Can I give my breastfeeding baby a pacifier?

Pacifiers are a tool, like any other tool in the parenting bag of tricks. Using the right tool at the appropriate time can be very handy. Using the wrong tool can be problematic.

Good uses for a pacifier:
🚗 When in the car and you can’t feed baby
🛀🏽 If you need a few minutes to use the bathroom or shower
😴 Baby just fed and is trying to transition to sleep. Remove once baby is asleep
👶🏼 Suck training for a premature baby or used specifically during suck training exercises under the guidance of a feeding therapist
🤮 Help with reflux (swallowing helps prevent pain and keeps food in the stomach. Babies with moderate to severe reflux often get over fed because they want to suck so often to sooth the reflux. If a baby has had a full feeding but is still wanting to suck, it can help reduce reflux and keep baby from being overfeed)

When looking for a pacifier, we want one that optimizes the same oral skills that are needed for the breast. Your nipple should go in baby’s mouth round and come out round, not pinched or flat. Look for a pacifier that is also round. This promotes the same tongue cupping baby does at the breast. An orthodontic pacifier, the one with a big bulb on top and a flat spot on the bottom, can promote a high roof of the mouth and incorrect tongue resting posture as well as have long term impacts on how teeth come in with prolonged use.

When possible, limit pacifier use so baby’s mouth is closed with the tongue resting on the roof of baby’s mouth to promote correct mouth development. There is no developmental age when baby needs to take a pacifier and it’s OK if your baby never does. They are a handy tool, but not a necessary one.