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Pacifier Use While Breastfeeding :: Yes or No?

This blog is sponsored by Angel Kids Pediatrics with guest blogger Kimberly Bilsky, Lactation Consultant Manager.

It's the middle of the night. The baby is crying, husband is sleeping, you just want some sleep. You see the pacifier on the side table and know it will soothe your child and you can get back to sleep. But will it confuse baby when trying to latch for nursing? Will they give up breast feeding altogether if they get used to a pacifier? It's 3:00am...how early can you call your lactation consultant?

Having worked with breastfeeding mothers and their babies for over 14 years the answers are never easy. Use of pacifiers to soothe babies is always a recurring question I see with new moms. I have always been a firm believer in providing parents with as much information and education about pacifiers without bias, and then encouraging them to decide what is best for mom, the baby, and the situation. With that being said, here are the pros and cons of using a pacifier while nursing an infant:


1. Pacifiers may be used as a substitute to 'hold off' an infant when needing/wanting to eat until it's 'time'. Our society is very big on keeping schedules. If it hasn't been 2-3 hours, they can't be hungry. This 'putting baby off' can be detrimental to an infant's weight gain and to a mom's milk supply. In the first couple of weeks, infants build and regulate milk supply by going to the breast often. 

2. Pacifiers are often linked to latch problems. An infant uses their tongue and jaw and muscles differently for a pacifier in comparison to on the nipple at the breast. This can be confusing and lead to poor, painful latches in an infant that is learning how to latch. 

3. Many studies have linked the use of a pacifier early in the breastfeeding experience with the then subsequent early termination of breastfeeding, due to poor latch, and or low supply caused by the pacifier use. 


A March 18, 2018 edition of American Family Physician meta analysis study (study that reviews all the analysis published on a topic) of pacifier use concluded that there is moderate evidence that unrestricted pacifier use whether started at birth, or after established lactation, does not decrease the likelihood of continued exclusive or partial breastfeeding through the first four months. It is with this evidence that some are suggesting lactation consultants allow Moms motivated to breastfeed their infants make their own decisions regarding pacifier use. 

Whereas I recommend to our patients to attempt to avoid pacifier use in the first 3-4 weeks, or until breastfeeding is well established, at Angel Kids Pediatrics, we will support moms, answer any questions, and assist in any way towards maintaining happy baby and happy parents. If you feel the need to use a pacifier for various reasons, we'll support that decision and go from there in helping with successful breastfeeding outcomes. Contact us at 904.224.5437 x 1221 for any breastfeeding or pacifier questions or visit us online to schedule an appointment at one of our many locations throughout Jacksonville by clicking here!! 

About Angel Kids Pediatrics:
As pediatric providers in Jacksonville, FL, we take pride in being one of the fastest growing Pediatric practices in Duval County. We offer FREE Prenatal visits (meet & greet) and our very popular Newborn Seminars (register for the Newborn Seminars HERE) to help new mothers get the information they need to start caring for their newborns. Our Pediatric offices in Jacksonville are always accepting new patients from newborns to age 21.We know that babies don't come with instruction manuals so we do our best to help new parents with their new angels. We're proud to provide Lactation Consultations and New Baby Seminars. To sign up to learn more give us a call or online here!

Jaafar SH, HoJJ, Jahanfar S, Angolkar M. (2016). Effect of restricted pacifier use in term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews Issue 8. Art. No.:CD007202. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007202.pub4. 

Nguyen, D., Jonas, CE, and Will, J. (2018). Effect of pacifier use on duration of breastfeeding. American Family Physician 97(5): 311-312. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2018/0301/p311.html 

Wellington, L and Prasad, S. (2012). Should breastfeeding babies be given pacifiers? Journal Of Family Practice, 61(5). E-1- E-3. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3343725/.

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