Breastfeeding Basics: Step by Step Tips for New Moms

Let’s be honest. When it comes to breastfeeding, you’ll never be short of advice. From holding your baby to frequency of feeds to making the baby burp, there are plenty of questions you will have to face when feeding. This guide is designed to teach you the essentials—enough to help you become a confident breastfeeding mom, and find your own way through the process.

Make sure you and baby are both comfortable

All those tips your maternity nurse gave you have a sneaky way of disappearing when you’re faced with breastfeeding on your own. Here’s a round­up of the most popular positions:

Cradle hold
Hold your baby in the crook of your arm with their head and body turned towards you. Sometimes moms find it easier to place a pillow underneath their baby too.

Underarm hold
Sit up with your baby tucked under you arm, their feet pointing towards your back and head cradled in your hand.

Lying beside you
This position is good for moms who have had a caesarean because it means your baby can feed without putting weight on your tummy. Lie on your side with your baby alongside you and facing towards you.

A good latch is key 

Figuring out how to get a good latch can feel like getting the keys to the breastfeeding universe. Here are some tips to get you started:


  • Offer your whole breast rather than just your nipple
  • Raise your baby to your breast rather than leaning towards your baby
  • Once attached, you shouldn’t be able to see your nipple or most of the areola
  • Watch and listen for your baby’s swallows and a slight pause with every gulp
  • It might feel a little tender in the beginning, but your feeds should be pain­free

If you feel, hear or see that your baby hasn’t latched on properly, gently place your finger in the corner of their mouth and remove them from your breast when you see their mouth open. Doing this early will help prevent damage to your nipples.

Recognize your letdown reflex

Letdown reflex is where the magic happens. By suckling on your breast, your baby triggers the release of a hormone called oxytocin in your body. It’s known as the happy hormone, but here it also makes your milk glands contract and eject milk. Many women experience it as a slight pulling sensation in their breast or notice when their baby’s sucking slows.

Tailor your frequency to your baby’s needs

It’s best to let your baby feed whenever they want to establish a healthy supply of milk and stay in tune with your baby’s needs. On average, babies feed 8­12 times per day in the first few months, although some will drink more frequently or as little as 6 times per day.*

Once you’ve established a rhythm, you’ll find that the frequency and length will likely decrease. You’ve both become more skilled at feeding and your little one is able to drink more milk in a single feed. A little word of warning: don’t be too surprised if the pattern suddenly changes. In fact, expect that it will! Growth spurts, separation anxiety, teething, or simply a change in routine are all very normal reasons why your baby might be feeding more or less than normal.

Balance both sides

Sharing is caring in the world of breastfeeding. Just as feeding frequently will lead to a higher and more stable supply of milk, so too will offering both breasts. It’s also a good insurance policy should you run into trouble with one breast. The best way to switch regularly between breasts is to keep track of your feeds and alternate which breast you offer first. Let your baby drain the first breast before offering the next, and don’t worry too much if they decide they’ve had enough after just one breast. Some babies only need one breast, while others will regularly take both.

Better burping for better baby digestion

Burping allows your baby to get rid of any excess air inhaled while feeding. Some moms like to burp before offering the second breast, while others prefer to burp at the end of a feed. There are a couple of ways to go about it:

  • Hold your baby on your shoulder and gently rub their back
  • Sit your baby on your lap, slightly tilted forward. Place one hand under their chin for support, and gently rub their back with the other.

Listen to your body

It’s the million-­dollar breastfeeding question. The truth is there is no single way to breastfeed, and it’s completely normal to feel like you’re not getting the hang of it when in fact you’re doing just fine. Here are some signs you’re on the right track:


  • Your feeds are pain­free (a little tenderness is normal)
  • Your baby is alert and growing as expected
  • Your baby has regular wet diapers

Ask for help if you need it

Don’t be scared to ask for advice - even if things appear to be going well. A lactation consultant or maternity nurse can put any niggling worries to rest or help you with a specific challenge such as latching or positioning. 


Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.

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