Holding Your Baby While Breastfeeding 

Woman breastfeeding baby in laid-back position.Comfort and position are the keys to successful breastfeeding. Learn how to position your baby correctly at the breast. Choose the hold that works best for both of you. You may need to change holds as your baby grows.


Always make sure your baby is tummy-to-tummy with you.

“Laid-back” baby-led natural position

Lie back on a sofa, bed, or reclining chair so that your body is at a comfortable 45-degree angle, but not flat. This may be more comfortable than sitting up and leaning over a breastfeeding pillow.

Here are some tips:

  • Place your baby on his or her tummy on your chest. When your baby feels your body with the whole front of his or her body, it triggers his or her senses to find your nipple. Let your baby move over to the breast and latch on without your help. Your arms will make a "nest" around your baby.

  • When your baby attaches, make sure you see more areola above the upper lip than below the lower lip. This should help protect your nipples from soreness.

Other positions you can try

Woman breastfeeding baby in cradle hold.

Woman breastfeeding baby in football hold.

Woman breastfeeding baby in side-lying hold.

Cradle hold or “cross-cradle” hold

Here are some tips:

  • Sit upright. Make sure you have back support and that you are comfortable and relaxed. Raise your baby to breast height. Use a pillow under your baby’s bottom. Put your baby on his or her side on the pillow so his or her tummy is touching your tummy. Use a chair with armrests for your arms.

  • Keep your knees level with your hips. Put a stool or pillow under your feet if needed.

  • Cradle your baby. Make sure your baby’s body is well supported by your arm (cradle hold). Or use your hand to support the base of your baby's head and neck (cross-cradle hold). 

  • Make sure your baby’s body is facing and touching your body with your baby's head higher than his or her bottom. It is easier for your baby to swallow that way.

“Football” hold

You can use the football hold to breastfeed two babies at once.

Here are some tips:

  • Place a pillow at your side. Lay the baby’s bottom on the pillow so that your baby's bottom is lower than his or her head. Hold your baby's neck so that your fingers are below his or her ears. 

  • Make sure your baby's body is on his or her side so the whole front of your baby's body is touching yours.

  • Tuck your baby’s legs between your arm and body, as if you were clutching a football or purse at your side.

Side-lying hold

Here are some tips:

  • Stretch out on your side. Using pillows to support your head, neck, and back. Place your baby on his or her side facing you so that the front part of your baby's body is against your body.

  • Support your baby’s head, neck, and back with your arm.

  • Let your baby find the nipple and attach without help.

  • Switch breasts. Gather your baby close to your chest. Then roll onto your other side to feed the same way from the other breast.

  • It is always possible to fall asleep while nursing, so make sure you are in a safe place when you use this hold. Do not use a couch. Follow your healthcare provider's advice about a safe sleep environment for your baby.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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