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Pacifiers and breastfeeding — what should I be aware of?

There are many benefits to offering your baby a pacifier

The pacifier comforts, gives the baby peace of mind and makes it relax. It strengthens the child's mouth and jaw muscles, while training the coordination of the jaw, palate, tongue and lips. It is beneficial for the child's breathing, eating and speech development.

So there are many good reasons to give your baby a pacifier, but when is it appropriate to give your baby a pacifier, and how can it affect breastfeeding?

Support breastfeeding with round pacifiers

The general recommendation is to introduce infants to pacifiers only when breastfeeding is fully in place. 

However, more and more professionals are moving away from this opinion and now recommend offering your child a pacifier from the start — as long as it is the right pacifier. And this means the classic round pacifier with a nipple in natural rubber (latex) that lasts. The round pacifier is the type of pacifier that most closely resembles a breast in both shape and material.

The explanation for this is that when the baby is about to breastfeed, the tongue rolls up around the mother's nipple and forms a vacuum, which causes the milk to flow. When the baby sucks on a round pacifier, it rolls its tongue around in the same way.

Many maternity wards therefore hand out round pacifiers as early as in the delivery room, just as several pediatric chiropractors and maternity clinics recommend a baby receive a round pacifier in latex from the start to promote breastfeeding.

What is nipple confusion?

Nipple confusion typically occurs if the infant becomes accustomed to using a flat pacifier, such as an anatomical or a symmetrical pacifier, before gaining 100% control of its sucking technique during breastfeeding.

The flat pacifiers do not require the child to roll the tongue around the pacifier. On the contrary, it is more likely for the child to put pressure on the pacifier with a flat tongue and the lips squeezed. If the baby tries to transfer this technique to breastfeeding, the milk will flow poorly, the baby will have more difficulty getting enough food, and breastfeeding will be painful for the mother.

How to avoid nipple confusion

If you wait to offer the baby a pacifier until after breastfeeding is completely in place, you will of course avoid the baby trying to use the wrong technique while breastfeeding.

However, if you want your baby to benefit from a pacifier's many beneficial qualities, you can safely introduce your baby to the pacifier from an early stage — provided you choose a round pacifier that supports breastfeeding so your baby uses the same technique for both pacifiers and breastfeeding.

See our selection of round pacifiers here

Best wishes,