Should A Breastfeeding Mom Use a Pacifier For Her Baby?

The early introduction of a pacifier can interfere with your baby’s ability to latch on and breastfeed.  It’s so important in early stages of breastfeeding to pay close attention to baby’s hunger cues; this is the best time to latch baby to breast, when baby is sucking his/her fingers, smacking his/her lips, and rooting( turning head  toward Mom’s breast once baby has touched Mom’s skin). If a baby is sucking on a pacifier, Mom may easily miss those hunger cues. The baby may become sleepy from prolonged sucking and may not latch to breast.  If a baby has missed a feeding at breast,  it can negatively affect Mom’s milk supply.  

Studies show that pacifier use is more common among infants who are incorrectly latched. It is also associated with early breastfeeding termination.

Pacifiers are not shaped the same as a Mom’s nipple, making it harder for her baby to latch to Mom’s breast once it’s introduced.

During breastfeeding, different muscles of the mouth and face are used when a baby latches, sucks, and swallows, as opposed to when a baby sucks on a pacifier. If a breastfeeding Mom offers her baby a pacifier, this may seem confusing to her baby, and may lead to what is commonly referred to as,”nipple confusion”.  Her baby may not be sure which way to suck  and becomes frustrated; therefore, not latching well to her breast.   

Babies who do not use a pacifier find ways to soothe themselves by sucking on their hands  and fingers, and sleep better at night due to self-taught self-soothing.

It’s still a Mom’s choice if she decides to introduce a pacifier. The AAP(American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends waiting until a baby has breastfeeding well-established and Mom’s milk supply is abundant, typically occurring at her  baby’s 3-4 weeks of age.

It is recommended to avoid pacifiers that are not one continuous piece, Two piece pacifiers can become a choking hazard if they separate. Many brands of pacifier specify the size of the pacifier,  for the age of the baby. Always use the proper size for the baby and replace when they become discolored, broken, or damaged.   

Premature infants may benefit from the use of a pacifier for non-nutritive sucking. Premature babies who use a pacifier may gain more weight and leave the hospital NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) sooner.

The use of pacifiers in breastfed babies is controversial, and there are  varied opinions  both in favor of and against their use, but it’s ultimately a Mom’s personal choice.


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