The football hold is a handy alternative to the cradle or cross-cradle hold.

How to Do the Football Hold for Breast Feeding

by Rachel Kolar

If you and your baby are fumbling when breastfeeding with the cradle hold, you might find that the football hold scores for you. The football hold lets you hold your baby's head while he breastfeeds, allowing you to help him latch. A mom who's recovering from a C-section doesn't need to worry about putting pressure on her incision when she uses the football hold. Also, the La Leche League recommends it for mothers whose milk flows forcefully because the baby can handle the flow more easily with this hold.

Place one pillow on the right arm of the chair and one on your lap. Or, position a curved nursing pillow so part of it lies on the right arm of the chair and part lies across your lap.

Cradle your baby in your right arm, facing upward, and rest your right forearm on the arm of the chair.

Curve the thumb and fingers of your left hand into a "C" shape. Cup your right breast with your thumb resting on top, about an inch behind the aureole, and your fingers underneath.

Snuggle your baby close against your side, positioning his mouth near your nipple. If his head is too low and you have to bend over to get your nipple near his mouth, add more pillows under your arm or on your lap until you can sit comfortably.

Bend your baby's hips so that his legs and bottom are lying against the back of the chair and his feet are pointed toward the ceiling. If you let his legs stick out straight behind you, he may try to push off with his feet and arch his back, breaking the latch.

Stroke your baby's mouth lightly with your nipple until he opens it wide. Gently pull your right arm up and back to draw him close to your breast, using your left hand to aim your nipple into the roof of his mouth.

Repeat with your left breast when your baby has finished nursing on the right side.

Items you will need

  • Chair with low, wide arms
  • Two pillows or one curved pillow


  • Once you've mastered the football hold, it's possible to do it in bed or on a chair without using your arms. Just use a larger stack of pillows or a stack of thick books so you can rest your arm at a comfortable height.
  • You may also find the football hold useful if your baby has a strong preference for one breast over the other. A baby who lies on his left side to feed from the right breast in the cradle hold can lie on his left side to feed from the left breast in the football hold, which can trick him into accepting it.


About the Author

A resident of the Baltimore area, Rachel Kolar has been writing since 2001. Her educational research was featured at the Maryland State Department of Education Professional Schools Development Conference in 2008. Kolar holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kenyon College and a Master of Arts in teaching from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images