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When Your Baby Won’t Unlatch: A Guide for New Parents

Understanding the Basics of Latching

Why is Latching So Important?

Latching is the process where your baby connects their mouth to your breast for feeding. A good latch is crucial for ensuring your baby gets enough breast milk, and it can also help prevent discomfort and nipple damage for the mother.

Reasons Your Baby Won’t Unlatch

Why Won’t My Baby Unlatch?

Babies might refuse to unlatch for a number of reasons. They may be trying to soothe themselves, they may not be done feeding, or they may have fallen asleep. Understanding your baby’s needs and cues can help manage this situation effectively.

What Does It Mean When My Baby Falls Asleep While Latched?

If your baby falls asleep while latched, it could be that they find the action of nursing soothing and comforting. This is common, especially for newborns, who often drift off while feeding.

What to Do If Your Baby Won’t Unlatch

How Do I Safely Detach My Baby?

To safely detach or unlatch your baby, insert your finger into the corner of their mouth to break the suction. Do this gently to avoid causing discomfort or startling your baby.

Should I Wake My Baby If They Fall Asleep While Latched?

As a general rule, you don’t need to wake your baby if they fall asleep while latched. However, if your baby isn’t getting enough feeds during the day, you might need to wake them up to ensure they’re feeding enough.

When to Seek Help

When Should I Be Concerned About My Baby Not Unlatching?

If your baby consistently refuses to unlatch, it’s causing you pain, or if you notice other worrying signs like poor weight gain, it’s worth seeking advice from a healthcare professional or lactation consultant.

Understanding Unlatching and Your Baby

What Happens if My Baby Doesn’t Unlatch?

If your baby doesn’t unlatch, they may simply be comfort nursing, which can extend the feeding session. While this can be tiring for parents, it’s generally not a cause for concern unless it’s causing discomfort or sleep problems.

Addressing Unlatching Issues

My Baby Won’t Unlatch While Sleeping. What Should I Do?

If your baby falls asleep while latched and you wish to move them, try to gently break the latch by inserting a clean finger into the corner of their mouth. It’s often easier to move a sleeping baby once they have unlatched.

Why Does My Baby Keep Unlatching and Screaming?

If your baby unlatches and starts crying during feeds, it could indicate discomfort. This could be due to gas, a fast milk flow, or a nursing position that’s not quite right.

How Can I Get My Baby to Unlatch Without Waking Them Up?

Again, gently break the latch with your finger. Doing this slowly and gently can help ensure your baby remains asleep.

Understanding Comfort Nursing

Is My Baby Comforting or Feeding?

If your baby nurses for a while and then starts sucking more slowly and intermittently, they’re likely comfort nursing. Some babies do this to soothe themselves to sleep.

Is Nursing to Sleep a Bad Habit?

While nursing to sleep can create sleep associations that may be challenging to change later, it’s not inherently a bad habit. Many babies find nursing very soothing, and it’s a normal part of their development.

Managing Unlatching and Sleep Challenges

What to Do When Your Newborn Will Only Sleep on You?

Try different soothing methods like swaddling, using a pacifier, or introducing a safe sleep space like a bassinet. Remember, skin-to-skin contact is comforting for babies, so it’s normal for them to sleep well on you.

How Do I Stop Comfort Feeding at Night?

Begin by establishing a consistent bedtime routine that doesn’t always involve nursing to sleep. This can help your baby learn to self-soothe without needing to nurse. and Your Baby’s Sleep

How Can Help?

If your baby won’t unlatch because they’re falling asleep, can offer some helpful guidance. This resource offers a wealth of expert advice on all aspects of baby sleep, including techniques to help your baby sleep better and longer. A good sleep routine can ensure your baby is well-rested and ready to feed when awake, reducing the chances of them falling asleep while latched.


Remember, every baby is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. While it can be challenging when your baby won’t unlatch, it’s usually just a phase in their development. Stay patient, try different techniques, and don’t hesitate to seek help if needed. Your journey with your baby is a learning process, and with each challenge comes the opportunity to understand your little one better.