Is it Okay to Give a Breastfed Baby a Pacifier?
“I am wondering your opinion about using a soother. My baby is 3 weeks old and has a fussy time in the evening. My mom tried a soother. He resisted it at first but soon took it and fell asleep.
It saved us trying to rock and soothe him for hours like we had been. Is it ok to use a soother at this age?!? He is healthy and has been growing well.”
Sounds like you have had some challenging evenings!
I am glad your baby is growing well. We always want to rule out hunger as the cause of fussiness.
Opinions on soothers vary. Please remember that you are the best judge about what works best for your baby!
Some people do not like soothers due to potential “nipple confusion”. In my years as a Lactation Consultant, I have only seen one case where I thought the soother was to blame for the baby’s inability to latch to the breast.
Two things I consider to be more important are:
- The development of your long-term milk supply
- Ensuring that you aren’t putting off feeds with a soother
We generally encourage all mothers to meet their baby’s sucking needs at the breast. This seems to be associated with a great milk supply down the road. Studies have shown that pacifier use is linked to earlier weaning (…but we can’t be sure if those who used pacifiers were struggling more than the non-pacifier group and would have weaned earlier anyway.)
Some women have a great overabundance of milk. Typically, their babies gain weight very quickly, may have difficulty keeping up with milk flow, and have tons of explosive poops. (Read more about coping with this challenge here.)
Sometimes a baby may no longer be hungry but may just want to suck. If the mother has this type of oversupply, baby can become overly full. At a La Leche League conference, we heard that soothers may be useful in this instance (and they are not a group to quickly recommend pacifiers!)
You will want to be sure that baby continues to gain weight and that sucking on the soother isn’t taking the place of feeds. We have seen babies who are content to suck on the soother and do not demand to be fed and therefore do not gain weight well.
A general recommendation would be to hold off on using a soothers or bottles until your milk supply is well established — about 6 weeks.
Have you tried snuggling skin-to-skin when your baby is fussy? This often can be calming for fussy babies.
Best wishes as you puzzle through this issue with your baby. Hope you are getting some time to care for yourself as well.
About the authors:
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.