How to breastfeed a newborn

How to breastfeed a newborn

A step-by-step guide with helpful latching tips, different breastfeeding positions and getting baby to burp

In Newborn

3-minutes read

At a glance

Use all the breastfeeding support available

Get yourself comfortable and ensure your baby is latched on correctly


Feed as often, and as long, as your baby wants

Allow your baby to bring up any wind after each feed

Breast feeding is the best start you can give your baby. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon settle into the routine that works best for both of you.

For support, join your local breastfeeding support group, talk to a healthcare professional - such as your doctor, midwife or public health nurse - or talk to friends and family. And the SMA Careline® team are on hand to help too.

How to breastfeed

  1. Wash your hands before you start. And have a glass of water close by in case you become thirsty. Get comfortable by sitting down with your back straight and your lap flat. Pop a couple of cushions behind you to support your back. Use another cushion on your knees to help bring your baby closer to your breast if needed

  2. Find the right position. Lay your baby across your lap supporting their head, shoulders and body in a straight line. Position their nose opposite your nipple and allow their head to tilt back, supporting it with one hand. Use the other to hold your baby on their side

  3. Line up your baby's nose with your nipple. Their mouth should open wide, enough to cover your nipple and the lower part of the dark areola. If it doesn’t, brush your nipple across their top lip to encourage it

  4. Make sure your baby has a good breastfeeding latch. Your baby will tilt their head back and their chin will be touching your breast. They should take a large mouthful of breast and your nipple should go towards the roof of their mouth. You may need to support your breast for your baby and make sure it doesn’t obstruct their breathing

  5. Check for swallowing. When your milk begins to flow (known as the let-down reflex), you'll hear your baby swallowing and see their jaw moving. As your flow increases, you may feel some tingly sensations in your breast — this is quite normal

  6. Feed on demand. To satisfy their hunger and thirst, let your baby feed for as long and as often as they want. The more your baby drinks, the more milk your breasts produce. If your baby still wants more milk, offer the other breast. When they’ve had enough, your baby will let go of your breast or fall asleep. You can learn more about your baby’s early feeding cues, the little signs they make to tell you if they’re  hungry or full, in our series of videos HERE 

Cradle hold breastfeeding position

Different breastfeeding positions

Besides the cradle hold position described above, there are other positions you may wish to try:

  • The under arm or rugby hold position. With their head to your breast, tuck your baby’s body and legs behind you through the crook of your arm. Make sure they are lying on their back, with their nose to you nipple. Use your arm and hand to support your baby and use the other hand to move your breast to your baby’s mouth
  • Breastfeeding lying down. Lie on your side in the centre of your bed and lay your baby on their side facing you. Use your hand on their back to gently support your baby, keeping them close. Be careful not to fall asleep whilst using this position

Responsive feeding (Baby-led feeding)

In the early stages of breastfeeding your baby will be giving you tiny signs to tell you when they’re hungry or full. Understanding these feeding cues is a key part of responsive, or baby-led, feeding and will help you learn how often your baby needs to feed. We’ve made a video to show you the most common feeding cues, which you can watch HERE.

Remember to always wind your baby after a feed. To find out how, here’s our foolproof guide.

Pregnancy hormones

Next up: Pregnancy

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Important advice to mothers

World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. SMA® Nutrition fully supports this and continued breastfeeding, along with the introduction of complementary foods as advised by your healthcare professional.