Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies
Pacifier, binky, paci,bo-bo – whatever you call it, it’s an essential piece of baby gear for many new parents. But using pacifiers successfully can be a bit tricky when it comes to breastfed babies.
For newborns just learning to suckle, trying to differentiate between a pacifier and a breast can lead to confusion and frustration when nursing. Some babies develop a poor latch or an inefficient sucking technique as a result. This can lead to weight loss for the baby and a reduced milk supply in the mom. The same goes for newborns who are regularly offered a pacifier in place of nursing.
Careful timing may be key to avoiding these difficulties when it comes to breastfed babies. Nursing is a skill that, like any other, takes time to master (for both mom and baby). To reduce the possibility of complications, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents begin waiting to introduce pacifiers to a healthy, full-term infant only after breastfeeding is well established. This is typically around 3 to 4 weeks of age.
Parents of babies who are exclusively bottle-fed don’t need to worry about nipple confusion. Infants use the same sucking technique for both pacifiers and bottle nipples. Bottle-fed babies can use a pacifier right from the beginning.
Pacifier Pros and Cons
Pacifiers are life-savers for many parents. They offer a number of potential benefits.
- Babies have an instinctive need to suckle. A pacifier can help fulfill their urge for non-nutritive sucking. Moreover, research shows this non-nutritive sucking instinct also provides pain relief and soothing for babies who are injured, sick, or have colic.
- Putting a baby to bed with a pacifier may offer some protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the AAP.
- During air travel, sucking on a pacifier can help reduce painful pressure buildup in a baby’s middle ear.
- Pacifiers offer a way for another caregiver to soothe the baby. This provides the breastfeeding parent with a much-needed break.
There are a few downsides to pacifier use. Nipple confusion and a decreased milk supply are the most common complications for breastfed babies. Most potential issues, however, are fairly manageable by simply following the doctor-recommended guidelines. Here are a few points to consider:
- The AAP recommends restricting or eliminating pacifier use by 6 months of age due to a link with ear infections.
- Babies drop pacifiers, which means pacifiers can become hosts for germs if they’re not regularly sanitized.
- Some experts argue pacifiers are unnecessary since babies who don’t have access to them will naturally find other ways to self-soothe. Many, for example, learn to suck on their fists or fingers instead.
- Growing evidence suggests pacifier use may be associated with poor dental development.
- Weaning a baby from their pacifier can be challenging. Children can grow quite attached to them.
Best Types of Pacifiers for Breastfeeding Babies
There are lots of options when it comes to pacifier choices. To narrow the field a bit, begin by looking at the material used. Silicone pacifiers work well for nearly all babies, both bottle and breastfed. It’s long-lasting, difficult to chew through, and less risky than latex for babies who may have allergies. Silicone is also free of PVC, BPA, and phthalates. Natural rubber is another excellent option to consider for babies who have a silicone allergy.
The nipple shape is the next key feature you’ll want to focus on for a breastfed baby. Two of the best pacifier options for breastfed babies are cylindrical and orthodontic nipples.
- Cylindrical nipples, or rounded pacifiers, may offer a shape that feels more familiar to a breastfed baby. This pacifier design forces a baby’s tongue to cup around the nipple, in a similar way to what happens during breastfeeding.
- Orthodontic nipples are round on top and flat on the bottom. This alleviates pressure on a baby’s teeth and gums and thus helps prevent future dental issues. The flattened nipple also more closely mimics an actual breast, offering a more natural sucking action.
A List of Our Favorite Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies
Bear in mind, that every baby is different. Some babies may only take a pacifier for a short window of time, and some never want them at all (no matter how much research you do or how many varieties you try).
Let’s take a look at some of the best pacifiers for breastfed babies.
Babies love Natursutten pacifiers. One reason may be the soft rubber, which has a more natural feel than the artificial silicone used in mass-produced pacifiers. These pacifiers are made from liquid rubber milk from sustainably harvested rubber trees. Natural rubber is softer than silicone and has no BPA or chemical softening agents. This pacifier has a single-piece design, which there are means no joints or cracks where germs can hide. It’s also easy to wash by hand with just mild soap and warm water.
This orthodontic BPA-free pacifier is ideal for a baby's jaw and teeth development and individually adapts to your baby's mouth. The shape of the soft silicone nipple is wider and flatter than some others on this list, which more closely mimics the shape of the mom’s nipple during breastfeeding. The shield is curved for comfort and good for the skin, thanks to generous air holes and MAM's patented inside surface design. Another bonus? This pacifier glows in the dark, making it easy for baby and parent to find it at night.
Help soothe your breastfed sweetie in style with these adorable Itzy Ritzy Orthodontic Pacifiers! Their ultra-safe one-piece design is made of durable, latex-free silicone. Each pacifier features a precious accent on the handle to coordinate with your baby's outfits. Available in a two-pack, these pacifiers are ideal for babies 0 months and up, free of PVC and BPA, and top-rack dishwasher safe.
This sweet owl comes with a sewn-in medical-grade silicone Soothie, one of the most popular pacifier brands available. There are no pacifier cords or clips and no bean or pellet stuffing for baby’s safety. Additionally, mamas love that the weight of the stuffed animal helps to hold the pacifier in place on the baby's chest if it falls out of their mouth. It also makes the pacifier easier to find!
The Medela Newborn Pacifier was developed specifically for babies under two months of age. These lightweight, extra small newborn pacifiers are made of very soft and flexible silicone, enabling your little one to easily squeeze the teat at this early stage of tongue muscle development. Complete with a self-sterilizing case, these pacifiers are simple and easy to clean. Just add water and put them in the microwave for 3 minutes to sterilize!
The Hevea 100% natural rubber pacifier (with the cute car and ufo design) is made with an orthodontic/round teat. It is part of the Hevea Classic Collection and has no colorings added, besides the natural, warm amber color of the natural rubber. This plastic-free pacifier is soft and gentle on your baby's face, and its ergonomic butterfly shape gives space for both nose and chin.
Choosing the Best Pacifiers for Your Breastfed Baby
As any experienced parent can tell you, your baby is ultimately the one who will decide which pacifier they like. Buy a few different kinds. Sample all of them until you find one your baby prefers. You may even consider reaching out to a lactation consultant for pacifier recommendations specific to breastfed babies. Once you’ve narrowed it down, stock up! Pacifiers tend to go missing, and it's tough not having one around when you really need it.
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