baby breast crawl

Baby breast crawl. Breast crawl help in expulsion of placenta and reduce uterine bleeding. Stepping reflex helps the newborn to push against her mother’s abdomen to propel her toward the breast.

And babies even need three hours of skin to skin contact with mom after birth to keep their body temperature normal, nurse in comfort and recognize your voice. And all this before you consider the benefits of breast crawl. The stepping reflex helps the newborn to push against her mother’s abdomen, or on her legs, and propel herself toward the breast. Pressure from the infant’s feet on the abdomen can help expel the placenta. The baby may be seen pushing his or her feet against his or her mother’s abdomen for a few minutes at a time,  which helps to decrease uterine bleeding, however this is not always observed. Babies need more time with mom than in a traditional hospital setting can allow. Babies lose weight quickly in hospitals and since they are premature, they need more calories than they might otherwise require.

The baby breast crawl is the first motor behavior of newborn baby.It help in expulsion of placenta and reduce uterine bleeding and reduce pressure on mother womb.Newborn baby has Stepping reflex helps newborn to push against her mother&

A baby breast crawl is a reflexive motion made by the baby soon after birth. This occursthe newborn push against her mother’s abdomen to propel her toward the breast and thus help in expulsion of placenta and reduce uterine bleeding

Many experts agree that gentle breast crawl is the best way to encourage early independence in infants. With this birthing baby accessory, you can gently mimic the natural steps of a baby’s first breast crawl.

This article looks at how babies breast crawl and its purpose.

It may seem hard to believe, but many newborns, when placed on their mother’s chest after birth, make their way to the breast and latch on without any assistance whatsoever. This instinct-driven effort is referred to as the “breast crawl.” 

What is the breast crawl?

The breast crawl describes what occurs when a newborn baby is placed on their birth parent’s chest or belly immediately after birth and given time to find the parent’s nipple and begin to feed on their own.

This phenomenon was first describedTrusted Source in 1987 in Sweden at the Karolinska Institute.

As long as your baby arrives healthy and vigorous, it’s safe for them to go directly to the birth parent’s chest and stay there for the first few hours after birth. Early assessments and procedures can be done with the baby on the parent, or they can be delayed.

Although it’s safe and there’s copious evidence on the benefits of immediate and prolonged skin-to-skin care after birth, it frequently doesn’t happen in hospitalsTrusted Source.

Know that you, as a parent, can advocate for the breast crawl to happen as long as neither you nor your newborn has any medical issues that demand immediate attention.

The process involves the following:

  • The baby is born and then immediately placed on the birth parent’s belly or chest. Then baby can be dried, and if needed, stimulated while on the birth parent’s body.
  • After a period of relaxation and awakening (this stage of a baby being quietly alert is thought to be the first part of exploring their new environment), spontaneous sucking and rooting behaviors begin.
  • The baby will begin using their stepping reflex to push against the parent’s abdomen and crawl toward the breast.
  • When they reach the breast, they may grasp, lick, or massage the area.
  • After about an hour, most babies are able to find the nipple and begin sucking.
  • After a good long feed, the newborn will fall asleep on the birth parent’s chest.

Want to see what the breast crawl looks like in action? Check out a video here.

What helps the breast crawl happen?

How’s this possible? Many of your baby’s senses play a role in making the breast crawl happen!


ResearchTrusted Source has demonstrated that newborns respond to the smell of their mother and the scent of amniotic fluid. This indicates that smell is something that newborns rely upon for identification and comfort from the start.

The female breast has glands that secrete odors that attract a newborn (in addition to secreting colostrum and milk!) These attractive scents can make the breast area particularly interesting to a newborn.


Research tells us that babies prefer to look at faces after birth, and they also prefer high contrast images. This is one potential reason why babies will spend a significant amount of time gazing at their parent’s face after being born.

It’s also speculated that this is why the areola and nipple area darken during pregnancy in contrast to the rest of the breast. This darkness against a lighter background appears to be designed to catch the eye of a newborn!


After birth, your newborn will be ready for a feed — and there’s a good chance you’ll be ready for something to eat, too! Amniotic fluid exposes your little one to different flavors even before birth. Those familiar flavors will also be present in your breast milk.


Their parent’s voice is one of the most comforting sounds to a newborn baby. (Perhaps because this was a sound they heard frequently in the womb!)

Assuming the birthing parent continues to talk to the baby during the breast crawl and initial feed, babies may be drawn to and comforted by the familiar voice.

Additionally, the sound of the heartbeat is a noise a newborn has heard before, and it can be calming. The chest offers a location to continue to hear this noise as well.


Skin-to-skin touch is beneficial for numerous reasons. It helps regulate a newborn’s body temperature and blood sugar levels, results in less crying, and facilitates bonding.

One study from 2015Trusted Source even noted that the warmer temperature of the areola acts as a signal to guide newborns to begin breastfeeding. For these and many other reasons, allowing this type of touch helps promote the breastfeeding relationship.

What are the benefits of a breast crawl?

There are many potential benefits to both the birthing parent and baby.

Some benefits for baby include:

  • Warmth: StudiesTrusted Source have shown that babies who were kept skin-to-skin in the breast crawl position had better skin and body temperatures than those kept in a cot.
  • Comfort: StudiesTrusted Source have also shown that babies kept skin-to-skin in the breast crawl position cried less than those who were kept in a cot.
  • Quality of attachment: Babies who do a breast crawl are more likely to have a better latch and success with early feeding. Because early success at latching can make a big difference in the length and success of breastfeeding overall, this is a considerable benefit.

Some benefits for the birthing parent include:

  • Better release of the placenta and a reduced risk of postpartum hemorrhage: Breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact can result in a large rush of oxytocin, promoting good uterine contractions that result in the release of the placenta and closing off of blood vessels. Also, the pressure of the infant’s feet pushing off of the abdomen to reach the breast may help the uterus contract to expel the placenta.
  • Less nipple pain: Because babies tend to achieve a better latch on the nipple with a breast crawl, the breastfeeding parent may have less damage to their nipples and breasts from a poor latch.
  • Bonding: Those first few moments of staring into the eyes of your baby can help create a strong bond between parent and child. Plus, all the oxytocin surges should result in some loving feelings toward your little one.

javascript:false0 seconds of 0 secondsVolume 0%Loading ad 

What if a breast crawl isn’t possible?

There are times when a birth doesn’t allow for a breast crawl. For example, sometimes the circumstances of birth mean that the birthing parent or baby needs immediate medical care after labor.

Furthermore, other situationsTrusted Source may make a breast crawl difficult or impractical. That doesn’t mean that all those benefits are lost.

Some ways that you can still reap some of the benefits of a breast crawl are:

  • Skin-to-skin time: Many of the benefits of the breast crawl come from the baby being skin-to-skin with the parent for a prolonged period. This can (and should!) be done frequently in the first weeks even without the goal of a breast crawl. This special time promotes bonding, is calming to your newborn, and can regulate their body systems.
  • Feeding on demand: Allowing an infant to determine when to feed and trusting their natural instincts is part of what makes the breast crawl so effective and beautiful. These concepts are also at play in demand feeding, which requires a parent to be aware of their baby’s hunger cues and feed them accordingly. This attention to their baby can promote bonding, increase a baby’s trust in their parent to meet their needs, and help establish an adequate milk supply.
  • Laid-back breastfeeding: Laid-back breastfeeding (sometimes referred to as biological nurturing) allows the baby to find the breast and latch for themselves. This can be attempted anytime and not just during the immediate period after birth. It offers many of the same latching and breastfeeding benefits.

The Breast Crawl

As a parent, the new responsibilities you face can be overwhelming. Keeping such a small human fed, clothed, warm, healthy, and happy may feel like a lot!

Luckily, you’re not in this alone. Whether your partner, parents, or friends are pitching in, hopefully you have a support system to lean upon.

One person you probably never considered as a source of help is your baby! However, when it comes to that first breastfeeding session, your little one is actually capable of doing most of the work themselves. Seem crazy?

Allow us to introduce you to the magic of the breast crawl…

How does it work? 

As soon as your baby is born, place him skin-to-skin on your chest. Make sure that you are semi-reclined or laid back (a “biological nurturing” position). Allow your body to support your baby and use your hands and arms to ensure that your baby doesn’t roll off your chest. Be sure to touch your baby and stroke him gently, but know that with the breast crawl, your baby moves toward the breast on his own—powered by a newborn stepping instinct. 

Women who experience a cesarean birth (c-section) can still use a modified version of the breast crawl. Simply place your baby head first at the top of your chest in an over-the-shoulder position. Ask your partner or nurse to support your baby as he makes his way down your chest to your breast. According to one study, this modified approach may take longer so discuss concerns about a delay in your baby’s first breastfeeding with your health care provider.

In 1998, neonatologist Marshall Klaus identified a five-part sequence of events in the breast crawl: 

  • Salivating and mouthing hands 
  • Moving in the direction of the breast, through leg and arm movements 
  • Bouncing head up and down and side to side 
  • Opening mouth at nipple 
  • Latching on and suckling

A dozen years later, maternal-child researcher Kerstin Hedberg Nyqvist, RN, PhD, wrote more broadly about the breast crawl as an element of skin-to-skin care (also called “kangaroo care”) in the period immediately following childbirth. She distinguished between pre-feeding behaviors and feeding behaviors, noting that newborns exhibit: 

  • the birth cry 
  • relaxation 
  • awakening 
  • crawling breast preparation (fist kneading and head bouncing) 
  • latch and suckling

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends “direct skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery until the first feeding is accomplished.” It is also to be “encouraged throughout the postpartum period.” Importantly, the newborn reflexes that support the breast crawl persist for at least the first 30 days of the child’s life and are triggered by a prone position (face down) on the chest of the semi-reclined mother. (Keep this tool in mind for feedings throughout the first month!

Want to see a baby breast crawl? UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have created this amazing video to demonstrate how the breast crawl works and how a baby is able to initiate his first breastfeed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.