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Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching? 21 Solutions for Happy Feeding


Feeding time with your little one should be a cherished moment of bonding and nourishment. However, when your baby keeps unlatching from the breast, it can quickly turn into a frustrating and stressful experience for both of you. If you’ve found yourself wondering, “Why does my baby keep unlatching?” – you’re not alone. Many breastfeeding mothers face this common challenge at some point in their nursing journey.

Unlatching refers to when your baby breaks the seal between their mouth and your breast, interrupting the feeding session. It can happen multiple times during a single feed, leaving you feeling drained and your baby unsatisfied. While it’s normal for babies to unlatch occasionally, frequent unlatching can be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore 21 potential reasons why your baby keeps unlatching and provide practical solutions to help you resolve this problem and establish a happy, comfortable feeding routine.

Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching? 9 Solutions for Happy Feeding. Image Credit: Canva

What Does It Mean When a Baby Unlatches?

Before we dive into the reasons behind unlatching, let’s first understand what it means when a baby unlatches during breastfeeding.

Unlatching is when your baby’s mouth breaks the seal with your nipple and areola, causing them to release the breast. This can happen for various reasons, some of which we’ll explore later in this article.

When a baby unlatches frequently, it can lead to several consequences:

  1. Frustration for both baby and mother: Repeated unlatching can be stressful and emotionally draining, especially when you’re trying your best to establish a successful breastfeeding routine.
  2. Inadequate milk intake: If your baby is constantly unlatching, they may not be able to consume enough milk to meet their nutritional needs.
  3. Nipple pain or damage: The repeated latching and unlatching can cause nipple soreness, cracking, or even bleeding, making feeding times even more challenging.

While occasional unlatching is normal, frequent or prolonged unlatching can negatively impact your breastfeeding experience. That’s why it’s essential to identify and address the underlying cause to ensure your baby is feeding effectively and you’re both comfortable during nursing sessions.

Good Latch Signs Description
Wide Open Mouth Your baby’s mouth should be wide open, with their lips flanged outward like a fish.
Tongue Forward Your baby’s tongue should be extended over their lower gum line, cupping your breast.
Chin Tucked In Your baby’s chin should be pressed into your breast, with their nose free to breathe.
Cheeks Full Your baby’s cheeks should look full and rounded, not dimpled or sucked in.
Rhythmic Sucking You should see and hear your baby swallowing regularly during active sucking.
Comfortable Latch The latch should not cause you pain or discomfort if done correctly.
Common Signs of a Good Latch

21 Reasons Why Babies Unlatch and Solutions

Now, let’s dive into the various reasons why your baby might be unlatching and explore practical solutions to help you overcome these challenges.

  1. Fast Letdown or Oversupply

Some mothers experience a forceful or abundant milk flow, known as a “fast letdown” or “oversupply.” This can cause your baby to unlatch due to the overwhelming flow of milk, resulting in coughing, choking, or gulping.


  • Try leaning back or lying down while nursing, allowing gravity to control the milk flow.
  • Express a small amount of milk before latching your baby to relieve the initial pressure.
  • Use breast compression or adjust your baby’s position to control the flow.
  1. Slow or Insufficient Milk Flow

On the other hand, some babies may unlatch due to a slow or insufficient milk flow. This can happen for various reasons, such as hormonal imbalances, breast surgery, or certain medications.


  • Try breast massage or compression to encourage milk flow.
  • Ensure your baby is latched correctly and positioned properly.
  • Consider pumping before nursing to stimulate letdown and milk production.
  1. Improper Latch

One of the most common reasons for unlatching is an improper latch. When your baby isn’t positioned correctly or doesn’t have a deep enough latch, they may struggle to maintain suction and unlatch frequently.


  • Learn how to achieve a proper latch by consulting a lactation consultant or seeking guidance from experienced breastfeeding mothers.
  • Adjust your baby’s position, ensuring their mouth is wide open and their chin is tucked into your breast.
  • Support your breast with your hand, gently guiding your nipple into your baby’s mouth.
  1. Gas, Colic, or Digestive Discomfort

Babies experiencing gas, colic, or digestive discomfort may unlatch frequently due to the associated pain or discomfort.


  • Burp your baby frequently during and after feedings to release trapped gas.
  • Try different feeding positions that may relieve pressure on your baby’s stomach.
  • Gently massage your baby’s tummy in a clockwise motion to aid digestion.
  • Consult your pediatrician about safe remedies for colic or digestive issues.


  1. Distractions or Overstimulation

Babies can be easily distracted by external stimuli, such as noise, movements, or bright lights, causing them to unlatch frequently during feedings.


  • Create a calm, quiet environment for nursing, minimizing distractions as much as possible.
  • Use a nursing cover or feed in a dimly lit room to reduce visual stimulation.
  • Try to feed your baby when they’re calm and not overly tired or hungry.
Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching 3
Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching? 9 Solutions for Happy Feeding. Image Credit: Canva
  1. Teething or Oral Discomfort

As babies start teething, the discomfort in their gums or mouth can make latching and sucking painful, leading to frequent unlatching.


  • Offer a cold, soft teething ring or a chilled washcloth before nursing to soothe your baby’s gums.
  • Consult your pediatrician about safe pain relief options, such as infant acetaminophen or numbing gels (with caution).
  • Be patient and offer frequent breaks during feedings to comfort your baby.
  1. Nipple Confusion or Preference

If your baby has been introduced to bottles or pacifiers, they may develop a preference for the artificial nipple, causing them to unlatch frequently from the breast.


  • Try to exclusively breastfeed for the first few weeks to establish a strong nursing routine.
  • If you need to supplement with a bottle, use a slow-flow nipple and avoid switching back and forth between breast and bottle during the same feeding.
  • Consult a lactation consultant for techniques to help your baby transition between breast and bottle seamlessly.
Signs of Readiness Description
Around 4-6 Weeks Old Most babies can start taking a bottle around this age if needed.
Established Breastfeeding Your baby has had several weeks of consistent and successful breastfeeding.
Weight Gain Your baby is gaining weight appropriately and breastfeeding is going well.
Accepting Pacifier Your baby can take a pacifier without issue, indicating they can adapt to different nipple shapes.
Caregiver Feeding You will be away from your baby for extended periods, and a caregiver needs to feed them.
Signs Your Baby May Be Ready to Transition to a Bottle
  1. Tiredness or Sleepiness

Newborns sleep a lot, and sometimes they may unlatch simply because they’re tired or fall asleep during feedings.


  • Keep your baby awake and engaged during feedings by gently undressing them, talking or singing to them, or massaging their back or feet.
  • Try feeding your baby when they’re fully awake and alert, rather than waiting until they’re already drowsy.
  • Take breaks and burp your baby frequently to help keep them awake and focused.
  1. Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie

Some babies may have a condition called tongue-tie or lip-tie, where the frenulum (the thin membrane under the tongue or upper lip) is too tight, restricting their ability to latch properly.


  • Consult a pediatrician or lactation consultant to assess if your baby has a tongue-tie or lip-tie.
  • If diagnosed, a simple procedure called a frenectomy can be performed to release the tight frenulum and improve latching.
  • Work with a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist to ensure proper latch and feeding techniques after the procedure.
  1. Growth Spurts or Cluster Feeding

During growth spurts or cluster feeding periods, your baby may feed more frequently and unlatch often due to increased hunger or a desire to stimulate your milk production.


  • Recognize the signs of a growth spurt or cluster feeding and be patient and responsive to your baby’s increased feeding needs.
  • Offer the breast frequently, switching breasts as needed during each feeding session.
  • Stay hydrated and well-nourished to support your increased milk production during these phases.
  1. Stuffy Nose or Illnesses

A stuffy nose or illness can make it difficult for your baby to breathe and latch properly, leading to frequent unlatching.


  • Use a nasal saline spray or suction bulb to clear your baby’s nasal passages before feedings.
  • Try different feeding positions that may help with breathing and latching (e.g., side-lying position).
  • If your baby is severely congested or ill, seek medical attention and consult your pediatrician about safe remedies or alternative feeding methods until they recover.
  1. Silent Reflux

Some babies may experience silent reflux, where stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus without visible spit-up or vomiting. This can cause discomfort and lead to unlatching.


  • Try keeping your baby in an upright position during and after feedings to prevent reflux.
  • Burp your baby frequently to release any trapped air.
  • Consult your pediatrician, as they may recommend medication or dietary changes to manage reflux symptoms.
  1. Nipple Pain or Sensitivity

If you’re experiencing nipple pain or sensitivity, your baby may unlatch due to the discomfort or altered taste of your milk.


  • Ensure your baby is latching correctly and adjust their position as needed.
  • Use nipple creams or ointments to soothe and protect your nipples between feedings.
  • Consult a lactation consultant to rule out underlying issues like thrush or mastitis.
  1. Menstruation or Pregnancy

Hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy can alter the taste or supply of your breast milk, potentially causing your baby to unlatch.


  • Be patient and consistent with nursing, as your baby may need time to adjust to the changes in your milk.
  • Stay well-hydrated and nourished to support your milk production.
  • Consult a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your milk supply or quality.
  1. Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection that can affect your nipples and your baby’s mouth, causing discomfort and making it difficult for your baby to latch and feed effectively.


  • Seek treatment from your healthcare provider for both you and your baby, as thrush can be passed back and forth during breastfeeding.
  • Use prescribed antifungal medications or natural remedies (e.g., probiotics, gentian violet) as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Sterilize any breastfeeding equipment or toys that may have come into contact with thrush spores.
Signs of Thrush Description
White Patches in Mouth Your baby may have white patches or a white coating on their tongue, inner cheeks, or gums.
Cracked or Bleeding Nipples Thrush can cause painful, cracked, or bleeding nipples for breastfeeding mothers.
Bright Red Rash Your baby may develop a bright red rash in their diaper area or other skin folds.
Refusal to Feed Your baby may resist feeding or unlatch frequently due to mouth discomfort.
Fussy or Irritable Thrush can cause your baby to be fussier or more irritable than usual.
  1. Baby’s Hunger Level

Sometimes, your baby may unlatch simply because they’re hungry and impatient for the milk to flow. This can be especially common during growth spurts or if your baby is going through a “cluster feeding” phase.


  • Try to feed your baby on demand, responding promptly to their hunger cues.
  • Offer both breasts during each feeding session, allowing your baby to nurse until they’re fully satisfied.
  • Ensure your baby is latching properly and positioned correctly to facilitate efficient milk transfer.
  1. Developmental Milestones

As your baby reaches certain developmental milestones, such as increased alertness, mobility, or curiosity, they may become easily distracted during feedings, leading to unlatching.


  • Create a calm, low-stimulation environment for nursing sessions to minimize distractions.
  • Offer interesting toys or objects for your baby to focus on while nursing (e.g., a breastfeeding necklace or nursing bracelet).
  • Be patient and consistent with your nursing routine, as your baby adapts to these new developmental stages.
  1. Food Sensitivities or Allergies

In some cases, your baby may unlatch due to a sensitivity or allergy to certain foods in your diet that can alter the taste or smell of your breast milk.


  • Keep a food diary and note any potential triggers that may coincide with your baby’s unlatching episodes.
  • Eliminate suspected food culprits from your diet for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference in your baby’s feeding behavior.
  • Consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for guidance on managing food sensitivities or allergies while breastfeeding.
  1. Uncomfortable Position

An uncomfortable feeding position for you or your baby can make it challenging to maintain a proper latch and lead to frequent unlatching.


  • Experiment with different nursing positions (e.g., cradle hold, football hold, side-lying) to find the most comfortable and effective one for you and your baby.
  • Use pillows or nursing cushions to support your baby and minimize strain on your back, arms, or neck.
  • Ensure your baby’s body is aligned and supported during feedings to promote a comfortable and efficient latch.
Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching 5
Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching? 9 Solutions for Happy Feeding. Image Credit: Canva
  1. Comfort Nursing

Some babies may use the breast for comfort or pacification rather than solely for nutrition, leading to frequent unlatching and re-latching.


  • Offer alternatives for comfort, such as a pacifier or a cuddly toy, if your baby seems to be nursing for reasons other than hunger.
  • Try to distinguish between your baby’s hunger cues and comfort-seeking behaviors to determine if they need to be fed or soothed.
  • Ensure your baby is getting adequate nutrition by monitoring their weight gain and wet/dirty diaper counts.
  1. Baby’s Preference for One Side

It’s not uncommon for babies to develop a preference for one breast over the other, leading to frequent unlatching on the non-preferred side.


  • Try to alternate breasts during each feeding session to encourage equal milk removal and production.
  • Offer the non-preferred breast first when your baby is most hungry and motivated to latch.
  • Be patient and consistent, as your baby’s preference may change over time or resolve as they become more experienced with nursing.

Remember, every baby and breastfeeding journey is unique, and it may take some trial and error to find the solutions that work best for you and your little one. If you’re struggling with frequent unlatching or have concerns about your baby’s feeding habits, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider for personalized guidance and support.

Feeding Position Description
Cradle Hold Your baby’s body is cradled across your lap, with their head near your elbow and feet pointing behind you.
Cross-Cradle Hold Similar to the cradle hold, but your baby’s body is crossed over yours, with their head near your opposite elbow.
Football Hold Your baby’s body is tucked under your arm, with their legs pointing behind you and their head supported by your hand.
Side-Lying Position You and your baby lie facing each other, with your baby’s body aligned with yours and their head supported by a pillow.
Laid-Back Position You recline in a semi-upright position, allowing your
Feeding Positions to Try for Better Latching

When to Seek Professional Help

While unlatching is a common challenge during breastfeeding, persistent or severe issues may require professional assistance. Here are some signs that it’s time to seek help from a lactation consultant, pediatrician, or other healthcare professionals:

  • Your baby is losing weight or not gaining weight appropriately.
  • You’re experiencing severe nipple pain, cracking, or bleeding that doesn’t improve with proper latch techniques.
  • Your baby has difficulty latching or maintaining a latch, even after trying various positions and techniques.
  • You suspect your baby has a tongue-tie, lip-tie, or other anatomical issue that may be affecting their ability to latch and feed effectively.
  • You’re experiencing low milk supply or your baby seems unsatisfied after feedings.
  • You or your baby has signs of thrush or other infections that require medical treatment.
  • You’re experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns that may be impacting your breastfeeding experience.

Remember, seeking professional support is not a sign of failure – it’s a proactive step towards ensuring your baby’s health and your own well-being during this incredible journey of breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding can be a beautiful and rewarding experience, but it’s also perfectly normal to face challenges along the way, like your baby frequently unlatching. By understanding the potential reasons behind this common issue and implementing the appropriate solutions, you can overcome these obstacles and establish a comfortable and fulfilling nursing routine.

Remember, every mother and baby is different, and it may take some patience, persistence, and trial and error to find what works best for you. Embrace the journey, and don’t hesitate to seek support from lactation consultants, healthcare professionals, or experienced breastfeeding mothers when you need it.

With the right guidance and a positive mindset, you can navigate the ups and downs of breastfeeding and create cherished moments of bonding and nourishment with your little one. Stay strong, trust your instincts, and know that every unlatch is an opportunity to learn and grow together.

FAQ – Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching

How can I tell if my baby has a proper latch?

Can teething cause my baby to unlatch frequently?

Is it normal for my baby to prefer one breast over the other?

Can my diet affect my baby’s willingness to latch?

When should I seek professional help for unlatching issues?

Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching
Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching? 9 Solutions for Happy Feeding. Image Credit: Canva


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