Can breast-fed children use a pacifier?

When can I give my child a pacifier?

It is recommended to avoid pacifiers in principle during the first three months.

It would be best for breastfed babies to do the first period without a pacifier until maternal milk production is regulated (approx. two months) this way you can manage your milk supply and you don't have to worry about it.

What should I think about before giving my baby a pacifier?

To avoid problems, you should have the following in mind before giving your baby a pacifier:

  • Do not consider pacifiers for newborn babies as an alternative to feeding or use a pacifier to avoid feeding the baby for long periods of time.
  • Some studies show that babies who take a pacifier are generally more likely to wean than babies who do not. This, because as a child grows older - when your child gets enough milk - it is normal for your baby to crave that food. Infants can develop a strong habit of sucking only on the pacifier instead of on the mother's breast to feed, and as a result, they refuse breast milk at a younger age.
  • Pacifiers can cause a fungal infection in children and the mother can also be infected by it while feeding the baby.
  • According to research, ear infections in infants are caused by the use of pacifiers.
  • Children can spit or strangle themselves when the pacifier is around the neck, this should be avoided. Carefully follow all instructions provided with the pacifier and be careful. Also keep in mind that latex allergy is becoming an increasing problem - consider choosing a silicone pacifier instead of latex.
  • Prolonged use of a pacifier can lead to incorrect growth of the teeth and can also cause speech problems and change the shape of the teeth.
  • Giving a pacifier to the child is useful for mothers who are trying to have another baby. Exclusively breastfeeding in combination with other factors, is a form of birth control that is more than 98% effective during the first 6 months, and 94% effective in the second half of the year. By ensuring that all the sucking needs of the child are met by the mother, the probability of this method is increased.

When not to use a pacifier?

If you notice any of the associated problems, we advise to stop using the pacifier until the problem is solved:

  • Using a pacifier reduces your child's urge to eat (babies should eat about eight to twelve times a day).
  • The baby has problems with drinking(this may be due to nipple confusion).
  • The baby has problems to gain weight (in this case, the child should eat as often as possible).
  • Mother has problems with painful areola (a child can cause this due to nipple confusion)
  • Mother has problems with the milk supply (in this case, she should breastfeed the child, not the pacifier, at any chance of expanding the milk supply).
  • Mother or possible child has thrush, especially if it is difficult to throw it away or repeat it.
  • The baby has ear infections (repeated ear infections have been associated with the use of a pacifier).

Can pacifiers help prevent cot death?

The use of a pacifier may reduce the risk of crib death. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding says the following in their February 2012 policy statement:

Given the documentation that early use of pacifiers could be associated with less effective breastfeeding, the use of pacifiers in the neonatal period should be limited to medical purposes. These can be used to help with discomfort, as a sedative or as part of an organized program to improve oral motor functionality. As the use of a pacifier is associated with a decrease in the frequency of cot death, mothers of normal newborn infants should be told to use pacifiers during baby sleep or sleep time when breastfeeding is initiated, at about one month of age.

Pacifiers do not prevent babies from breastfeeding 

Whatever you know about nipple confusion, giving a new-born baby a pacifier doesn't make breastfeeding unthinkable. Babies are much smarter than they appear at first and can be breastfed easily even if pacifiers are used regularly. The response is different for every baby and it is always best to discuss your situation with an experienced pediatrician to ensure your child gets the very best.

Supporting research

Studies in 2016 concluded that babies using pacifiers do not have problems, even if the baby is three or four months old. The study was conducted in more than 1300 children. Some researchers even suggest that limiting pacifiers can adversely affect breast-feeding. Research in 2013 showed that the number of mothers who chose to breastfeed alone fell completely after hospitals had limited the use of pacifiers.

Conclusion

If you follow the above guidelines and carefully handle a pacifier, you do not have to worry that your child will have problems with breastfeeding. It depends on whether and when you want to comfort the child yourself or with a pacifier. At the time when a child shows a need for suction, it is for the most part best that the child is encouraged to breastfeed, especially if there is weight gain. The breast was the first pacifier and still remains the best.