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Thread: Latching problems- son won't open mouth

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Latching problems- son won't open mouth

    I have twin boys that are now 10 weeks old. Long story short- they were born at 35 weeks and the lactation consultant at hospital advised me to pump and use bottles (latching problems: inverted/flat nipples, weak suck, twins losing weight, hypoglycemia etc).

    I am still trying to BF them. One has finally been able to latch on but feeds for 45 minutes (he diddle daddles on the bottle as well). The other son doesn't open his mouth wide enough to latch- he is so used to having a bottle nipple shoved in his mouth.

    I have tried to tickle with my nipple and even open his mouth for him- nothing works.

    Any suggestions?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default Re: Latching problems- son won't open mouth

    Congratulations on your new sons, and big kudos to you for your commitment to breastfeeding. It may take a while and lot of effort, but with the right information and support, I'm confident that they will eventually learn to breastfeed.

    If they were born 10 weeks ago at 35 weeks gestation, then their adjusted age is only 5 weeks, right? Don't feel badly or worried that this is taking so long -- lots and lots of full-term babies take 6 or 8 weeks to really get the hang of breastfeeding.

    If you haven't already found this site, I recommend kellymom.com (not an LLL-approved resource, but reliable and thorough) -- there is an entire section devoted to breastfeeding premature infants:


    It's great that the one baby is latching well. As he gets stronger and more coordinated, he will become more efficient at the breast and won't nurse so long every feeding.

    For the baby who isn't yet latching, it's probably important to keep him skin-to-skin as much as possible, and keep the breast just available with no pressure or anxiety around whether or not he latches. Can you wear one or both babies in a sling through most of the day?

    You could also try a supplemental nursing system, with EBM coming through a little tube that is taped to your nipple. This will help him figure out that the breast is a food source. If you want to get rid of the bottles, it is possible to use a similar set-up taped to a finger instead of a breast, or feed EBM with a dropper or syringe or even a small flexible cup. But the critical thing, as it has been all along, is to continue feeding your baby by whatever means to get adequate calories and hydration into his tummy; the rest of his breastfeeding skills will come in time with your patient efforts.

    Congratulations on all the hurdles you have already overcome, and on your sons' successful growth and development in their first weeks.

    I encourage you to continue working with an IBCLC who understands your strong commitment to full breastfeeding, and/or a local LLL. This situation will likely require ongoing support and guidance, not the kind of quick fix that a messageboard is best at providing. Have you seen the premies board here at LLL?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Latching problems- son won't open mouth

    I used to put my finger on my baby's chin and pull it down to help her open wide. I would say "give me a BIG mouth!" at the same time to see if I could condition her to do it on command. Eventually she got it right at maybe 4-5 weeks old.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Re: Latching problems- son won't open mouth

    When you feed him bottles, it might help to try to get him to open wide for the bottle. Tickle his lips with the bottle nipple and say "open" while showing him how to open wide. Even young babies can mimic facial expressions.

    Also, echoing the suggestion of skin to skin contact. Have baby in just his diaper, and you topless with a blanket draped around both of you. Let him lie on your chest with no pressure to nurse. Believe it or not, this actually helps MANY mothers and babies! He may eventually root his way down to your breast.

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