Breastfeeding: When is it okay to introduce a pacifier to your nursing baby?

I’ve heard that a pacifier should only be introduced after breastfeeding is well established, but when is that, exactly?

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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

Some parents are concerned that newborns who use a pacifier too soon will have a problem with nipple confusion -- that they may not easily toggle back and forth between the boob and this plastic sucker. A study completed in 1999, however, disproved this theory. There’s more good pacifier news, too: researchers have found an association between pacifier use during sleep and a reduced risk of SIDS. Generally, nursing is well under way by the 2-3 week mark, so wait until then before introducing it.

However, don’t use it indiscriminately -- you may miss some of his cues (he may need to be fed, held, rocked, changed).

Each baby is different though, so if you want to wait a little longer to use a pacifier, that’s okay as well. Watch for any changes and if you find that the use of a pacifier reduces your baby's frequency or duration of feeds (newborns should be nursing at least 8 to 12 times a day) or makes it difficult for him to feed at your breast, you’ll need to discontinue it for a while. Speak with your doctor if you have any feeding questions as they relate to pacifier use.

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