Breastfeeding: Can pacifier use reduce your milk supply?

Our first child is two months old and I nurse full-time. When we went to visit grandma, she was uncomfortable that my baby was "using me for a pacifier." She gave my baby a pacifier. Since then I have noticed longer feeding periods and more enjoyable car rides. However, I would like to know if pacifier use can reduce my milk supply.


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

During the first six weeks of nursing, as your milk supply is becoming well-established, it is important that your baby be given complete access to your breasts, nursing to satisfy both her nutritional and her sucking needs. When your breasts are not stimulated during this critical time, milk production may fall and you could find it difficult to bring your milk supply back up to the level your baby needs. Pacifier use in those early weeks definitely can affect the breastfeeding relationship.

During your baby's first two months you allowed your daughter to nurse as much as she needed. Your milk supply became finely tuned to her needs. Now she may be taking longer at each feed to get the amount of milk she needs. Even at this time, pacifier use can decrease your milk supply. This would be one of my top concerns about pacifier use in a baby of this age. Keep an eye on her output. She should be wetting five to six diapers each day and having regular, substantial bowel movements. Regular weight checks will also help you to be sure she is still getting all the milk she needs. Normal weight gain for babies under four months of age is four to eight ounces per week. If she falls short in either of these areas, I would recommend saving pacifier use for times of real necessity, such as her fussy times in the car, and go back to allowing her to control her feeds. (I do know how difficult it can be to concentrate on driving when you have a crying baby in the car.)

You mentioned that your mother decided that your baby was using you as a pacifier. It's important to decide how you feel about your baby satisfying her needs at your breast. If you are comfortable with this, it is absolutely fine for your baby. She will benefit from your closeness, and love as well as your milk. If you are not comfortable with your mother's decision, gradually wean your baby from the pacifier, and go back to offering your breast as needed. If you decide you prefer to continue allowing your daughter to use a pacifier, remember to give her lots of cuddling time. She needs to be held just as much as ever. Best wishes in making this decision!


Followup Comment:

Dear Debbi,

What a nice message!!! I love my little girl so much. I love holding her. I miss the times of holding her 24 hours a day. Now she likes some of her own time to look around and see the world. When I don't get to hold her (sleeping), I just want to wake her and cuddle her. She is very dear to me. I want to thank you for this feeling. I don't know if I would of loved motherhood as much as I do if I had not met you. You have given me a great perspective. I truly love the time I spend with her, especially at the breast because that is our time together!


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