Immediately after being born if a baby is placed on the mother’s tummy and left for some time (attended but UNASSISTED), we will see the baby slowly crawl ahead on its own, seek the breast and latch on it to take its first breastfeed. This is known as “breast crawl”. It can take anywhere between 30 min to 60 min for the baby to achieve this. So, breastfeeding is a skill known to the newborn and need not be taught. We just need to have the patience to let the mother and the baby bond naturally.
The Breast Crawl is associated with a variety of sensory, central, motor and neuro-endocrine components, all directly or indirectly helping the baby to move and facilitate her survival in the new world.
The following stimulates and help the baby to complete the crawl and latch on
SMELL – The typical smell of secretions from the mother’s nipple and areola, which the baby identifies, leads her towards the nipple.
VISION – A newborn can strikingly see the dark nipple and hyper pigmented areola immediately after birth .This is because the baby does not have well developed vision, but can make out contrasting patterns i.e. the dark nipple areola region against the light colored skin.
TASTE - Amniotic fluid on the infant's hands probably also explains part of the interest in suckling the hands and fingers. The baby uses the taste and smell of amniotic fluid on its hands to make a connection with a certain lipid substance on the nipple related to the amniotic fluid.
AUDITORY SIGNALS – When the mother continues to talk to the baby, she identifies the mother’s voice and keeps moving ahead.
MOTOR COMPONENTS – The newborn has a series of movements form the lower limbs to the upper limbs , finally involving the head, neck and the mouth.