Common baby latching problems

10 Common Baby Latching Problems and what to do about them

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Assuming breast milk doesn’t contain the needed nutrients for babies’ growth and development, many mothers will forgo the act of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding isn’t all about putting your nipples in a baby’s mouth and letting her suck; it’s far more than that. You have to worry about the downs of breastfeeding your baby, including low milk supply, painful nipples, latching problems, etc. This article will address some of the latching problems babies usually face.

The ability to latch onto the nipple successfully differs amongst babies. You’ll find some baby with the automatic instinct to latch on for milk while you’ll see some babies that won’t know how to latch- unless you teach them. However, even the baby with the perfect latching ability might have issues with it. Thus, you’ll see the common latching problems here and the solution if your baby faces any of them.

Common Baby Latching Problems

1) Baby won’t unlatch while sleeping

Sometimes your baby won’t unlatch while sleeping and if you try to unlatch them, they start crying, so you quickly put the breast back into their mouths. This can be frustrating especially when you need to sleep yourself. Below are 3 ways to fix a baby who won’t unlatch while sleeping.

a. Get a good pacifier for the baby. If your baby has been rejecting a pacifier, try other pacifiers for them. You can try out the BIBS BPA-Free Natural Rubber Baby Pacifier (available on Amazon). As you unlatch the baby with one hand, use the other hand to fix in the pacifier before the start crying.

b. Wait it out. It comes to a time when the baby will stop it, usually between the ages of 12 months old. So you can patiently wait it out.

c. Try to get it out of their mind by walking or singing with them.

2) Baby hungry but keeps unlatching

The second problem you can experience with the baby unlatching is your baby is hungry but keeps unlatching. After they unlatch, they become fussy and looking for nipples to latch on again. There are several things that can cause it. Find some of them below and also ways you can resolve them.

a. Baby having a tongue-tie. If your baby has a tongue-tie, they will find it difficult to keep latching. So, visit your Pediatrician to check it out. Once, it is resolved, your baby will keep latching normally.

b. Low supply of milk: If your milk supply is not enough for your baby, the baby will be hungry and keep unlatching. To solve this, eat foods that can boost your milk supply such as mothers’ milk tea, and oatmeal. Second, supplement with formula. Once you notice that your baby is still hungry, give them a bottle of formula to supplement.

c. Sit with the baby in a rocking chair and rock them, pat their bum, while your breastmilk recollects. Also, you can compress your breast to get the milk flowing again.

3) Baby keeps unlatching and crying

The third baby latching problem is baby keeps unlatching and crying. There are also reasons why some babies will do this. The first is the fact that they cannot multitask. They may be processing a poop or they are gassy and need to get them out. Latching will not be fun at such a time. Other things that can cause it includes low milk supply as described above, tongue-tie, burping needs, oversupply of breast milk, etc. Below are what you can do about it.

a. Check the baby for a tongue or lip tie
b. Pump more if you have an oversupply of breastmilk
c. Increase your milk supply if it is low
d. Burp your baby often and give them space to poop or release gas.

4) Baby arches its back when trying to latch

Your baby arching the back when trying to latch is a common problem. If your baby arches her back during breastfeeding, it’ll distort her position and might not get the ability to latch properly. Although your baby’s back arching might also mean she doesn’t want to be fed at that moment. Find the solution below:

a. The solution to this latching problem is to correct your baby’s position and place her right for deep latching. You might also try not feeding her that time and breastfeed at a later time.

b. Be patient with the baby and keep giving the breast to them while you talk to them.

c. Massage your boob and squeeze some milk to get the milk flowing. When the baby latches, compress the breast instantly.

d. Pat the baby’s back for a while to help them bulp.

5) Baby refuses to latch deeply

Your baby not latching deeply might be caused by several factors. The factors include premature birth, inverted or flat nipples, and difficult birth. Yes, having a flat or inverted nipple can cause your baby not to latch deeply, but you don’t have to worry as there’s a solution for this latching problem.

a. Visit a lactation consultant to run some checks and diagnose both you and the baby. Then, the consultant can give you a possible solution to fix the issue.

b. You can try out various positions for deep latching.  You must make sure she’s comfortable in the position, and you support her well during breastfeeding.

6) Baby acts hungry but won’t latch on

It’s definitely a problem if your baby is hungry and won’t latch on. Hunger should be the driving force that’ll push your baby to latch on in the first place, so why won’t she? It’s probably due to wind stuck in her tummy before feeding.  However, her cries will increase and become strained. Below is what you can do about it.

a. Release the wind in their tummy. You can do this by gently massaging the tummy in clockwise motion before feeding. Moreover, you can unwind after feeding too- it’ll save you a lot of stress.

7) Baby latches better on one side

Your baby latching on one side might be due to various reasons. They include an easy-to-grasp nipple, easy flow of milk, uncomfortable position, etc.; your baby can latch on a preferred breast because she’s comfortable in its position. However, that’s an issue because she’s supposed to suck freely from both breasts. Below are what you can do.

a. Give your baby the less preferred breast and see if they’ll suck it; if they do, you can switch. But if she doesn’t, you might have to visit a lactation consultant to check what’s wrong.

b. Use either a manual or electric pump to pump the less preferred breast and give it to your baby.

8) When will a baby be able to latch on their own?

  Yea, most nursing mothers, will ask this question at some point. Despite the popular opinion about breastfeeding, the act of getting your baby to latch is a bit challenging. Some parents even train their baby on latching.

a. Train your baby on latching to speed up how quickly she latches on by herself.

9) Baby’s latch getting lazy

Your baby’s latch getting lazy might be due to various factors, and a small mouth is one of them.  When your baby has a little mouth, she might not get the nipple fully, and the latch becomes lazy. However, this is a common problem among babies- since they’ve got a small mouth. If you are experiencing this problem, do the following.

a. Put your baby in a comfortable position that’ll allow her to have a deep latch. The position must be comfortable enough for her to get most of the nipple into her tiny mouth.

b. Use nursing pillows such as the boppy pillow to get a correct position for your baby while feeding.

10) Baby won’t open mouth wide

The wideness of the mouth sometimes determines how well your baby latches. But since your baby isn’t used to opening their mouth wide so that means latching might become an issue.

a. Since your baby must open her mouth wide to latch, you need to get her to open up. You can use your thumb to push in your nipple so that she’ll open her mouth wide to latch.

b. Tickle the baby’s jaw and push your nipple in when she opens wide in reflex.


Breastfeeding a child is a unique process exclusive to women only. However, it has its challenges. Your baby’s act of latching onto the nipple is a common problem faced by a lot of nursing mothers. But the problem varies from one another, hence why there are different solutions to the issues.

One of the latching problems you might face as a nursing mother is when your baby’s latch gets lazy. The solution to this problem is to find a comfortable and correct position for the baby to nurse. Besides, nursing pillows will come in handy to solve the issue. This article addressed several latching problems and solutions. Do well to implement the solution to your peculiar need.

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