Position of the Month: Cross-Cradle

how-to-do-the-cross-cradle-breastfeeding-positionThis Month’s highlighted position is the cross-cradle hold. This hold is especially helpful for the early days of breastfeeding. It also comes back to be helpful when you have a distracted nursing baby, a fussy baby, a baby that has difficulty maintaining latch or you’re having nipple soreness. Now, I have said before, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to breastfeed. And this is still true! If your baby is able to get a good deep latch and the positioning feels comfortable for you, then Go For It! That being said, many moms want a few go-to positions, especially in the early days. The cross-cradle hold is one of those go-tos!

In the hospital setting, I help moms breastfeed their newborns, sometimes only hours old (or minutes!). The cross-cradle hold allows a mom to feel like she is giving her baby more support at the breast and allows her to really shape the breast for her baby. This is especially helpful for the brand new baby as well as the early days of nursing. I also like to remind experienced moms about the cross-cradle hold as it is very hard to remember nursing in the early days (we remember nursing our 2 month old well, but often forget the tricks that work for a newborn!). For many moms, if this isn’t her first baby, she will go to the cradle hold, which can be difficult for the newborn as there is less head support and less breast control in this position. If the cradle hold is done loosely in the early days, a mom can develop sore nipples from a shallow latch. I am not saying don’t try the cradle hold with a newborn! Remember… no right or wrong way to breastfeed as long as baby is getting a deep latch and its comfortable for mom 😉 However, it can be helpful to start with the cross-cradle hold to help your baby latch-on, then move to the more comfortable, laid back cradle hold. We just want to give moms options, promote deep latching and lots of milk transfer!

Ok… so what are the tricks and tips of the cross-cradle hold? The biggest tip for this hold, is to make sure that your hand is not pushing on your baby’s head. Instead, bring hand down to your baby’s back and support your baby’s neck. This way, when you bring your baby to you to latch you don’t push your baby’s chin and head down. Babies can open wider and get a deeper latch when they are able to extend their heads. The second tip for this position is to use the other hand to grasp the breast like the underwire of a bra. This means that you should keep your fingers away from the nipple and areola (dark part of the nipple). The goal is to get all of the nipple and most of the areola into your baby’s mouth. Nursing pillows can also be helpful for this position. Any pillow can work, just make sure that it gives you the height under your baby to help her stay close, tummy to tummy with you. The Bo Peep Nursing pillow by Holy Lamb Organics, made locally (in WA, near Olympia), is a great pillow, made with organic materials, click HERE to take a peek. Now, the nurses are not sponsored by any company or product, we like to mention the products that think are good quality, work, and think moms would like to know about! Another organic nursing pillow that we like is made by Organic Caboose. This pillow has a unique shape that seems to work, click HERE to take a closer look. Look at the photos that we have of cross-cradle positioning or click HERE to watch a how-to clip of cross-cradle to get a better picture of how this position works.


Now, If you have a distracted nursing baby, try this position in a quiet space, dim the lights, and minimize extra noise (I know this can seem impossible if you have other little tots running about!). Babies often start showing signs of curiosity in their surroundings around 3 months and it only increases! Know that just because this is normal, doesn’t mean it’s not challenging or sometimes frustrating (when your baby comes on and off this breast…. Sometimes taking your nipple with her!). If your baby is distracted, try cross-cradle hold in a quiet and dim place. This hold gives your baby lots of support and helps to bring focus back to the breast. This position is also great for the fussy baby, or for the baby that has difficulty maintaining latch. If this is your baby, start by undressing her, then place her skin to skin and move her to the cross-cradle hold. All of her belly should be touching yours – this can help focus and calm your baby. In this skin to skin position you can help your baby latch while giving her lots of support and comfort. Continue to hold and shape your breast in cross-cradle if your baby has difficulty maintaining latch.


Biancuzzo, M. (1999). Breastfeeding the Newborn Clinical Strategies for Nurses. (2nd ed.). Herndon, VA: Gold Standard Publishing.

Isaacson, L. (2006). Steps to Successfully Breastfeed the Premature Infant . (2). n.p. Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from Neonatal Network: http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/0730-0832.25.2.77





Please be aware that this information provided is intended solely for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to be substituted for professional medical advice. Always see the advice of your physician or medical provider for any questions you may have regarding your or your baby’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have received from this website or blog.


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