A pacifier is a great tool to help your baby relax and calm down, but it’s possible that it can interfere with breastfeeding. That’s why you need to be cautious and know the risks when using a pacifier for breastfeeding baby.
My babies love pacifiers, and I’ve breastfed all of my babies. It gives me a break and helps my babies soothe themselves while I wash dishes or play with my other kids.
However, when I had my first baby, I wasn’t too sure if it was a good idea to give her a pacifier while breastfeeding.
Would it cause latching issues?
Would she stop breastfeeding?
Not to mention, breastfed babies are notorious for being super picky about what nipples they use, so finding the right pacifier for your nursing baby is tricky!
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Does a Pacifier Affect Breastfeeding?
Whether or not a pacifier affects breastfeeding is a controversial topic, but the general consensus is that pacifier use CAN affect breastfeeding negatively.
Using a pacifier too early may interfere with breastfeeding.
However, it’s important to note that this isn’t the case for all breastfed babies.
The biggest concerns are that introducing a pacifier too early might mask important feeding cues and reduce your baby’s suckling at the breast. It could impact your long-term milk supply; the more breast stimulation you receive, the better your milk supply is.
If you’re feeling unsure about what to do, consider the pros and cons of giving a pacifier to a breastfeeding baby.
The Pros of Giving a Breastfed Baby a Binky
If you’re wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to give your baby a
Helps Your Baby Self-Soothe
Let’s be honest; we cannot hold our babies 24/7, even if they want you to do so. Using a pacifier helps your baby self-soothe and relax without you, or if your baby hates driving in the car, a pacifier stops some of the cryings.
One of the biggest benefits of using pacifiers is that it helps to reduce the risk of SIDS. Studies show that babies who use pacifiers are less likely to die from SIDS.
That’s a significant benefit of using binkies!
Babies Love Suckling
Suckling is a natural instinct for babies, but comfort nursing isn’t always possible. Busy moms cannot spend all day nursing, so a binky gives your baby a way to suckle without needing you.
The Cons of Giving a Nursing Baby a Binky
While there are advantages to giving your nursing baby a dummy, you should be aware of the multiple disadvantages as well.
Might Cause Early Weaning
Some studies suggest that babies who take pacifiers wean earlier. After they start to eat solids, their desire to suckle leads them to the breast, but if they meet that need in other places, they might wean sooner.
Increases Risk of Thrush
Another possible risk of pacifiers is that they make your baby more prone to developing oral yeast (thrush), and that can be transferred to your nipples.
Thrush on your nipples is miserable.
Could Cause Nipple Confusion
Nipple confusion is a real problem, and if your baby ends up with this and you can’t fix it, it can end your breastfeeding relationship.
When I introduced a binky to my son, I noticed after a few days that he was struggling to latch onto my nipple. He would root around, looking for it, but act like he wasn’t able to latch properly.
I quickly realized that he was having nipple confusion issues and worked to correct those. However, if you let this go, your baby might reject the breast completely.
Problems with Your Baby’s Teeth
Another controversy surrounding pacifiers is the problem that it causes with a baby’s teeth.
It is true that prolonged use can cause teeth misalignment and misshaping of the soft palate.
However, all dentists that I’ve spoken to say they’re more concerned if you use a pacifier beyond four years old, which is when the American Dental Association recommends you remove a pacifier.
Might Cause Failure to Gain Weight
If you use binkies, you have to make sure that you don’t accidentally miss feeding cues. Missing too many indicators that your baby is hungry can cause problems gaining weight.
That’s the last thing you want! You want your baby to grow and gain weight, following along the proper growth curve.
Increases Your Chances of Ovulating
Exclusively breastfeeding isn’t a perfect birth control method, but many mothers avoid their period for up to six months. However, introducing a pacifier reduces how much time your baby spends at the breast, increasing the likelihood of ovulating sooner.
When Should I Introduce a Pacifier?
It’s best to wait to introduce a pacifier to a breastfeeding baby until they are closer to four weeks old. You want to make sure you have breastfeeding down before you introduce another nipple.
Nipple confusion is a real possibility for some babies.
It’s best that you make sure your milk supply is well-established. Some moms wait until six to eight weeks to give a pacifier to make sure they go through the important six-week growth spurt.
Related: How to Get Baby to Take a Pacifier
3 Tips for Using a Pacifier with Breastfeeding
It’s less likely that pacifiers will cause problems while breastfeeding if you’re aware of these tips.
1. Never Use Pacifiers to Avoid Feedings
It might seem obvious, but a pacifier isn’t a substitute for feedings, but this is a problem.
Sometimes, when it’s coming close to feeding time, your baby will get fussy, and you’ll give them a pacifier. They suck and might fall asleep, missing a feeding time.
This can be a problem, especially for new babies, with your milk supply and your baby’s weight gain over time.
2. Time Pacifier Use
The best time to use a pacifier is in between feedings and when sleeping. If you use a pacifier too close to the next feeding, you’ll miss feeding cues.
3. Always Have Extra Pacifiers on Hand
Once your baby has a chosen type of binky, make sure you have several extra ones on hand. The last thing you want is to lose your only pacifier and have to make a late-night run to replace it.
4. Don’t Use It Always for Soothing
The purpose of a binky is to help your baby soothe when they’re upset, but the more often you bring your baby to the breast, the better your milk supply is. So, make sure you still bring your baby to your breast for soothing and comforting as well. That helps to ensure your milk supply stays steady.
When to Stop Using a Pacifier
A pacifier can be a great tool to help your baby and parents, but if you notice any of these signs of problems arising, it’s time to stop using a pacifier.
- If using a pacifier reduces your baby’s feeding frequency or duration, stop using it. A newborn should nurse 8-12 times per day.
- Sometimes, using a pacifier will lead to nursing difficulties because of nipple confusion. If you notice that your baby is struggling to latch onto your breast, it’s nipple confusion.
- Watch to make sure your baby is gaining weight appropriately!
- If you are having milk supply problems, it might be because your baby isn’t on your breast as often as possible because they use a pacifier.
8 Best Pacifier for Breastfeeding Baby
1. MAM Pacifier
My babies have loved the MAM binkies. It’s available at most stores, and the soft nipple is perfect for breastfed babies. It feels just like mom!
MAM has a curved shield to stop the plastic from covering your baby’s nose along with venting holes. I like these wide holes because they seem to allow more airflow and prevent chapping around your baby’s lips.
These are BPA-free, silicone, symmetrical nipples; that means there is no “right” side that needs to go upward in your baby’s mouth. They also have an anti-slip texture that helps the binky stay in your baby’s mouth.
One of the most popular pacifiers for breastfed babies is the First Years Gumdrop. These are used in different hospitals throughout the world, designed for babies up to three months old.
They also have larger sizes for older babies!
The Gumdrops have a shield that is shaped similar to a heart so it won’t block your baby’s nose, and it’s a one-piece design made with BPA-free, medical-grade silicone.
Parents love these parents, and they’re one of the most affordable options.
However, some moms note that their babies get their fingers stuck in the holes, so that’s something to consider.
Philips Avent sells an amazing pacifier that babies love. It’s been around for years, and many hospitals offer these to brand new babies.
Avent sells their Soothie pacifiers in different sizes, and they’re one of the cheapest binkies available. They’re great for newborns because the base is so wide that you don’t need to worry about choking.
In general, these are popular, but some parents say their babies get their fingers stuck in the holes. Also, another complaint is that they fall out of the baby’s mouth easily.
If you’re looking for an orthodontic pacifier, one of the most popular options is the NUK pacifier. They sell several sizes, but for your small baby, you’ll want their 0-6 month size.
These binkies are asymmetrical with a scooped bottom; the flatter side helps with the development of your baby’s teeth and the natural sucking motion. It also helps to reduce the pressure on your baby’s jaws.
This shape also is said to be helpful for breastfeeding babies because it reduces the risk of nipple confusion. The shield is heart-shaped to fit under your baby’s nose comfortably.
Let’s not forget that these are super affordable binkies!
I think these pacifiers are adorable; I wish my kids liked these. They’re a 2-in-1 pacifier and the nipple retracts and can be used as a teether.
Ryan & Rose made their pacifier from 100% medical-grade, BPA-free silicone; it’s a one-piece design that is incredibly soft. We also like that they’re PVC, latex, and phthalate-free, and they’re dishwasher safe.
The shape and softness of these binkies naturally mimic the feel of a mother’s breast. It’s gentle on your baby’s palette development and is less likely to cause teeth development issues. Teething babies love this texture; it feels good on their gums.
There are two downsides to consider.
Some babies don’t like how soft these are, so they might reject them. Also, they’re more expensive than other brands.
The POP pacifier is definitely a unique design. If the pacifier falls, the nipple pops back in and stays protected, so you don’t have to worry about germs getting on the nipples.
Another cool part of this design is that you can pop the nipples back into the shield to use as a protective carrying case for the binky. You can toss the pacifier into the diaper bag without any worries that it’s going to get dirty.
This pacifier is ideal for babies 0-6 months made with 100% medical-grade silicone that is free of lead, BPA, latex, and phthalates.
The gentle material is perfect for breastfed babies; it feels similar to a nipple.
Tommee Tippee nipples are a great option for babies who are breastfed; they also make bottles that many breastfed babies enjoy. These have super-soft nipples that are long and symmetrical with a material that feels just like a mother’s breast because it flexes and stretches perfectly.
If you’re worried about your baby transferring from bottle to breast to pacifier, this would be an excellent option. The shape is naturally orthodontic and BPA-free.
The shield curves away from your baby’s nose for better airflow. This also helps to prevent any irritation or chafing along your baby’s face.
Nanobebe Baby created these binkies that breastfed babies really love; they’re made with 100% silicone that feels like the softness of a mother’s breast.
These pacifiers are seamless and one-piece, created by pediatricians. The design makes it easy to keep them clean, and they’re dishwasher friendly.
The softness helps with reducing nipple confusion, so your baby should have no problem switching back and forth.
These pacifiers have an ergonomic shape that pulls the shield away from your baby’s nose. They’re BPA and phthalate-free, so you know that it’s safe.
How to Pick the Right Pacifier
Ultimately, the decision of which binky is the right one comes down to your child. I had to try several different brands to find the one my baby liked the most, but there are a few considerations that you should still think about when shopping.
Always make sure the size of the pacifier matches the age of your baby. Many brands make sizes up to two years old with a thicker silicone. Newborns need a size created for them.
Some babies prefer orthodontic nipples, but many prefer symmetrical ones that are more similar to a mother’s nipple. You want to make sure they’re super soft, just like skin.
The material of the pacifier is important and could make a difference. Most are made of either latex or silicone, but latex allergies are a real thing.
Some babies prefer one material over another. It’s worthwhile to try both to see if your baby has a preference.
Easy to Clean
It’s important to make sure the pacifiers are one-piece and dishwasher safe. Those make it even easier for you to keep the pacifiers clean.
Introducing a pacifier for a breastfeeding baby is a personal decision because it can have negative effects on your nursing relationship. However, with close attention, you’ll be able to navigate both using a pacifier and breastfeeding your baby.