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The Claim: Pacifiers Hurt Breastfeeding

Pacifiers and breastfed babies

Is nipple confusion real?

When my son was barely a week old, I remember struggling over whether it would derail our tenuous breastfeeding relationship to offer him a pacifier for what, at the time, felt like his 24-7 sucking proclivity.

I called friends, searched online, asked my trusted breastfeeding support center.

I got answers that ranged from”Not until breastfeeding is well-established” (what does that mean?) to “Whatever — my son had a pacifier in the hospital and it was just fine.”

This month in Cochrane Reviews, researchers put the whole “nipple confusion” question to the test, and here’s what they found:

The scientists reviewed 2 randomized and semi-randomized studies in healthy, full-term newborns who had initiated breastfeeding (presumably this means that moms had a chance in the hospital to get started nursing before a pacifier was introduced).

Pacifier use had no effect on breastfeeding rates for three and four month-old babies. Babies using pacifiers were also just as likely to be nursing exclusively as those who were not.

Babies can tell what’s what, seems to be the message. They know that chomping on a silicone nub satisfies their biological drive to suck. But when it comes to feeding, they also know how to shift gears. Add that to the evidence that using a pacifier for naps and nighttime decreases the risk of SIDS, and that’s a win-win.

Did your little one use a pacifier and did you notice that it did or didn’t affect breastfeeding?

Image:  flickr

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