Effective Sucking

Effective Sucking

What is effective sucking?

During effective sucking (nutritive
sucking), your baby’s mouth compresses the milk sinuses in your breast. This creates a
vacuum to move milk to the back of the baby’s throat to swallow. At first, your baby may
seem to suck in quick bursts to trigger milk let-down. Once let-down happens, your baby
should suck at the rate of about 1 suck a second. He or she pauses only to take a breath
with every few sucks.


Illustration of breastfeeding, latch-on

  • Listen for swallowing. You
    should hear a “huh-ah” or soft “k” sound deep in the baby’s throat as he or she
    sucks. Some babies swallow softly and others gulp loudly. You should not hear a
    clicking or smacking sound.

  • Watch your baby’s jaw. You
    should see rhythmic movement in the muscle that runs from the lower jaw to the ear
    when she or he is sucking deeply. You should also notice rhythmic movement that
    begins at the edge of the baby’s chin. This travels down her or his throat as your
    baby sucks and swallows. You should not see deep dimpling in your baby’s
    cheeks.

Let your baby direct the feedings.
Your baby will detach from your breast when satisfied. Then you can offer the other
breast if your baby still seems hungry. 

Talk with your baby’s healthcare
provider or a certified lactation consultant if your baby:

  • Often falls asleep at the breast within a few minutes of
    latch-on
  • Often breastfeeds for 35 minutes on the first breast without
    self-detaching