Teaching Babies to Nurse

TEACHING BABIES TO NURSE is a method for management of breastfeeding difficulties that integrates the infant's body, physical capabilities, and their ability to learn with a clear understanding of the dynamics of milk production and flow.



Have you ever been faced with a breastfeeding baby who persists in doing something at the breast that causes nursing dysfunction or pain despite adjustments to position or latch? Or a baby whose capacity to nurse seems to be encumbered by a phsysical anomaly too subtle to fall into any of the standard categories of ankyloglossia, torticollis or plagiosephaly? Puzzling through the breastfeeding experiences of these babies was what started me on the path to cranio-sacral therapy.


We will together use a series of techniques that assess suck and vacuum inside the  baby's mouth while the baby is at the breast. Rather than maternal position changes, we look for those small changes in the nursing  environment that change the baby's experience at the breast.  Pain is used to dissect what is happening inside the baby's mouth, and we together will imagine why the baby might want to do what they are doing. It is that motivation that we will change, rather than working with the behavior alone, creating a more comfortable outcome for the nursing parent.



The practice of cranio-sacral therapy (CST) can be many things, but to me, part of it is the expansion of that moment that all healers have, where they perceive too quickly for their thoughts to take shape. When we train ourselves to stop, breathe, and slow those thoughts down, we may find that the information we needed was there all the time.​ This is especially important with babies, who speak with their bodies. Their communication is non-verbal, but very human. And by turning up our own empathy, we can begin to understand what is being 'said'.


The practice of CST is an art that requires training and practice. But there are many things that I have learned through the integration of CST and lactation consulting that are not CST and not classic lactation consulting, but useful as a new approach to breastfeeding mothers and babies. These techniques make up the heart of Teaching Babies to Nurse.