What to Do If Your Newborn Won't Latch

Being a newly postpartum Mommy with a days-old baby brings tons of challenges. Sleepless nights, aches and pains, navigating your new normal, and postpartum issues are just the tip of the iceberg. You may also be struggling with breastfeeding and the fact that your newborn baby just doesn’t want to latch. Wondering what you can do to improve things on your breastfeeding journey? Keep reading to learn common latching issues, what to do, and the oral development toys that can help them get the perfect, deep latch.

Common Latching Issues

If your baby has latching issues, there could be a few reasons why. Many babies who do latch sometimes aren’t able to get the correct latch to allow for proper milk flow and can be painful for Mom. Some of the most common latching issues stem from being premature, having a tongue-tie, being fussy and overtired, or having a latch that isn’t deep enough.

Preemie (Premature) Babies

Premature babies are smaller and naturally have smaller mouths. Not only could this make it more difficult for them to breastfeed, but they could tire out quicker as well. (source: South Miami OB-GYN Associates )

Pumping out the breast milk or using a nipple shield might make it easier for your preemie to feed. Make sure your preemie baby is getting enough nutrients by supplementing when you need to. Remember: Fed is best!

Newborn Tongue-Tie

Newborn Tongue-Tie

According to KidsHealth, Tongue tie — also called ankyloglossia (ang-kuh-low-GLOSS-ee-uh) — forms before a baby is born. Usually, as the baby develops, the front of the tongue and the floor of the mouth grow apart. The back of the tongue stays attached, and all of this can cause issues with breastfeeding.

Sometimes, the frenulum might be too short or too tight. It might stay near the front of the tongue and tie the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Tongue tie can range from mild (only a tiny fold of tissue holds the tip of the tongue) to severe (the entire bottom of the tongue connects to the floor of the mouth). Sometimes a thick, tight frenulum near the base of the tongue limits its motion.

Fussy, Overtired Baby

Fussy, Overtired Baby

Breastfeeding can be more difficult when your baby is crying, overstimulated, overtired, or too hungry. The best way to remedy this is to make sure you feed your baby while they are calm and before they get too hungry. Learning newborn hunger cues can help guide you before your baby gets too hungry.

Watch out for the following signs:
  • Clenched fists
  • Putting their hands to their mouth
  • Turning their head toward your breast or bottle
  • Smacking their lips

These are all signs that your baby is hungry before they start to cry.

Latch Isn’t Deep Enough

When your baby does latch but they aren’t opening up wide enough, this is called a shallow latch. In a shallow latch, Mom’s nipple will be too far forward and rub on the baby’s pallate. This will cause pain, and possibly damage or injury, while feeding.

There can be many reasons for shallow latch, including:
  • Your baby is still learning! Practice makes perfect, so keep trying.
  • Your baby may have a tongue tie.
  • Your baby is too tired when being fed.

Solutions to Help

Luckily, there are many solutions to breastfeeding’s most common problems. With a little time, patience, and practice, you can get your breastfeeding journey back on track. If you’re not ready to throw in the towel yet, try these common solutions to help, including letting your baby take the lead, doing more skin to skin, and practicing latching exercises.

Let Your Baby Take The Lead


One of the most difficult parts of breastfeeding a brand new baby is that we need to let the baby take the lead so that they feed comfortable, safe, and happy to feed. Make sure you are calm and not forcing a feed. If your baby has a negative experience, it may turn them off to breastfeeding completely.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Don’t skimp on skin-to-skin time with your baby!

Benefits of skin-to-skin contact include:
  • Calms and relaxes both mother and baby
  • Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb
  • Stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding
  • Regulates temperature
  • Enables colonisation of the baby’s skin with the mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
  • Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering

Practice Latching Exercises

If your baby has a tongue tie, shallow latch, or otherwise has an issue with their latch, it would help to try practicing latching exercises. Innobaby has an entire line of oral development teethers that help babies encourage proper tongue resting posture, nursing skills, and much more. The great news is that there isn’t a long list of exercises to follow… all you need to do is slowly offer your baby more and more of their teether.

Teethin SMART EZ Grip Fruit Teether

Innobaby’s Teethin SMART EZ Grip Fruit Teethers aren’t just great for teething pain, they’re considered “training teethers,” which means they’re great for many reasons. They stimulate the muscles of the lips, tongue, and cheeks to improve oral motor skills, which aids in nursing, eating solid foods, drinking from cups, and speech development. The light and easy to grip handle also improves hand-eye coordination.

Teethin SMART EZ Grip Fruit Teether - innobaby

Innobaby holds its teethers to the very highest standards (Conforms to Toy Safety Standard ASTM F963 and EN71) and uses the highest quality TPE available, because Innobaby wants the best for your baby, just like you!

For more new mom tips and high-quality family products, visit us at Innobaby.com!

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