BREAST CRAWL: What Is It and HOW To Do It

BREAST CRAWL: What Is It and HOW To Do It

Have you ever heard of the breast crawl? If not, you’re about to see something that is truly amazing.

We are told that breastfeeding comes naturally. Many doubt it after having had difficulties in their own experiences, and that is understandable.

Unfortunately, in the American medicalized version of birth, breastfeeding is often hindered by any number of interventions. Babies are often behind the curve for being ready and able to breastfeed from the time of birth.

However, when you see a baby born as nature intended it with few or no interventions, something magical can happen. It is called the BREAST CRAWL.  It is beautiful. I have had 3 natural births, and I was able to see this first hand with my last one soon after her birth. I couldn’t believe it.

Abigail was laying on my chest and I guess she was probably about 30 minutes old. She was on her belly against me, which is the best position for a newborn if you want to see this happen. She was all snuggled in and sucking on her fists a little when all of a sudden, she picked her head and upper body up all by herself and plopped herself down directly onto my breast. It was crazy and so, so neat! Even though I had known of the breast crawl for a long time, neither of my other two babies did it because I was too impatient to wait for it. I couldn’t believe it had actually happened and honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about it or trying to get it to happen!

My apology

I feel like I owe an apology to all the women I cared for as a nurse in labor and delivery before I knew about this. I was in there with my gloved hands doing what I thought was right to help you. Yes, I taught you some tips and tricks and hopefully you were successful. But I wish I had known all of this so I could’ve helped you see for yourself that breastfeeding is not about a perfect hold or a perfect position. It’s not about shoving a nipple into a mouth. It’s about supporting instincts and reflexes and letting the baby do what it knows how to do.

I am sorry I was not prepared to give you this experience at that time. I’m trying to make up for it now because this is SO. STINKIN’. COOL. I wish I had been able to give this gift to all you beautiful ladies. When you know better, you do better….and now I know better.

How the BREAST CRAWL works

Babies have inborn reflexes that contribute to their ability to survive through finding their own way to the breast. Their rooting reflex causes them to turn their heads and open their mouths when they are stimulated on their cheek. Their sucking reflex in the upper rear portion of their palette causes them to suck when the mother’s nipple touches them there. They also have a kicking/stepping reflex which can help them move their way up to the breast if they aren’t close enough.

Additionally, the mother’s nipples have an aroma that helps the baby know where the milk is. A woman’s areolas also darken during pregnancy so that they are easy for the baby to see even in those first moments when their vision isn’t great.

Let’s see some examples

I have chosen 4 videos from YouTube to show you what this is all about. For all but the last one, I’ve picked a point to start them all to get you a little closer to the exciting moment when the baby actually finds the nipple, but you can feel free to go back to the beginning to watch the whole process. The last one is a series of breast crawls. It is just 4 minutes, so I encourage you to watch them all

There are so many elements present to play into this beautiful symphony you are about to see. Now, for this first video, please try to get over the fact that everybody and their mama seems to be watching this take place. I know, it makes me uncomfortable, too, but try to ignore it so you can see the magic happen. Also, assume the room is nice and warm so you don’t have to worry the whole time that the baby is cold. With that out of the way, here’s the first video, published by “Mother Child”:

That was probably the first video of the breast crawl I ever saw. Pretty neat, huh? Let’s watch another one. This one is published by Jennifer Pitkin and is clearly made right after birth:

It never gets old. I just love watching them do it. Here’s one more example of the breast crawl. This one, I hope, will encourage you most if you feel like it is too late for you. This baby is clearly already at home and this is not the first time he is nursing. You can actually do the breast crawl at any time when the baby is still very young. I mentioned earlier that I didn’t do it at birth with my first two, but I was able to do it later on and it still worked. Go ahead and watch and I’ll give you some tips on how to do it afterward.  This video was published by “Raising Children Network”:

Here’s one last video that is a combination of a few breast crawl examples.  This video was published by “Entrust”:

I hope you have loved watching these. I hope it has given you renewed faith in the awesome and perfect design of breastfeeding. You don’t have to hold a baby perfectly or do anything special for a baby to figure out how to nurse. When left in its natural state, a baby WILL figure it out.


If you would like to give it a try, here are some tips:
  • Choose a time when the baby is calm but showing early signs of hunger, like smacking lips or sucking on his or her hand
  • The baby needs to be naked (except a diaper if you’d like) and directly against your skin
  • Place the baby on your belly with his or her head near your bare breasts
  • If you’re in a cold room, you can cover the baby with a blanket
  • Now wait and try to be patient


Did it work for you?

Comment below! Tell me what you did, how long it took, and what you thought about it. If it doesn’t work for you the first time, especially for a baby that is no longer “newborn”, keep trying and it might work next time.

If you’re planning on having more babies, remember this when your next one is born. When they are born, lay them on your chest. Then just let them stay there until they are ready to nurse. Enjoy these precious magical moments. Save a link to this, and come back and tell me all about it! I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

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