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HomeLifestyleHealthCreating a Strong Bond Through Proper Latch and Positioning

Creating a Strong Bond Through Proper Latch and Positioning

Today’s parents want to create the best possible bond with their baby, and the latch is an important part of that process. If breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, your baby must latch on properly. This can be trickier than you think, especially regarding the latching position. Given how many websites offer advice on how to fix the poor latch, it can seem like common sense: if your baby isn’t latching well, try flipping them over or moving them around in the crib. But is this the case? Or are we just reading these tips without understanding the science behind them? Let’s examine what impact better latch positions and latching have on a child’s development and growth.

What is Latch and How Does it Develop?

Newborn babies can’t latch on their own yet. Therefore, they cannot create a proper seal between their mouth and your breast to get the milk flowing. The seal, or fusion, occurs between the lower lip and the breast tissue. The lip is the part that enters your breast tissue first, creating friction that causes your breast to feel warm and wet and your nipple to feel engorged. The baby’s mouth then covers your nipple and creates suction, drawing the milk out of your breast. Latch and positions are a baby’s way of coordinating the movements of the mouth, lips, and tongue to create a seal with your breast. When you have a good latch, your nipple feels good to your baby, and he/she feels good while feeding.

Breastfeeding Latch

A good latch is firm yet gentle. The baby’s lips should cover most of your nipple, not the entire tip. Your baby should also be able to open wide enough to create the seal. If the lips are too thin or too thick, or if the jaw is open too wide, your baby won’t be able to create the proper seal. Some babies may have trouble making the latch from the start, especially if you have inverted nipples (your nipple is facing up). In that case, the latch isn’t a problem; your baby might prefer to feed this way. If your baby is having trouble with the latch but can latch on well enough to get a few drops of milk, try flipping your baby over. This switch may help your baby see the breast differently.

Bottle-Feeding Latch

If your baby is bottle-feeding, you’ll want to ensure that he/she gets enough milk out of the bottle to maintain growth and healthy development. If your baby is getting enough milk, it’s unlikely that he/she is getting enough calories and protein in the bottle to meet his/her needs. In addition, the bottles that come with formula have wide nipples, which might be difficult for some babies to latch on to. If your baby has a difficult time latching on to a bottle’s nipple, try using a bottle with a narrower nipple. If your baby is having trouble with the latch, especially at the start of a bottle-feeding session, try flipping the nipple upside down. This change might help your baby latch on to the nipple in a different way.

Why is Latch Important?

As a breastfeeding mother, you aim to create a milk supply to feed your baby. You do this by making milk and depositing it in your baby’s mouth. The process of milk creation involves the glandular tissues in your breasts producing milk, which is transported to your milk ducts through the milk-making glands. Here, milk is collected and concentrated, ready for your baby’s mouth. If your baby can’t latch on properly, he/she won’t be able to obtain milk from you. In other words, your baby won’t get fed. Also, depending on how much your baby spends without getting any milk, he/she might not get the calories and protein he/she needs for healthy growth.

Finding the Right Positions for a Good Latch

Let’s say you’ve tried flipping your baby, moving him/her around in the crib, and even holding him/her upside down while feeding; nothing seems to help. What now? Well, you’re probably in the right place. When figuring out whether your baby is latched correctly, the best thing to do is check your nipple. Your baby should cover most of your nipple while he/she is latched on. If your baby covers less than half of your nipple, he/she is probably not latched correctly. 

The Benefits of a Strong Bond Through Latch and Positioning

There are many reasons to create a strong bond through proper latch and positions. A strong bond can lead to benefits like:

  • Less nipple milk. When your baby latches on properly, only the nipple gets the milk. This means that your baby will be less likely to suck on your breast excessively, and he/she will be able to get enough milk without pushing you away.
  • Less Sore Nipples. If your baby is latched correctly, your nipple won’t be as sore as it would be if he/she wasn’t latching properly.
  • Decreased Lactation Issues. A strong bond can decrease the chances of your baby experiencing issues like latch-on difficulties, tongue-tie, and overuse injuries to the jaw.

Summing up

The latch is how a baby opens his/her mouth to suckle from the breast. If your baby can’t create a seal, he/she won’t get enough milk. A good latch is firm and gentle. Your baby’s lips should cover most of your nipple and open wide enough to create the seal. If your baby isn’t latched correctly, he/she won’t get enough milk and might experience some growth issues. On the other hand, a strong bond through latch and positioning can lead to benefits. For example, less sore nipples, less nipple milk, and fewer issues with overuse injuries to the jaw.



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