Hi! I’m Kristin Gourley, an IBCLC here at Lactation Link and a mom of 5. I’m here today to answer some questions about pacifier use. Enjoy!
Pacifiers are so common in our culture and many moms, grandmas, and others find them to be helpful for soothing babies. So why “Is it bad if I give my baby a pacifier?” a common question asked in our community of moms and at consults?
I certainly don’t think they should be avoided at all costs, but there are some things that moms should consider before using one.
Wait to start pacifier-use
In general, it’s best to wait until breastfeeding is well-established before introducing a pacifier. This means baby is nursing well, waking to feed on his own, and gaining weight consistently, while mom is not in pain or experiencing nipple damage.
The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends considering giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime after breastfeeding is firmly established (1) as one way to help prevent SIDS. The evidence is unclear why a pacifier is protective, but it is something to consider.
Use pacifier in-between feedings, not to replace them
Another important factor to consider is ensuring that the pacifier doesn’t soothe baby too well. Most babies need to wake at least once at night for many months as well as nurse every couple of hours during the day. Babies release sleepy hormones just from sucking, whether or not their bellies get full, so pushing off a feeding by using a pacifier can cause baby to not eat often enough or get enough milk.
Breastfeeding came first
On the flip side, many moms find that their baby is not interested in a pacifier! Breastfeeding is a womb-like environment close to mom and offers warm milk and the promise of a full belly, so some babies will not take any substitute. It can be hard for mom to feel like she is being used like a pacifier, but try to remember that the breast came first. A pacifier is a replacement for the breast when baby wants to suck continuously.
If you have any concerns about your baby’s pacifier use or any concern about breastfeeding, our online breastfeeding video courses are a great resource, especially all troubleshooting included in our Hurdles and How To’s course. You can also reach out to us for an in-person or e-consult for personalized help!
We’d also love for you to be a part of our Confident Breastfeeding Course. Click the image below for more information.
Thanks for stopping by,
Kristin Gourley, BS, IBCLC
(1) The American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. (Pediatrics. Vol. 138 no. 5) Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/10/20/peds.2016-2938