Holding Your Baby While Breastfeeding 

Comfort and position are 2 keys to successful breastfeeding. Learn how to correctly position your baby at the breast. Choose the hold that works best for both of you. You may need to change holds as the baby grows.

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

Image of baby feeding

Cradle hold

Here are some tips:

  • Sit upright, making sure you have back support and that you are comfortable and relaxed. Raise your baby to breast height. Use pillows or a chair with armrests.

  • 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 back and bottom are well supported. Also, make sure your baby’s ears, shoulders, and hips are in line.

  • Rest your baby’s head in the crook of your arm (cradle hold). Or support your baby’s head with 1 of your hands (cross-cradle hold). Be sure not to push the back of your baby’s head, as this may cause him or her to push away from the breast.

Image of baby feeding

Football hold

Here are some tips:

  • Place a pillow at your side. Lay the baby on the pillow. Let the back of the baby’s head rest in the palm of your hand. Your forearm should support his or her shoulders and spine.

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

The side-lying hold may be helpful if you are recovering from a cesarean.

Side-lying hold

Here are some tips:

  • Stretch out on your side with your baby tummy-to-tummy with you. Use pillows to support your head and neck (back, too, if needed).

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

  • To switch breasts, gather your baby close to your chest. Then roll onto your other side to feed from the other breast.

  • As it is always possible to fall asleep while nursing, make sure that you are in a safe place when you use this hold. Do not use a couch, and follow your healthcare provider’s advice about a safe sleep environment for your baby.

Laid-back hold

Here are some tips:

  • Lean back on a couch or chair. Make sure your head and shoulders are well supported.

  • Lay your baby on your chest so that your baby’s whole front is touching your whole front. Your baby’s cheek should rest near your bare breast.

  • You can hold your breast or help your baby as much as you like.


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