The Best Pacifier for a Breastfed Baby
If you’re anything like me, you want to find the best pacifier for your breastfed baby.
The number of pacifiers on the market is exhausting. And then some people advise not to give pacifiers at all (I’m not one of those people… I love pacifiers!)
This guide will help answer all your questions about pacifiers and breastfeeding and give you my list of the best pacifiers for your breastfeeding baby.
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Pacifiers and Breastfeeding
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, there are certain guidelines to follow when it comes to pacifiers. Bottle-feeding parents don’t have to worry about things like nipple confusion or a pacifier affecting breastfeeding. But sometimes introducing a pacifier can change breastfeeding.
That being said, introducing a pacifier can help parents and babies tremendously. So let’s go ahead and talk about the pros and cons of pacifiers when breastfeeding:
Pacifier Pros and Cons
- Fulfills the suck need that babies have (even when they aren’t hungry).
- Helps soothe a fussy or colicky baby.
- Gives a baby and parents more sleep at night.
- Helps premature babies learn how to suck.
- Satisfies babies in the NICU who are tube-fed.
- Can help a mom’s mental health – using a pacifier instead of constant nursing for comfort.
- They’ve been around throughout history as a known baby soother.
- It’s easier to take away a pacifier than a baby thumb.
- Lowers the chance of SIDS.
- Latex pacifiers can cause an allergic reaction.
- Can lead to and spread thrush.
- Can cause low milk supply if given in place of a feeding.
- Prolonged use affects proper mouth and airway development.
- Babies are more susceptible to ear infections.
- Release of cholecystokinin (the “feeling full” hormone) can make a baby feel full when they’re not.
- Rick of nipple confusion causing breast aversion or nipple pain.
When To Introduce a Pacifier
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting 3-4 weeks before introducing a pacifier to a breastfed baby. In the first month of a baby’s life, generally, if they want to suck it’s because they’re hungry.
Their stomachs are extremely small so the first weeks of a newborn’s life they will eat frequently.
Some babies will even sleep through feedings and not eat enough. Weight gain is very important in the first weeks, so if your baby is showing hunger cues, they should be breastfed.
Some babies that are given a pacifier too early may have issues gaining weight.
Additionally, pacifiers can affect a breastfeeding mom’s milk supply. The first 4 weeks are essential for developing and maintaining adequate milk supply for the remainder of the breastfeeding journey. Only once milk supply is established and the baby is gaining weight well should a pacifier be introduced.
If your baby ever acts like they are hungry or wants to suck, they should ALWAYS be offered the breast first.
Before Introducing a Pacifier
Before introducing a pacifier, make sure that your baby isn’t hungry.
Offer the breast, and if your baby starts breastfeeding then they were hungry.
Sometimes, though, a baby will exhibit what appears to be hunger cues but they arent’s hungry. During those times, the baby wants to suck for comfort.
They will open their mouth, wiggle their tongue, and may suck on their hands. Offer to breastfeed them, but if they just mouth at your breast, lick, and don’t stay latched on a pacifier could help.
Often if a baby is just wanting comfort, they’ll pull off your breast when your milk starts to flow. If your baby was fed within the last 2 hours and they’re exhibiting those signs then it might be time to introduce a pacifier.
When To Stop Pacifier Use
There are times when you should stop using a pacifier. Stop pacifier use if:
- Your baby has difficulty gaining weight.
- Your baby isn’t nursing or latching well.
- Your baby has recurring ear infections or thrush.
- You have a low milk supply.
- You have sore nipples (which could be caused by nipple confusion).
In these cases, it’s best to discontinue using a pacifier. It might be only temporary, and you’ll be able to start using a pacifier again when the issue is resolved.
Offering the breast in each of these cases is the best alternative to a pacifier. Breastfeeding when your baby wants to suck will give them more calories, increase your milk supply, aid with latch issues, and decrease the risk for infections.
Once things are on the right track, you will be able to give one again.
Should I remove the pacifier when my baby is sleeping?
No. There really isn’t a reason to remove the pacifier when your baby is sleeping.
Actually, it’s better for your baby if you leave it in!
Studies show that pacifier use can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so I’m a huge advocate of using pacifiers when the baby sleeps. They’re great for comfort and they are a protective safety measure.
The 5 Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies
Best Pacifier for Breastfed Babies Criteria
When trying to find the best pacifier for breastfed babies, here are the things we looked at:
- Baby’s age and size options for pacifiers.
- Pacifier nipple shape (orthodontic vs. natural).
- Price of the pacifier.
- Features (including weight, ease of cleaning, and more)
Babies grow exponentially in the first year of their life. Because of their fast growth, it’s important to have a pacifier that will grow with them. Some brands of pacifiers have sizing options for different stages of your baby’s life. This was an important criterion because of the big changes in your baby’s mouth over time.
The shape of the nipple was an important consideration. Some pacifiers are made to support your baby’s oral development, called orthodontic pacifiers. The softness of the pacifier nipple will also affect the shape it takes within your baby’s mouth.
Price was an important criterion, especially because pacifiers have a tendency to get lost! You need a good stock of pacifiers to keep around – in your diaper bag, in the crib, in your purse, in the car and anywhere you might need it! They need to be affordable to have the right size stash.
Features were the final criterion we looked at. Some pacifiers have a stuffed animal included, others have a large handle for your baby to grab. Some are easier to clean than others. No two pacifiers are the same, so we took into consideration all the small differences that might make an impact.
Best Pacifiers for Breastfeeding Babies
- Comes in multiple stages for many different stages of a baby’s life.
- Developed by a pediatric dentist for proper oral development.
- The flared shield allows the baby’s jaw and chin to move freely.
- Made without latex, BPA or PVC.
- Comes in a pack of 4.
- Easy to clean.
- A little heavy so may fall out of baby’s mouth.
- Larger than other pacifiers, so some babies refuse it (it can make them gag).
- The flat shape may cause a baby to bite the nipple.
- Some have reported it affects breastfeeding.
- The attached stuffed animal helps keep the pacifier in your baby’s mouth and prevents misplacing the pacifier.
- Made with medical-grand silicone, and is free from latex, BPA, PVC, and phthalates.
- One-piece pacifier reduces the risk of contamination and germs.
- Many different options for animals (duck, lamb, hippo, bull and more).
- Easy for baby to find, keep in their mouth, and self-soothe.
- Only meant for children newborn through 6 months of age.
- Might be difficult to wash since the pacifier and stuffed animal are attached.
- Moms have complained about the pacifier getting fuzz on it.
- The weight of the animal may make the pacifier fall out of the baby’s mouth.
- Concerns about oral development with pressure in the roof of the mouth and teeth.
- Expensive to buy many of them.
- Used in many hospitals, medical-grade and safe.
- Options for different sizes as baby grows.
- You can put a finger in the hole to aid your baby’s suck.
- Soft silicone supports mouth development.
- Developed to be supportive of the baby’s mouth and breastfeeding.
- Difficult to attach a pacifier-holder to.
- The slightly heavy flange may make it fall out of the baby’s mouth easily.
- Some people complain of a strong plastic smell.
- The shape allows for the pacifier to be placed in baby’s mouth upside down or right side up.
- The pacifier shield is light with large holes for airflow.
- The pacifier is light which helps keep it in the baby’s mouth.
- The nipple is soft silicone, with a shape supportive of breastfeeding.
- Medical experts and moms helped to develop the design.
- Multiple options for sizing as baby grows.
- When washing, they may fill with water because they are made of 2 pieces.
- Hard to use with pacifier clips.
- Can get expensive if building up a large stash
Our Pick for the Best Pacifier for Breastfed Babies
- BPA -free and designed to support oral development.
- Fun colors to choose from.
- Affordable for building up a pacifier stash.
- Shield made of very lightweight plastic keeps pacifier from falling out of the baby’s mouth.
- Unique design of nipple works right side up or upside down.
- Easy to attach a pacifier clip or stuffed pacifier holder.
- Most accepted pacifier according to this study.
- In one 2013 study, it was the most accepted pacifier – 78% of mothers confirmed their baby accepted it within 3 attempts.
- This was the only pacifier my daughter would accept.
- Made of two separate pieces, that allow water in when washing.
- Some people have reported that it leaves indentions on their baby’s cheeks (depends on the baby).
- You’ll need to buy new pacifiers for each stage as your baby grows.
The best pacifier for breastfed babies is hands-down the Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Pacifier. It hit almost all the marks. The unique design is supportive of a baby’s oral development and it is made of safe materials.
The lightweight material of the shield allows the pacifier to stay in the baby’s mouth longer, affording parents much-needed sleep without having to pop it back in.
Personally, it was the only pacifier my babies would accept and one independent study even showed it as one of the highest accepted pacifiers in babies.
The only downside is that it can’t be submerged, but we cleaned just the nipple and didn’t have any problems. With my kids, I didn’t notice any cheek indentation that other mothers described so it varies by each baby.
Video Review of the Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies
Best Pacifier For Breastfed Baby Conclusion
Well there you have it! If you’re breastfeeding, there are a lot of things to consider before introducing a pacifier. And when you decide it’s the right time for you and your baby, it can be near impossible to figure out which pacifier to give them!
In my opinion, the best pacifier for breastfed babies is the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature. It was the only pacifier my kids would accept and it was always a staple around our home.
It was also a lot more affordable than some other pacifiers on the market! It was a relief to be able to build up a pacifier stash without breaking the bank. Overall that’s my top choice, but I’ve used all the other reviewed ones as well with positive outcomes.
If you have any questions about pacifier use in your breastfed baby, please feel free to contact me! I love helping mommies and babies with any of their breastfeeding needs.
Kealy Hawk, BSN, RN, CLC
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own baby feeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their feeding journey. She specializes in breastfeeding support and evidence-based formula recommendations. To talk with Kealy or take one of her breastfeeding or formula classes, visit https://littlebearcare.com.
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