Baby Daybook icon

Baby Daybook

6 Best Breastfeeding Positions to Try – Tips for New Moms

Article by

Knowing the best breastfeeding positions when you have a new baby can help you right from the start of your breastfeeding journey. Knowing how to hold your baby for an optimal breastfeeding position will preserve your body structure and allow you to focus on their latch, which will get them the breastfeeding nutrients they need.

Read on for a list of the 6 best breastfeeding positions for new moms to try. Different positions have different benefits and work well in different scenarios. What works well for one mom and baby might not for another. The best nursing positions are the ones that work for you!

Download now!
Worrying about when your baby last ate? How much milk they’ve had? Or which side they nursed from? Keep track of your little one’s feeding schedule with Baby Daybook. Download the app now and make your life much easier.

Achieving the best breastfeeding positions

There are a few things you can do to successfully discover the best breastfeeding positions for you. Regardless of which nursing position you try, find a comfortable seat like a rocking chair. Use good posture – with your back straight and supported, and your shoulders back (not hunched). Have your baby’s body turned toward you so they don’t have to turn their neck at all to try to eat.

When positioning your baby to get ready to latch, bring your baby to your body, rather than moving your chest toward your baby – which could result in poor posture and later back discomfort or pain. Use a pillow to help support your baby while they nurse. You could also prop pillows under your arms or behind your neck or back to sit more comfortably. Many moms use a nursing pillows that curves around your waist to help you support your baby.

Now take these good practices of comfort and posture along as you try some of the following 6 best breastfeeding positions.

Cradle Hold

The cradle hold for breastfeeding is the classic ways babies are held, and the way most people are probably familiar with. Your baby will be in your arms, and their head will be tucked into the crook of your arm nearest the breast they will eat from. It will be helpful to use your other hand to hold your breast in place for the baby, especially while you two are first getting the hang of nursing.

You might love the cradle hold once you’ve gotten the hang of feeding your baby, but the cross-cradle hold is often the ideal breastfeeding position to start out with.

Cross-cradle Hold

The cross cradle hold is the best breastfeeding position for a newborn to first get the hang of nursing with, because it allows you to hold your baby’s entire body with one arm, and hold your breast with the other hand. 

The arm opposite of the breast your baby will eat from is the one that will hold your baby. You will hold the bottom of their head with your hand, while also supporting their neck. Your forearm will support your baby’s back and they will be tucked in the crook of your arm.

You will hold them so they’re facing you, tummy to tummy. Bring their head in to your breast. With your other hand (the one closest to your breast) you will hold your breast with “C” shaped fingers below your nipple. This will help you hold your nipple out for your baby. The hand holding your baby’s head can help bring their face right to your breast.

Football Hold

In the football hold – also called rugby hold or clutch hold – you will be holding your baby on your side rather than across your abdomen. Because of this, the football hold could be the best breastfeeding position while recovering from a C-section.

In the football hold, you will be holding the baby on the same side they’re breastfeeding from. In similar fashion to the cross cradle hold, your hand will be holding the bottom of their head and your forearm will be supporting their back. You can hold your breast in a “C” shape with your opposite hand, and bring their head to your breast so they can latch.

The football hold is also a position twins can be nursed in at the same time, although it may be tricky getting them latched with one hand each at first. Perhaps a partner can help you position while getting used to nursing twins this way.

Side-lying Position

In the side-lying breastfeeding position, you’ll be lying on your side with your baby turned toward you. Breastfeeding in the side-lying position allows you to rest while your baby eats. Lying on your side, have your baby lie next to you with your tummies facing. You may need to use your bottom arm to assist them in latching at first, then can move it under your head while you rest. Hold them with your other arm to keep them in the right position.

Nursing side lying can be restful, but it’s best to avoid co-sleeping with your baby. It’s safest not to fall asleep while nursing your baby, but if there’s any risk of you dozing off while your baby is eating, remove any loose bedding from around your baby to prevent any chance of their face being covered. If you do fall asleep nursing in this position at night, move your baby to their own bassinet or crib when you wake up, before going back to sleep.

Reclining Position

In the reclining, also called the laid-back nursing position, you will position yourself in bed propped up with pillows to support your head and shoulders. You could also sit back in a recliner chair. Have your baby lie on your belly facing you, and their head on your chest (their head may need to be turned at first if they can’t hold their head up well before they latch). Their hips will be flexed and their feet resting on your body. 

Use one hand to hold your breast to assist your baby in latching, and the other hand to hold their bum to keep them in position. This is a great position to relax and cuddle.

If you’re recovering from a C-section, you could try a modified reclining position in bed, lying more flat with your baby supported on your shoulder and arm rather than on your abdomen.

Upright Nursing Position

Nursing your baby upright can be the best feeding position for a baby who suffers from reflux or gas. Having their body upright rather than lying down can prevent spit-up and help them in digestion. This is could also be an optimal breastfeeding position for moms with a very strong letdown that may cause their baby to cough and splutter when beginning a nursing session.

With your baby sitting on your lap facing you and your hand supporting their neck, have them latch to your breast while sitting upright. A baby who doesn’t yet have neck and trunk strength will need you to hold them in this position. You can hold your breast with one hand while they latch, then support their body with both hands. Be sure to always support a new baby’s neck well.

Signs of a good position and latch

Your baby will be able to latch best if they are in a good position. Signs of a good latch include:

  • Most of your nipple, including much of the areola, is in your baby’s mouth (not just the tip of the nipple)
  • Your baby’s lips are flanged out rather than tucked in
  • Your baby is sucking rhythmically and swallowing every few sucks
  • The latch is pain-free. You may feel some discomfort – especially when first breastfeeding. However, you shouldn’t feel severe pain and the breastfeeding should get more comfortable with time. If breastfeeding is painful for your nipples, you probably need to work on the baby’s latch. To de-latch and try again, slide your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break their suction.

Tracking breastfeeding sessions with Baby Daybook

You don’t have to be alone on your breastfeeding journey. If you are having difficulties with nursing, consult with your doctor or with a lactation consultant. They can help you with your baby’s positioning and latch.

Baby Daybook is also a great resource for a new parent to monitor their baby’s daily care – including breastfeeding. Use Baby Daybook to track in real time how long they eat on each breast. This can help you keep track of how well they are nursing, as well as how frequently.

Baby Daybook even has widgets to use on your smartwatch, making it easier than ever to track nursing sessions while keeping your hands on your baby and maintaining the best breastfeeding positions.

Download now!
Worrying about when your baby last ate? How much milk they’ve had? Or which side they nursed from? Keep track of your little one’s feeding schedule with Baby Daybook. Download the app now and make your life much easier.


Note: Our writers strive to maintain accuracy and quality in all content produced. However, it’s important to note that the information provided on our blog should not be considered professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. It’s highly recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions.

Article by
Kandis Lake, RN
Kandis is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, a health writer, and a mom to four kids. She is passionate about health education and writes about health to educate and empower others – especially parents and families. Kandis has years of work experience in women’s, infant, and pediatric health. She loves to read and go on adventures with her family.
Related posts