Baby Pushes Away When Trying to Latch? Discover Causes and Solutions Here

Breastfeeding can be one of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences for new parents. It’s natural to feel concerned if your baby pushes away when trying to latch. You’re not alone—many parents face this issue, and understanding the reasons behind it is the first step to finding a solution.

In this article, I’ll explore common reasons why babies might resist latching and offer practical tips to help you navigate this challenging phase. Whether it’s a simple adjustment or a deeper issue, knowing what to look for can make all the difference in creating a positive breastfeeding experience for both you and your little one.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify Common Causes: Understanding causes like hunger levels, physical discomfort, inconsistent milk flow, and distractions can help address why a baby might push away during latching.
  • Understand Infant Reflexes: Key reflexes like rooting, sucking, gag, and Moro reflexes play crucial roles in breastfeeding behavior and should be considered when addressing latching difficulties.
  • Create a Calm Feeding Environment: Minimize distractions and calm your baby before feeding with quiet surroundings, skin-to-skin contact, and watching hunger cues to promote a successful latch.
  • Use Effective Latching Techniques: Ensure a proper latch by aligning the baby’s nose with your nipple, using varied breastfeeding positions, and possibly shaping your breast for easier latching.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consulting with lactation professionals can provide tailored tips, identify anatomical issues like tongue-tie, and overall improve breastfeeding experiences for both mother and baby.

Understanding Why Your Baby Pushes Away When Trying to Latch

Common Reasons for Latching Difficulties

Babies often push away during breastfeeding due to several common reasons. Identifying these reasons is crucial to finding a solution.

  • Hunger Levels: Babies may push away if they aren’t hungry enough or if they are overly hungry. Monitoring feeding times helps identify the optimal feeding window.
  • Discomfort: Physical discomfort, such as a wet diaper, tight clothing, or an uncomfortable feeding position, may cause resistance. Checking and addressing these factors can improve the latching process.
  • Flow of Milk: Inconsistent milk flow can be unsettling. A slow flow might frustrate a hungry baby, while a fast flow might overwhelm them. Experimenting with different nursing positions can help regulate milk flow.
  • Distractions: Babies are naturally curious and can become easily distracted by noises, lights, or other activities. Finding a quiet, comfortable space for feeding minimizes distractions.

The Role of Infant Reflexes in Feeding

Infant reflexes play a critical role in feeding behavior. Several reflexes influence how a baby latches and feeds.

  • Rooting Reflex: Triggered by stroking the baby’s cheek, this reflex helps them turn towards the breast. Inconsistent or absent rooting reflex can hinder latching.
  • Sucking Reflex: This reflex causes a baby to suck on objects touching the roof of their mouth. If this reflex isn’t strong, the baby might struggle with latching and maintaining a proper latch.
  • Gag Reflex: Protects infants from choking and can sometimes be overly sensitive. If a baby gags easily, adjusting the feeding position can ensure better latch and comfort.
  • Moro Reflex: Also known as the startle reflex, it can cause abrupt movements in response to sudden stimuli. A strong Moro reflex might make the baby push away if startled during feeding.

Understanding these common reasons and reflexes aids in creating a more conducive breastfeeding environment.

How to Respond When Your Baby Pushes Away

Comforting Your Baby Before Feeding

Create a calm, quiet environment. Eliminate distractions by turning off the TV, dimming lights, and minimizing noise. Hold your baby close to provide a sense of security. Use skin-to-skin contact to help calm your baby, promoting a sense of comfort and readiness for feeding.

Watch for hunger cues like rooting, sucking on fingers, or smacking lips. Offer the breast before your baby gets too hungry, which could lead to frustration and pushing away. If your baby appears agitated or fussy, try soothing with gentle rocking, swaying, or soft singing before attempting to latch.

Techniques to Encourage Effective Latching

Ensure your baby’s mouth is wide open before latching. Position your baby so their nose is in line with your nipple to encourage a proper latch. Use your hand to shape your breast, making it easier for your baby to latch onto.

Try different breastfeeding positions to find what’s most comfortable. Common positions include cradle hold, football hold, and side-lying. If your baby continues to push away, seek guidance from a lactation consultant, who can provide personalized tips and techniques for your situation.

Offer a few drops of breast milk on your nipple to entice your baby. Sometimes, the taste and smell can stimulate their interest in latching. If your baby is still hesitant, take a break and try again later when both you and your baby are calmer.

Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

Assessing Your Latching Technique

Reviewing your latching technique is essential for successful breastfeeding. Ensuring that a baby has a wide mouth opening helps achieve a deeper latch, reducing discomfort and improving milk transfer. The baby’s lips should flange outward, not inward. Aim for the baby’s chin to touch the breast while the nose remains free, ensuring proper breathing.

Key Points:

  • Wide Mouth Opening: A wide mouth encompasses more areola, not just the nipple.
  • Lip Position: Lips should flare outward to create a better seal.
  • Chin Position: The chin should touch the breast, and the nose should be free to ensure unobstructed breathing.

Consulting With a Lactation Professional

Seeking help from a lactation professional can provide tailored guidance and support. A lactation consultant can observe a feeding session, offer tips, and recommend adjustments to ensure a better latch. They can also identify if there are any anatomical challenges, such as tongue-tie, that affect latching.

  • Personalized Support: Get advice specific to your situation.
  • Feeding Observations: Receive feedback on latch and positioning.
  • Identify Challenges: Spot and address issues like tongue-tie or other complications.

Assessing your latching technique and consulting with professionals can significantly improve breastfeeding success and resolve issues where the baby pushes away.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Breastfeeding

Forcing the Latch

One common mistake is forcing the latch. Babies might resist if they feel pressured. It’s important to remain calm and patient. Rushing or applying force can lead to nipple pain and poor breastfeeding experiences. Routers suggest that waiting for the baby’s natural readiness improves latch quality and comfort. Ensuring a relaxed environment can facilitate a more successful latch.

Ignoring Potential Medical Issues

Ignoring potential medical issues can hinder successful breastfeeding. Conditions like tongue-tie or lip-tie often require professional assessment. Consulting a lactation professional or pediatrician addresses these issues early. Identifying and treating conditions like these can make breastfeeding more pleasant for both the mother and the baby. Proactive medical intervention ensures that underlying problems don’t disrupt the breastfeeding process.


Navigating breastfeeding challenges can be tough but understanding why your baby might push away when trying to latch is key. By paying attention to hunger cues and ensuring comfort, you can create a more positive experience. Remember, the right technique matters. A wide mouth opening and proper positioning can make a big difference.

Don’t hesitate to seek help from a lactation professional if you’re struggling. They can offer invaluable guidance. Avoid common pitfalls like forcing the latch or overlooking medical issues. Early consultation with professionals can significantly enhance your breastfeeding journey.

When a baby pushes away while trying to latch, it can be due to various reasons, including discomfort, distraction, or difficulty with the feeding position. Identifying and addressing these issues can improve breastfeeding success, much like the troubleshooting tips provided by La Leche League International. Consulting with a lactation consultant can also offer personalized solutions to help both mother and baby, similar to the support offered by KellyMom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my baby resist latching during breastfeeding?

Babies may resist latching due to hunger levels, discomfort, distractions, or infant reflexes. Assessing and addressing these factors can help improve latching.

How can I achieve a proper latch for my baby?

Ensure a wide mouth opening, proper lip and chin positioning, and unobstructed breathing. Connect with a lactation professional for personalized guidance.

What common mistakes should I avoid while breastfeeding?

Avoid forcing the latch, ignoring signs of discomfort, and overlooking potential medical issues like tongue-tie and lip-tie that can impede breastfeeding.

Should I consult a lactation professional?

Yes, consulting a lactation professional early can provide valuable insights and techniques to improve the breastfeeding experience for both mother and baby.