Latching a Baby in the Cross-Cradle Nursing Position

mother breastfeeding child

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The cross-cradle or crossover hold is one of the most common breastfeeding positions because it gives the most support to the baby and the mother has complete control over her infant with just one arm. 

Why It Works

The cross-cradle is an easy nursing position to learn. It's a great position when you're first starting out because it allows you to easily view your nipple and your baby's mouth. This position also works well for breastfeeding preemies, newborns, or babies who have trouble latching on to the breast

How to Do the Cross-Cradle Nursing Position

  1. Sit comfortably with the baby at the level of your breast. A nursing pillow such as the My Breast Friend or Ergo Baby Natural Curve can help provide support. Tuck your baby's tush in the crook of the opposite arm of the breast that you're nursing on. Place your forearm along the length of the baby's back. Support your baby's head with your thumb and forefinger, right behind the ears. Hold your baby so that you are tummy-to-tummy with her.
  2. Hold the breast that you're using in a U shape or a C shape. Put your thumb on the outer part of the breast and your remaining fingers on the inner side. (Make sure your fingers are back against the chest wall and not too close to the nipple.) The best analogy to make is that of a sandwich. By squeezing the "U," you make a sandwich for the baby: This makes the breast more compact and easily graspable. When adults eat a sandwich they don't stick their whole head into it; they press it together to "latch" onto it as easily as possible. This is the same concept.
  3. Line the baby up so that your nipple is opposite her nose.
  4. Tickle your child's lips with your nipple and pull back slightly until the baby has a wide-open mouth. (Do not allow the baby to glide onto the nipple. This will cause sore, painful nipples and at the same time, the baby will not be able to remove an adequate amount of milk from your breast.)
  5. When the baby opens wide, quickly push his whole body in toward you and make sure that the latch feels comfortable. The baby's upper lip may hit just above the top of the nipple. Most often, mothers will see more of the areola above the upper lip than below it. If there is a pinching feeling, you can pull down on the baby's chin, while still latched on, and attempt to "flip" the baby's bottom lip out. If not, take the baby off the breast and relatch. Remember that babies do not nipple feed, they breastfeed, and they need to latch onto the underside of the breast.
  6. When your baby is latched on correctly, he should be touching your breast from his nose to his chin. Try not to press your thumb into the breast to make an "airway" for your baby. This can force the nipple upward and rub against the roof of the baby's mouth, causing nipple abrasion. Babies can breathe absolutely fine while nursing and if they're stuffy, mucousy, or otherwise having breathing trouble, they will pull off the breast on their own. 
  7. If the latch was perfect when your baby comes off of your breast, your nipple will be round, and you will feel comfortable. If your nipple comes out angular or looking like the tip of a new tube of lipstick, and you feel pain, the latch was incorrect. If you aren't sure what you're doing wrong, a lactation consultant can help to fix the problem.
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  1. Mbada CE, Olowookere AE, Faronbi JO, et al. Knowledge, attitude and techniques of breastfeeding among Nigerian mothers from a semi-urban communityBMC Res Notes. 2013;6:552. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-552