feel pain in your nipples. Consequently, you’ll keep your baby from deep latching.

Another possible problem is issues with your baby’s mouth. Your child might be experiencing pain in his mouth. If this is the case, he won’t be able to suck milk properly. Both situations lead to a shallow latch. However, you can fix these issues by contacting a reliable physician. In accordance with your child’s mouth or your health condition, the doctor will render suitable medications. Over time, the wound or injury will heal and make the way for proper latching.

Use the sandwich technique

In this technique, the mother compresses her breast by making a U shape with her hand for comfortable latch breastfeeding. First of all, make certain that the baby is in complete bodily contact with you. At the same time, be sure that you’re comfortable and in the reclining position. Place the baby in such a way that his chin is toward your breast with head tilted back slightly.

Put the nipple above the baby’s upper lips. If you think that the latch is still shallow, compress the breast to make a U shape. Be sure that your fingers don’t touch the baby’s face as that could induce the baby to close his mouth. Such an adjustment allows the baby to self-latch in the best manner.

Try flipping

In some cases, your baby may not be able to get the best latch breastfeeding. Your child may suck full milk for some time. Then he might close his mouth. If this is the case, try the flipping technique. Here, you may have to do some legwork to make up for the loss of deep latching.

Keep changing the positions frequently. Whenever you think that your child closes his mouth or is experiencing a shallow latch, change the position. Your little labor will keep the baby filling and happy.

Talk to a professional

If you try all the above tips, your baby should be able to enjoy deep latch breastfeeding. In case you find that your child is still experiencing a shallow latch, you may want to talk to a medical expert. In certain cases, a medical situation such as the tongue-tie may keep your baby from nursing. A medical expert will diagnose the problem and provide medications or other options to fix the issue.

Bottom line

Breastfeeding is the best example of mom-baby bonding. While the baby feels satisfied with milk, the mother feels happy to feed her baby. However, this lovely experience can easily manifest into a problem, thanks to shallow latch breastfeeding. In such situations, the mother feels pain, whereas the baby doesn’t suck milk. Both are unsatisfied, which is undesirable for the baby and the mom. However, fixing a shallow latch isn’t a big issue. Many solutions exist to resolve the problem. Stick to the above options and you could correct a shallow latch within no time.