Imprinting, latchment and displacement: a mini review of early instinctual behaviour in newborn infants influencing breastfeeding success

Acta Paediatr. 2016 Jan;105(1):24-30. doi: 10.1111/apa.13034. Epub 2015 May 25.


Instinctive behaviours have evolved favouring the mother-infant dyad based on fundamental processes of neurological development, including oral tactile imprinting and latchment. Latchment is the first stage of emotional development based on the successful achievement of biological imprinting. The mechanisms underpinning imprinting are identified and the evolutionary benefits discussed.

Conclusion: It is proposed that the oral tactile imprint to the breast is a keystone for optimal latchment and breastfeeding, promoting evolutionary success.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; Decoy; Displacement; Imprinting; Latchment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Child Development*
  • Displacement, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Imprinting, Psychological*
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn / psychology*
  • Instinct
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Object Attachment
  • Sucking Behavior