Quick Start Guide to Feeding Your Baby

Welcome! I created this page to give an overview of some common topics that I often provide education about to new and expectant families.

Positioning & Latching Your Baby

For many newborns, nursing in a laid-back, baby-led manner (also known as Biological Nurturing) works well because it helps them tune into their neonatal reflexes. Here are a few videos and resources about that method:

Breastfeeding Success

Breastfeeding USA page: Baby-Led Latch: How to awaken your baby’s breastfeeding instincts

And there’s a whole book on the subject!

Tips for a Better Latch in Other Positions

If the laid-back, baby-led nursing positioning method doesn’t seem to be working well for you and your baby, there are a number of other positions you can consider trying. These include cross-cradle, cradle, football, koala hold, and side-lying. The last two tend to be my favorites and I’m happy to chat about why!

In all of these positions we’re trying to support a baby’s instincts and reflexes, and mimic as much as possible the ways that babies self-attach.

Here are some tips that may be helpful in finding comfort of you and your baby throughout a nursing session:

  • Bring your baby to the your body rather than moving your breast/chest toward your baby.
  • Turn your baby so their chest/tummy is touching your body. Make sure your baby is in good alignment – their ear, shoulder, and hip in a line.
  • You can place your palm on your baby’s upper back and your fingers and thumb can support the base of your baby’s head. You can then use your forearm and elbow to bring your baby’s bottom as close as possible. Tuck your baby against your body so they have positional stability but can still move their heads fully.

You can help your baby to get a deeper latch by getting as much of your breast/chest tissue in their mouth as possible, not just the nipple.

  • Notice that when your baby’s chin touches your skin it triggers a wide-open mouth, like a yawn.
  • When you see a WIDE mouth, quickly move your baby closer to help their chin/lower lip come into to the areola and let your baby latch on.
  • Tucking your baby’s bottom even closer to your body helps maintain a good latch. You may also try gently pressing on your baby’s back between the shoulder blades.
WomensHealth.gov Images of Latching

Check out the full page from the U.S. Office of Women’s Health about positioning and latching your baby

Signs that your baby has a deep latch:

  • It’s not painful. (If there’s initial latch pain it should go away after the first 30-60 seconds)
  • Your baby’s chin indents the breast/chest and their nose is near or just touching the breast/chest
  • Babies often have more areola in the mouth near the lower jaw (asymmetric latch)
  • At the end of the feeding your nipple is evenly rounded – no ridges, or “lipstick” shape

If necessary, you can try to “sandwich” a bit of your breast/chest to help your baby latch more deeply:

  • Hold your fingers and thumb on the side of the areola, not too close to your nipple.
  • Align your thumb with your baby’s mouth (like a mustache).
  • You may find that your baby is able to grasp more tissue if you release your fingers and let go of the “sandwich” after attachment.
  • An alternative to this sandwiching method may be the “flipple” method. Here’s more info on that:

And this whole page from The Milk Meg.

Maintaining comfort

  • Keep your baby close during the entire feeding.
  • Once your baby is attached, check in on your own comfort. Take a few deep breaths. See if you can find more ease in your body. Sink into the bed. Drop or roll your shoulders. Open and close your jaw a few times. Take a sip of water or have a snack.
  • Use a pillow or rolled up blanket to support your hand and arm during feedings rather than just having your baby resting on a pillow.

Keeping Feeding Efficient

Newborns spend a lot of time nursing and sleeping. But if they fall asleep while nursing it can lengthen “feeding” times when they are not actively transferring milk. Here’s a video of good drinking:

  • If sucking, jaw movements, and audible swallowing slows down, you can gently stimulate your baby to see if they start sucking again.
  • If not, use gentle massage from your collar bone toward your baby, moving your hands to stroke different sections of your chest. This can help increase milk flow.
  • If your baby doesn’t start swallowing again, you can move them to the second side, or even back to the first side if you’re doing “switch nursing.”

How to Know Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

Suckling: Baby feeds often — 8-12+ feedings per day, or about every 1-3 hours.

Swallowing: You should hear a swallow for nearly every suck. Baby’s jaw extends fully (you can look for jaw and ear movement), pauses, and audible swallows are rhythmic.

Satisfaction: Baby seems satisfied (after most feedings). In the early days this can be tricky to tell if they’re satiated vs. just sleepy. If your baby wakes up shortly after feedings it can be a sign to try to increase feeding quality.

Soaking: Before milk transition, expect 1 wet diaper per day of age. For example, on day 3 your baby should have 3 wet diapers. After milk transition your baby should have 6-8+ wet diapers per day.

Stools: Baby should have 3-12+ yellow-ish and seedy looking bowel movements per day after milk transition.

Scales: Weight gain averages 0.75-1.5 ounces each day. More information on average weight gain can be found here.

Reach out for more lactation support if:
• You have concerns about positioning or latch comfort, or the quality of nursing sessions.
• Your baby has fewer wet/soiled diapers than expected (see above).
• Your baby has dark colored urine after day 3 (should be pale yellow to clear).
• Your baby has dark colored stools after day 5 (should be yellow-ish, without residual meconium).
• You have symptoms of engorgement that make it hard to latch your baby, or lasting for 12+ hours.
• You have symptoms of plugged ducts or mastitis.
• You have any questions or concerns about your baby, your milk production, or anything else breastfeeding/chestfeeding – at any point, at any time through weaning.

I’m happy to be a source of support for all families.
You can contact me anytime or book a virtual session now.

Joy MacTavish

Joy MacTavish, IBCLC offers support for all lactation related topics including pumping and return to work, weaning and more.

In addition to lactation I offer Family Coaching & Education including Babywearing, Gentle Sleep, Elimination Communication and Gentle Potty Training, Starting Solids, and Holistic Parenting support consultations.