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Your best latch: 10 things to know to breastfeed without pain

How to make breastfeeding pain-free and everything you want it to be

Your best latch: 10 things to know to breastfeed without pain

When I was 18 years old, I started to have breastfeeding dreams.


I dreamt about nursing puppies and kittens and human babies. Anything that needed nourishment and love, I was nursing them and snuggling them in my dreams. (I know, totally crazy and kind of TMI!).

So after working with thousands of mothers as a registered nurse and lactation consultant, I thought breastfeeding my own child would be second nature— I knew the positioning, the anatomy of breasts and baby’s mouths, the holds, and all the latch techniques.

I had comfort with handling a newborn from the moment it came out of the womb.

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But when I became a mama, and my daughter Demi latched for the first time, I knew right away that we had a problem—suddenly I was the new mama who was having nipple pain. How could this be happening to me

Breastfeeding to me was everything: comfort, love, closeness, snuggles, the warmest bond in the world, so I knew I had to find out what was going on and I had to take away this pain.


Adjusting to breastfeeding your new baby can be a challenge, but it’s important to know that it shouldn’t hurt—if it does, something needs to be corrected. Here are some tips to help make breastfeeding pain-free and your breastfeeding journey everything you want it to be—

1. Get the position right

The easiest and most comfortable position for a new baby and mama is cross cradle (check out our article on positioning 101 to learn other position options). Make sure you have back, arms, and baby support by sitting on something firm but comfy, and using a breastfeeding pillow (The Brest Friend is my favorite). The baby should always have his/her entire body in one line facing in toward your chest, with their arms hugging your breast (one arm below and one above). Have the babes tush tight in your elbow crease and hold the baby’s shoulder/neck/base of the head to help guide them to the nipple. Place your other hand in a “U” shape under your breast, and prepare to latch.

2. Get the latch right

Tease your babe’s mouth with your nipple to get them to open their mouth as wide as they can. When they open wide, keep your nipple right by their nose, and snuggle your baby in to you—this will help the baby tilt their head back slightly, and the nipple will move deep into their mouth. The mouth should be wide open and their lips flared out. The baby’s chin should be pressed against the breast and just the very tip of the nose should be touching the breast. You should see their jaw moving back and forth, (not up and down), and their little ears wiggling. You should hear swallowing (the sound of swallow is a soft “kuh” sound). They will take breaks in suckling but will stay latched and they will not swallow with every suck. When the nipple comes out of the baby's mouth, it should look the same as when it went in; rounded and with no compression.

3. Break the suction

If the latch doesn’t feel quite right, before removing your baby from your breast, first try to make adjustments. If the adjustments do not fix the discomfort, break their suction by placing your finger in the corner of their mouth and sliding your finger into their mouth like a fish hook. Then, try again.

4. Take care of your nipples

After each feed, express enough of your breastmilk to cover the nipple, and let the breasts air dry for 5 minutes. Think about how much AMAZING-NESS is in your breastmilk protecting your baby, it only makes sense that breastmilk would be the best to help protect and heal your nipples! Afterwards, place a pea sized amount of nipple cream to cover the nipple; Lanolin, Earth Mama Angel Baby, or Motherlove are some popular choices. You can use cool gel pads for soothing, but you must wash the nipple after use before latching your LO.

5. Get help

Knowing and finding resources even before your baby arrives will really put you ahead. Seek out IBCLC’s in your area, La Leche League meetings near by, take a breastfeeding class, read a breastfeeding book with current and clinically supported information, and find some mama groups to join. As one of my favorite breastfeeding books, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding explains; once your LO has arrived, find and keep someone close who understands breastfeeding, knows your goals, who’s approach you respect and appreciate, someone who can support you emotionally, and help you find correct information. If the support you need requires a professional, your IBCLC is your person: get your home visit asap if you are in pain.

6. Get through engorgement the RIGHT way

When your milk comes in somewhere between day 2 and day 5 of your baby’s life, your breasts become filled with milk and they can become super uncomfortable. This is a normal process that should only last 24-48 hours max. Make sure you’re feeding on demand, ensure that you are hearing swallowing, and that he/she is gaining weight appropriately. DO NOT PUMP — this will increase your supply and make engorgement worse. 5-10 minutes before your babe is ready to nurse, get some heat on your breasts (from a shower or warm pack) to help get the milk flowing. You can even keep the heat on while you nurse. After the baby has fed and you feel some relief, put some cold packs on the breast that was fed off of for about 10 minutes. The cold feels cooling and slows down the flow. You do not need to nurse on both breasts. Have the baby stick to emptying side 1 before offering side 2. Your breasts will adjust to exactly what your baby needs, I promise.

7. Avoid use of pacifiers and bottles before 2 weeks (unless medically necessary).

To get breastfeeding off to the very best start from the first feeds, you should try not to introduce any other shapes or flows to the baby besides your breasts until at least 2 weeks postpartum. No plastic nipple is your nipple, no flow is your breasts flow, and all baby bottle nipples are much easier to get the milk out than your breasts.

8. Avoid getting thrush/candidiasis and mastitis

Keep your nipples clean and dry, and breastfeed on demand. If you experience any pain (shooting, sharp, burning, aching), redness that is hot to the touch, fever, feel like you have the flu, or if your baby has white in their mouth that doesn’t come off when scraped, call your provider right away.

9. Tongue ties, lip ties, and gape issues

When a baby has a tongue or lip tie or a gape issue, their tongue and jaw are not able to open and move correctly, causing shallow and incorrect  latches, chomping on the nipple, and a ton of pain for mamas. A lactation consultant can help you diagnose this, and an Ear Nose Throat Doctor can perform a simple procedure that can really help/fix the issue.

10. Keep your baby close, feed on demand, do lots of skin to skin

It is always better and easier to get a deep latch with a happy baby rather than a SUPER hungry kid who is screaming and thrashing at your breast. Respond to your little one’s cues and catch the early signs of them waking (first sign is movement of the eyeballs under the eyelids). Do tons of skin to skin so you and your baby will feel more relaxed and comfortable which will lead to a better latch.

My own journey to making breastfeeding pain free was longer than I had hoped, but in the end it taught me so much more about how to help mamas. I have successfully and exclusively breastfeed my daughter for 21 months, and we are still going strong. My greatest piece of advice to achieve pain free nursing is to GET THE HELP YOU NEED EARLY by advocating for yourself, and always trust yourself and your body. Good luck mamas, you’ve got this!

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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